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Aid Figures Dispute Claim of Gaza Humanitarian Crisis

May 27, 2010
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Israel also allowed in more than 105 million liters of fuel for Gaza’s power plant in 2009, and Israel continues to provide approximately 60% of Gaza’s electricity. More than 3,000 tons of a chemical for water purification went into Gaza in 2009, and the IDF said 48 trucks of equipment for improving the sanitation infrastructure “led to a substantial reduction” in waste levels for a Gaza facility.

Israel has restricted the entrance of certain types of building materials, such as cement and iron, and that has led to outside criticism following the destruction of homes in the Strip during Operation Cast Lead in January 2009. However, the IDF defended the restrictions, saying the items are “openly used by Hamas for developing its arsenal, building bunkers and launching sites, and making rockets and mortars.”  

Furthermore, the IDF noted that “despite the risk, the transfer of these items is also permitted under supervision, once it has been cleared that these materials are for civilian purposes only.” In the first quarter of 2010, 23 tons of iron and 25 tons of cement were transferred to Gaza. The IDF also said that “as part of the preparations made for winter,” more than 3,600 tons of glass were let into the Strip and that according to United Nations’ (UN) reports, “windows in all education and health institutions were repaired.”

UN efforts in Gaza received some of the aid let in as well. The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) received 250 trucks with equipment for their Gaza summer camp that included arts and crafts equipment, swimming pools and ice cream machines.

During 2009, hundreds of Gazans, including pilgrims and athletes, were given permits for traveling outside the Gaza Strip, and more than 21,000 activists from international organizations were allowed into Gaza.

Israel has been accused in the past about restricting items that have little or no link to terrorism, but according to Israel’s Gaza overview, “IDF operations in the Gaza Strip, including the maritime closure and crossing restrictions, arise from the need to maintain the safety of the citizens of Israel from the terrorist threat in the Gaza Strip and to prevent weapons smuggling…The State of Israel seeks regional stability and to protect her citizens. It is not in the interest of Israel to harm the people of Gaza and the state does its utmost to assist aid efforts, so as not to harm the quality of life for the residents of Gaza.”

Ultimately, Israel laid the blame for the difficulties in Gaza at the feet of Hamas. Said the overview, “Hamas, in its continued efforts to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip, harms the people of Gaza and prevents them from further development. Despite these security threats, the IDF continues to allow the transfer of commercial goods, building materials and medical equipment into Gaza.”

Posted on May 27, 2010

Source: Joshua Spurlock, BFP Israel Mosaic Radio, May 26, 2010

Photo Credit: Isranet

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