Thursday, June 03, 2010

3-Jun-10: So how urgent was the need for humanitarian aid for the Gazans?

How urgent was the humanitarian aid that the cynically misnamed Freedom Flotilla tried to force through Israel's naval blockade of Gaza? We can get some idea of the answer by considering a little-noticed report put out yesterday by the spokesperson's office at the IDF. That report is online here. under the plain-spoken headline "Hamas Refuses to Allow Flotilla Aid into Gaza Strip".

The essence of it is this: 25 Israeli trucks, laden with the so-called aid found onboard the flotilla vessels, are standing by idlely this morning (Thursday) while the Hamas regime that rules the Gazan Arabs plays its eternal game, honed by years of experience, of political-point-scoring while shafting its own population.

The "aid", if that's an accurate term, that arrived on those boats includes large quantities of expired medications, along with clothing, blankets, some medical equipment and toys. Hamas, according to the IDF, "is unwilling to accept the cargo and the trucks filled with humanitarian aid have not been allowed to enter the Gaza Strip. It appears that Hamas is in fact stopping the transfer of the humanitarian aid. Hamas did not explain his opposition to the transfer of the aid." Meanwhile there are reports of additional boatloads of allegedly urgent aid on the way, along with additional boatloads of the same kind of thugs and provocateurs we witnessed in the past few days. A great pity.

Israeli interests have always been to give the Palestinian Arabs, including the Gazans, something to value, something to protect, in their lives. This may be driven by self-interest but it's a legitimate standpoint nevertheless. These interests are served by ensuring a steady stream of goods and equipment into Gaza. Though a good proportion of the world's news media avoid reporting this, the reality is that deliveries from Israel are routine and frequent. So are the two-way transfers of people for for medical, religious, welfare, business or diplomatic reasons.

The September 2009 video above from the Sderot Media Center shows a fairly typical - but largely unreported - scenario: heavily-laden trucks making their way into Gaza from Israel. Keeping the world in the dark about this steady stream of food, fuel and supplies is critical to the success of the Hamas regime in presenting a bogus picture of an oppressed and starving populace yearning for its national rights.
The IDF, which has the data to prove this, says about a hundred trucks deliver aid into Gaza every day, under the watchful supervision of the IDF. During January, February and March 2010, this translated into 95,000 tons of supplies and 1068 tons of medicines and medical equipment on some 4,000 trucks.

Meanwhile the enforced Israeli embargo of Gaza's port is as close as a unilateral action ever gets to being a genuine act of life and death. Hamas, behind all the ridiculous camouflage, is a terrorist organization with a radical theological foundation, whose principal motivation is to bring about the destruction of Israel and us Israelis. If any embargo in history ever made plain sense (and there have been many), it's this one.  

