updated 1/18/2009 12:53:34 PM ET 2009-01-18T17:53:34

Israel opened a small field clinic on the Gaza border Sunday to treat sick and wounded Gazans, but a human rights group said the move on the day a fragile truce took hold after a bloody three-month offensive was "too little, too late".

Israel's Social Welfare Minister Isaac Hertzog, who attended the clinic opening in the Erez crossing pedestrian zone, said the clinic would treat as many people as possible.

"I wish this place will serve as a place of humanity, friendship and support for the needy," Hertzog said.

One Palestinian woman was already being treated in the clinic eight-bed clinic that includes a pharmacy, an X-ray machine and five consultation rooms. The patient blessed the clinic from her hospital bed, although her ailment was unclear.

Israel has been criticized
Israel had been criticized by human rights groups for not protecting Gaza's civilians or facilitating medical access to the wounded. More than 1,250 Palestinians were killed in the three-week offensive against Hamas militants, half of those civilians, and more than 5,000 were injured, according to Palestinian medics. Thirteen Israeli's also were killed.

Miri Weingarten of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel said the Israeli army has repeatedly refused her group's requests to evacuate wounded Gazans during the war, and called the border clinic "too little, too late."

"We think that it demonstrates a cynical use of medical care for propaganda, meaning that when Israel wants to correct its public image, it can and will evacuate the wounded," Weingarten said.

In a rare case, a Palestinian doctor known to Israeli TV audiences for his reports of human suffering during the war was able to secure the transfer of two of his daughters to Israeli hospitals after they were wounded by Israeli shells. Three of Dr. Ezzeldeen Al-Aish's daughters and a niece were killed in the attack Friday.

Hertzog said the transport of patients to the clinic would be coordinated with the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and other medical groups working in Gaza.

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