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No Burmese nationals are known to have been injured since hostilities erupted between Israel and Palestine last month, according to Myint Soe, the minister counsellor for the embassy in Tel Aviv.
“So far, everyone is safe,” he told DVB on Thursday.
He said around 25 Burmese have reported to the embassy, among them Christian nuns who work at churches and hospitals, nurses, waiters and cooks.
“We had a group of Burmese students attending an agriculture training course, but most went home when the course ended at the end of June and early July,” said Myint Soe. “Only 24 trainees are still in Israel; 18 are due to leave on 18 August and the remaining six on 20 August.”
He said the embassy had heard that a Thai worker was killed by an artillery shell, and that both the Thai and Burmese embassies in Tel Aviv had issued warnings to their citizens to evacuate to bomb shelters when they hear sirens.
“There are only four personnel at the embassy including the ambassador,” the minister counsellor said. “There is a bomb shelter in our office building and we hide there whenever we hear a siren.”
Last week in Rangoon, the Israeli ambassador to Burma, Hagay Moshe Behar, called a press conference at which he invited eight reporters from various Burmese newspapers. He appealed to the journalists not to report the conflict in terms of casualties, and laid the blame for Israel’s land, sea and air assault on Gaza – Operation Protective Edge – on Hamas, the elected government of the tiny strip of land bordering Egypt.
“Israel didn’t seek this escalation, Hamas forced it on us,” Ambassador Behar told reporters, “and Israel cannot accept a situation in which Israeli citizens are under a threat of rockets and underground tunnels aimed at crossing the border and reaching an innocent civilian population.”
The Israeli ambassador also sent a stern letter to the Myanmar Times, criticising it for running an Agence France-Presse (AFP) article on page 35 of its July 21-27 English-language edition, which he deemed “unbalanced”.
According to Myint Kaw of the Myanmar Journalist Network, the Israeli ambassador’s criticism of Burmese media coverage was “inappropriate” as there were no Burmese reporters in the conflict zone, and newspapers were only covering the conflict through subscriptions to international news outlets such as AFP.
With more than 1,450 civilian Palestinian deaths – among them hundreds of women and children – Israel is finding it increasingly difficult to convince the world of their victimhood.
Even the USA, Israel’s closest ally and backer, has expressed disappointment over what is widely seen as continuous assaults on civilian and humanitarian targets, including schools, hospitals and UN shelters.
Following a missile strike on a UN school on Wednesday that killed 15, Washington issued its strongest and most explicit condemnation of the Netanyahu government since the Gaza conflict began. President Barack Obama’s press secretary on Thursday called the attack “totally unacceptable” and “totally indefensible”.
The EU released a similar statement, while UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the attack was “outrageous and unjustifiable” and demanded “accountability and justice”. The UN said its officials had repeatedly given details of the school and its refugee population to Israel.
The governments of Israel and Gaza announced an unconditional 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire on Friday morning.