by RAY FLEMING

OBJECTIVE reporting is always at a premium. When TV or the press cannot be trusted, turn to long-established news agencies such as Reuters.
When their accuracy is questioned turn to independent international organisations to get at the truth. And when their objectivity is challenged call in the United Nations. After that, where else can you go? To the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) based in Geneva and the ultimate repository of independent, experienced and balanced judgement on humanitarian issues arising from conflict. Yesterday the ICRC published a report on Gaza, six months after the Israel invasion ended. It said the population is “mired in poverty” and “sliding ever deeper into despair”. Large areas hit by Israel attacks still “look like the epicentre of a massive earthquake” and thousands of people lack any adequate shelter. The report said reconstruction is impossible because Israel will not allow steel and cement through its checkpoints. The $4.5 billion pledged by international donors for rebuilding has not been used. Meanwhile, says the ICRC report, because of the Israeli check points children are undernourished, basic medicines are in short supply, hospitals are running down, water and sanitation services are on the brink of collapse - 60 million litres of partially or wholly untreated sewage is being pumped into the Mediterranean every day. Responding to the ICRC report the Israel government said the blame for this situation rests with Hamas because it cannot be trusted not to use cement and steel for military purposes. Have they no compassion in Jerusalem?

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