There is a lot of misguided criticism that is raining down on Israel like Kassam rockets, regarding Humanitarian Aid. Here are a few facts to dispel some of the propaganda being spewed.

Israel has allowed goods into Gaza regularly throughout the “siege and even sent food, medicine and heating oil into Gaza. I know of no time in history when a country has sent humanitarian aid to civilians in a neighboring country that is shooting rockets at its civilians. While they bomb Israeli civilians, Israel is sending aid to Gazans.

The day before operation “Cast Lead” got underway, Israel allowed dozens of trucks carrying aid to enter the Strip. Last Tuesday, another 100 trucks – double the normal number –entered Gaza after Defense Minister Barak approved the move.

In short, Israel is allowing aid into the Strip while Egypt has closed tight its border with Gaza.

More than 500 aid trucks have been shipped into Gaza since operations began. But even when aid crosses into Gaza Hamas has prevented officials from distributing it, leading to food shortages in some areas.

A World Bank statement last Wednesday said there are growing signs of a severe public health crisis in Gaza because of a shortage of drinking water and an escalating failure of the sewage system. The importance of this is that Israel has not targeted any sewage facility or water works. The shortage is due to the mis-handling of the Hamas leadership. Had they been more concerned with serving the people of Gaza and less with smuggling in rockets to attack its neighbor, there would be no crisis.

The Unit for Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories reports daily on the general humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

Humanitarian aid includes food, medicines and medical equipment, tools and materials for essential humanitarian infrastructures, and a certain amount of diesel fuel. Cement, sand, gravel and steel are not considered to be humanitarian aid.

Different crossings are designated for different types of humanitarian aid:

Karni Crossing: grains such as wheat, barley, soy beans, corn, sesame seeds, animal feed and aggregate

Kerem Shalom and/or Sufa Crossing: food, hygiene products, tools and raw materials for essential infrastructures, medicines and medical equipment; and a myriad of other items – ranging from school books to wheel chairs – needed by the civilian population.

Nahal Oz: diesel fuel for transportation and for the local Gaza power station, petrol, and gas for cooking and heating, according to an assessment of civilian needs mandated by the Israeli court. This is Israel sending oil to Gaza, for those who like irony.

Erez Crossing: two-way traffic of international organizations’ staff between Israel and Gaza ; Gaza residents seeking medical treatment in Israel or the Palestinian Authority,

Here are some details of humanitarian aid transferred to the Gaza Strip via Israeli crossings. Some of this aid comes from outside humanitarian sources and some comes from Israel herself:

January 1, 2009
60 trucks, with approximately 1360 tons of humanitarian aid, medical supplies and medication were conveyed through Kerem Shalom cargo terminal.
• Israeli humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip 1-Jan-2009

December 31, 2008
93 truckloads carrying some 2500 tons of humanitarian aid, medical supplies and medications were transferred through the Kerem Shalom crossing. The World Food Programme notified the Israeli authorities that their food warehouses in the Gaza Strip are full, with a two-week supply, and they do not require further shipments.
The Nahal Oz fuel crossing remains closed due to continuing fire in the area.
Twelve Palestinians, including two children, were transferred to Israeli hospitals.
• Israeli humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip 31-Dec-2008

December 30, 2008
93 truckloads carrying 2366 tons of humanitarian supplies as well as five ambulances donated by Turkey were transferred to the Gaza Strip. A Red Cross plane arrived with medical supplies for the hospital operating room.
The aid included food and medicine provided by the World Food Programme, UNRWA, UNICEF, the ICRC, the World Health Organization, Doctors without Borders, and Care International, as well as donations from Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and Turkey.
• Israel increases humanitarian effort to the Gaza Strip – 30-Dec-2008

December 29, 2008
63 trucks with 1545 tons of humanitarian goods (food, medicines and medical supplies) were delivered via the Kerem Shalom crossing. Most of the aid was provided by the International Red Cross, UNRWA, Doctors without Borders, and Care International. Five ambulances from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) in Ramallah passed through, at the request of the International Red Cross (ICRC). 1000 units of blood donated by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan were also delivered.
Although scheduled to open, the Nahal Oz fuel depot remained closed due to Hamas rocket attacks.

Erez crossing: Four people (patients and their escorts), and ten international staff, including a pregnant FAO employee and her Palestinian husband, left the Gaza Strip and crossed into Israel.

December 28, 2008
At the request of international organizations (the International Red Cross which refuses to aid or even recognize Israel’s Red Mogen David while recognizing the Arab Red Crescent, UNRWA, WFP) and of the Palestinian National Authority in Ramallah, 23 truckloads of humanitarian goods such as flour, medicines and medical supplies, were transferred via Kerem Shalom crossing.

63 trucks carrying food and medical supplies as well as 10 ambulances transferred to Gaza on Monday, 29 December
Photos: IDF Spokesperson

December 26, 2008
Kerem Shalom: 63 trucks delivered1496 tons of goods – flour, oil, sugar, rice, salt, milk powder, hatching eggs and medicines.

December 21-25, 2008
Erez crossing: 145 people (patients and their escorts) crossed into Israel for medical treatment by Israeli doctors and nurses. And this, even though Hamas was targeting Israeli hospitals.

Israeli hospitals have kept their doors open to Gazans during the conflict. In Ashkelon’s Barzilai Hospital, “dozens of Gaza Arabs are being treated… at the same time terrorists are bombarding the city.” (“Israeli Hospital Cares for Sick and Injured Gaza Arabs,” by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, Israel National News, December 29, 2008)

By contrast, in the Gaza hospitals, “armed Hamas militants in civilian clothes roamed the halls” where they shot and killed other Palestinians. (“No Early End Seen to ‘All-Out War’ on Hamas in Gaza,” by Ethan Bronner and Taghreed El-Khodary, New York Times, December 29, 2008)

Shockingly, Hamas is not even allowing wounded Palestinians access to medical treatment. “We are waiting for the wounded Palestinians to cross. They are not being allowed to cross,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told reporters. Asked who was to blame, he said: “Ask the party in control on the ground in Gaza.” (“Egypt: Hamas denying Gaza wounded treatment in Egypt,” by Alaa Shahine, Reuters, December 28, 2008)
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