"Brethren and sisters, I know that this welfare program is inspired of God. I have witnessed with my own eyes the ravages of hunger and destitution as, Under the direction of the president of the Church, I spent a year in war-torn Europe at the close of World War II, without my family, distributing food, clothing, and bedding to our needy members. I have looked into the sunken eyes of Saints, in almost the last stages of starvation. I have seen faithful mothers carrying their children, three and four years of age, who were unable to walk because of malnutrition. I have seen a hungry woman turn down food for a spool of thread. I have seen grown men weep as they ran their hands through the wheat and beans sent to them from Zion—America."
"Too often we bask in our comfortable complacency and rationalize that the ravages of war, economic disaster, famine, and earthquake ... cannot happen here.
Those who believe this are either not acquainted with the revelations of the Lord, or they do not believe them. Those who smugly think these calamities will not happen, that they will somehow be set aside because of the righteousness of the Saints, are deceived and will rue the day they harbored such a delusion."
"And in the central Gaza refugee camp of Nusseirat, Munir Najar said he only had another day's worth of flour to feed his family of seven, but ventured out to find streets deserted and shops closed. "There's not a loaf of bread to be found," said Najar, 43."
Lubna Karam, of Gaza City, said airstrikes had shattered her home's living room windows days before, letting cold air pour in. She said she feels under threat at all times, and her family has taken to sleeping in the hallway for safety.
"We keep hearing the sounds of airplanes and we don't know if we'll live until tomorrow or not," said Karam, 28.
Mansour, 21, of the Rafah refugee camp on the Gaza-Egypt border, described watching his neighbor pile a mattress and blankets on a donkey cart to
flee, but hadn't decided if he'd do the same. "Where can we go? It's all the same," Mansour said.
The latest fighting came at the end of an ever-tightening blockade of the seaside territory, imposed after the violent Hamas takeover of Gaza in June 2007. The borders were virtually sealed in the last two months, leading to shortages of cooking gas and basic foodstuffs.
But the Israeli human rights group Gisha said Israeli airstrikes have left Gaza's water and sewage system on the verge of collapse. About one-third of the 1.4 million residents are cut off from the water supply and 75 percent of Gaza is currently without electricity, including the territory's largest hospital, Shifa, the report said. Shifa has backup generators.
The Palestinian telephone company Paltel warned that Gaza's communications network has been extensively damaged by the Israeli strikes and is on the verge of collapse. The company added that three of its technicians had been killed and many injured in the fighting while trying to repair the network.
"When there was a siege, we kept talking about a catastrophe," said Hatem Shurrab, 24, of Gaza City. "But then the airstrikes started, and now we don't even know what word to use. There's no word in the dictionary that can describe the situation we are in."