May 21 2004
Children and Employees at SOS Children's Villages Rafah Unscathed
21/05/2004 - Israeli troops are reported to be pulling out of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, following a three-day intensive offensive. Although children and employees at the SOS Children's Village in Rafah remained uninjured, all are suffering from the enormous stress caused by the explosions of the past days.
With the pullout of Israeli troops, the curfew has been lifted, but electricity, water and food are still unavailable. Medication is also running low, although some supplies have been available through the Red Crescent.
The representative of SOS Children's Villages in Rafah hopes that supplies will be allowed into the city of 150,000 inhabitants, now that Israeli troops are pulling out of two neighbourhoods - including the Tal El Sultan neighbourhood where the village is situated.
Over the past days, tanks and bulldozers surrounded the SOS Children's Village in Rafah, while explosions occurred in the immediate vicinity. Some minor damage has been reported to the infrastructure at the SOS Children's Village.
The organisation's representative in Rafah said: "It is impossible to say what will happen here in the near future but the atmosphere still smells of war."
According to a report by the BBC, Israeli sources have indicated that their hunt for Palestinian weapons-smuggling tunnels in Gaza, and particularly in Rafah, will continue despite the pullback.
Both of the SOS Children's Villages in the Palestinian Territories, of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, have been continuously affected by the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The SOS Children's Village in Rafah has been helping abandoned, orphaned and destitute children since its opening in 2001.