But because Israeli policy towards those who wish war and loss on us has always been somewhat optimistic and explicitly humanitarian, Israel's actions have skewed towards trying to bring more good than bad into the lives of the ordinary people who live on the other side of the fence in this neighbourhood. So for example the Israeli lifeline into Gaza - from where lethal rockets by the thousands have been fired indiscriminately over the past decade -has included these little-noticed components:
  • Well over a million tons of humanitarian supplies were sent into Gaza from Israel during the past 18 months. That's nearly a ton for every man, woman and child.
  • Essential food items including baby formula, wheat, meat, dairy products and other perishables are shipped in daily and weekly.
  • There is no food shortage in Gaza. Food and supplies are shipped from Israel six days a week, year round. 
  • Fertilizers, other than those considered to be suited for making explosives, are shipped into Gaza regularly.
  • During 2009, while missiles were raining down on southern Israel from the jihadist thugs of Gaza, we sent them 738,000 tons of food and supplies.
  • During the three months of January to March of this year, 94,500 tons of supplies were shipped in via 3,676 truckloads. This included 48,000 tons of food products; 40,000 tons of wheat; 2,760 tons of rice; 1,987 tons of clothes and footwear; 553 tons of milk powder and baby food.
  • Every week through the year, a typical report of activities co-ordinated bt the IDF include hundreds of trucks and about 15,000 tons of supplies. During the week of May 18, 2010 there were more than 100 truckloads of animal food, 65 trucks of fruit and vegetables; 22 truckloads of sugar, some 27 truckloads of meat, poultry and fish; and 40 trucks of dairy products. 
  • At holiday times, the rate of transfers increases because Israel thinks this makes sense.
  • During the Muslim holy days of Ramadhan and Eid al-Adha last year, Israel shipped some 11,000 heads of cattle into the Strip.
  • During 2009, 10,544 Gazan patients along with their companions left the Gaza Strip for medical treatment in Israel. 
  • Again in 2009, 382 emergency evacuations from Gaza for medical purposes were facilitated by Israel.
  • Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem donates $3 million in aid annually to treat Palestinians in Israel. 
  • Keren Malki, which the authors of this blog founded and lead, has provided especially resilient wheelchairs for Gazan children with special needs. Other sources have provided heart-monitors, baby feeding tubes, dental equipment, medical books, ambulance emergency equipment, artificial limbs and infant sleeping bags.
  • And let's not forget that Palestinian Arabs, inspired by who knows what unfathomable depths of religiously or politically inspired jihadist hatred, have cynically exploited Israeli medical care privileges to carry out more than 20 terrorism attacks on Israelis and on Israeli medical facilities. 
  • Medical equipment and drugs amounting to some 4,883 tons were transferred from Israel to the Gazans in 2009.
  • In the first quarter of 2010, Israel shipped 152 trucks of medical supplies and equipment into Gaza. 
  • In a typical week (May 2010), 37 truckloads of hygiene products were shipped to Gaza through the land crossings. A CAT scan machine was shipped to Gaza in the same month.
  • Cement and iron imports into Gaza have been and continue to be restricted by Israel because of the propensity of the Hamas regime and its hordes of jihadist fanatics to turn them into rockets and bunkers. Still, imports of truckloads of cement, iron, and building supplies like wood and windows are regularly shipped into Gaza, supervised by the IDF and coordinated with NGOs. During the first ninety days of this year, 23 tons of iron and 25 tons of cement arrived via that channel. 
  • On May 13th, 2010, Israel admitted some 39 tons of building material to help rebuild a damaged Gazan hospital. [Let's not even mention what the jihadist fanatics of Hamas do with their hospitals.] 
  • On May 24th, 2010, Israel admitted 97 truckloads of aid and goods via the Kerem Shalom crossing [which has been repeatedly rocketed and attacked by Gazan jihad groups]. These included six trucks with 250 tons of cement, and one truck loaded with five tons of iron for projects executed and operated by UNRWA.
  • A UN report (May 2010) says 120 megawatts (over 70%) of the Strip's electricity supply comes from the Israeli electric grid.
  • 17 MWs of Gaza's electricity comes from Egypt. 30 MWs are produced by the Gaza city power station. 
  • The supply of electricity to Gaza has suffered considerably since January because of the Hamas tactic of declining to purchase fuel to allow their plant to be operated. According to the IDF, "Israel facilitates the transfer of fuel through the border, and maintains that the diversion of fuel from domestic power generators to other uses is wholly a Hamas decision.
  • 133 million liters of fuel entered Gaza from Israel during the past 18 months.
  • The advent of the Hamas regime has been an economic disaster for the Gazans. The United States, Israel, Canada, and the European Union have frozen funds to the Palestinian Hamas government since 2006 by reason of it being categorized as a terrorist organization. Despite this, Israel has done certain things to support trade and commerce, the banking system and the financial market in Gaza. The IDF says: "Gazans produce much of their own food products including olives, citrus, vegetables, Halal beef, and dairy products. Primary exports from Gaza are cut flowers and citrus, with trade partners being Israel, Egypt and the West Bank. During 2009, 7.5 million tons of flowers and 54 tons of strawberries were exported from Gaza with Israeli cooperation."
  • Life expectancy in the Gaza Strip (2010) is 73.86. This is better than Estonia, Malaysia, Jamaica and Bulgaria.
  • Infant mortality in Gaza is 17.71 per 1000. This is lower than China, Jordan, Lebanon and Thailand.
We plan to post some snapshots here of how Gaza-behind-humanitarian-disaster really looks.

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