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April 17, 2009
Gaza civilians experience difficulty in receiving aid

A van carrying aid in Gaza City.

More than 1,300 Palestinians were killed in Israel’s 22-day Gaza offensive, and around 80 percent of Palestinians are reliant on aid.

The Israeli government does allow aid shipments into Gaza, but fears that opening the borders would allow Hamas to bring weapons into the area. U.N. aid workers in the Gaza Strip have asked Israel to ease restrictions on aid.

Michael Robin Bailey of the humanitarian group Oxfam describes their aid operation and the dangers faced by aid workers:

A truckload of Pampers is driven into the Kerem Shalom crossing ahead of us. One consignment of 36 wooden pallets piled to a height of 160 cm. Not enough to meet the household needs in Gaza where 170 babies are born every day. “We have seen a lot of Pampers and toilet rolls recently,” confides the Israeli army major who is assigned to liaise with the humanitarian community. Also macaroni and spaghetti now that they have been approved at the political level of the Israeli administration.

I am here with 13 colleagues from the humanitarian community, three middle ranking Israeli soldiers and the manager of Kerem Shalom. 20 adults earnestly discussing baby nappies and the security significance of pasta. Meanwhile inside Gaza 8,000 families are waiting for the materials to rebuild the homes that were destroyed nearly three months ago.

[…]Kerem Shalom’s operations manager says his main aim is getting humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza. However, he always gives priority to security, “If there is any danger for people, I will close the crossing immediately.” He describes how his operation is hemmed in. On one side, by problems getting his Palestinian workers to work on time, “Hamas is controlling everything, they hold up the workers coming from Gaza.” On the other hand he is ordered to manage up to 150 trucks a day although he says he could handle 400 or 500. “It depends on the policy.” Since June 2007, the Israeli government policy is that nothing other than humanitarian aid goes into Gaza.

Blogger Mona El-Farra, a physician living in the Gaza Strip, argues that civilians are paying the price:

It is dispropotional open war , civilians pay the price. […]on my way walking to the Red Crescent Society , (i donot have fuel in my car ), it is only 25 mintues , while walking , i can cleary hear successive explosions, from diffrent parts of the city , and the drune on the sky , and also can clearly see the security forces soldiers, outside thier headquarters , as it is under threat of bombing by the israeli military forces ,

i had to walk very fast , expecting the worse , arriving my work to find out that we do not have enough fuel for the ambulance and the other work vehicles.

no fuel entered Gaza since 17 days , our storage has been exhausted , oh my god this situation will have its disasterous impact on different health facilities .

Medical workers as always work under great pressure , and while i am trying to arrange for medical shipment entry to Gaza , donated by MECA , i endure living in such dangerous situation , and lack of electricity , we have scarce power 6- 8 hours daily at the moment ,fresh and clean pumped water is big problem for most residents of Gaza

An Israeli blogger, “Alain,” replies to her post, placing the blame on Hamas:

Civilians pay the price, I agree (what about civilians in Sderot?), but maybe you should ask the Hamas to give answers. You can always blame Israel. As long as Hamas Fires missiles, Israel will respond and the international opinion will support it.

Maybe the people of gaza should ask the Hamas to behave like a government and not like a terrorist entity.

I know there are a lot of civilians like you that are longing for a real peace like a lot of israelis like me.

Israeli blogger Harry Rubenstein in Modi’in, Israel says that Israelis are concerned about the humanitarian situation:

Throughout the recent Gaza war and its ongoing aftermath, Israelis and Palestinians have been trying to paint themselves as “the real victims” and the other side as “the real perpetrators.” But if we’re all victims, then how can we possibly take responsibility for war spearheaded by our leaders? And if we’re all perpetrators, then why would we care?

The fact is, Operation Cast Lead has meant horrible levels of destruction for the infrastructure and people of the Gaza Strip, destruction which could have been avoided if Hamas hadn’t hidden behind the human shield of one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

Just because Israelis support our government’s recent war against a terrorist regime that’s been shooting rockets at us for years doesn’t mean that we’re numb to the damage done.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user gloucester2gaza under a Creative Commons license.

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1 comment


Nonie Darwish a Palestinian journalist who has been trying to speak the truth to the world about the Israeli Palestinian conflict for a decade:
“International donors pledged almost $4.5 billion in aid for Gaza . It has been very painful for me to witness over the past few
years the deteriorating humanitarian situation in that narrow strip where I lived as a child in the 1950s.
The media tend to attribute Gaza’s decline solely to Israeli military and economic actions against Hamas. But such a myopic analysis ignores the problem’s root cause: 60 years of Arab policy aimed at cementing the Palestinian people’s status as stateless refugees in order to use their suffering as a weapon against Israel”.

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