Over and Over – We Send Aid…They Block It…We Get Blamed

The pattern remains – we send assistance and do all that we can to avoid a humanitarian crisis in Gaza while desperately trying to balance the security needs of our people. And, what does Hamas do? The answer, most sadly, is everything they can to increase the suffering of their own people so that they can parade shortages (even imaginary or artificially created ones) before the international community. And, what does the world do…the answer, all too often and all too sadly, is turn and condemn Israel.

To set the record straight…again…

According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that Hamas deliberately takes measures in order to worsen the humanitarian situation in Gaza. In recent weeks, measures have included forcing strikes in petrol stations and bakeries, refusing fuel deliveries, attacking their own fuel silos and encouraging civilians to act as human shields against impending Israeli air attacks.

As a result of these actions, Hamas has provided a convincing story to the world media of a ‘fuel crisis in Gaza’ and an Israeli blockade on fuel deliveries. Neither of these claims are true; they appear to be part of an ongoing propaganda strategy by Hamas. At the present time, the fuel depots in Gaza are at full capacity; yet it is entirely conceivable that the press will report continuing fuel shortages in Gaza, as well as Israel’s refusal to provide fuel deliveries, over the coming days.

505,440 tons of humanitarian aid have been provided to the Gazans since last June. Nevertheless, Hamas forced bakeries in Gaza to strike during the past two weeks, disrupting the supply of bread to the Gazans causing a shortage in food.

The bakery example illustrates well Hamas’ twin strategies: 1, forcing the residents to portray a humanitarian aid crisis and 2, blaming Israel for not providing. Yet the Israeli government does not have control of what goes on in Gaza and, following agreements by both sides after June 2007, supplies aid to Hamas, not directly to the Gazans. Once the humanitarian aid is delivered, Hamas takes full control of the supply and distribute the aid as they wish – or not. Where are the 505,554 tons of humanitarian aid supplied? Why don’t they supply their citizens with the 1,000,000 litres of fuel provided by the Israeli Government yesterday?

After a direct request by the UNWRA, Col. Nir Press, Head of the Coordination & Liaison Administration to the Gaza Strip, agreed to assist with an extraordinary fuel transfer directly to the organisation yesterday, Thursday, 24 April 2008 stating that: “After receiving an update and a request from UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees) regarding the depletion of fuel required by the organization, we yesterday coordinated with UNRWA, the Palestinian fuel association and the Palestinian fuel administrator, the transfer of fuel required by UNRWA.”

Yesterday’s transfer arrangement to UNWRA consisted of 100,000 liters of diesel fuel and an additional 20,000 liters of gasoline and was to be drawn from the fuel supply located in the Palestinian fuel depot at Nahal Oz.

In accordance with the transfer arrangement, the first fuel tanker-truck arrived from the Gaza Strip yesterday afternoon to withdraw fuel for UNRWA. However, tens of thousands of Palestinians blocked one of the main intersections leading to the fuel depot, preventing the entrance of the tanker to the depot and thus preventing the supply of fuel.

Israel has supplied UNRWA with the fuel it requires for current operations during the last few months, and since yesterday has been attempting to assist the organisation with the Palestinians, and enable it to withdraw its fuel requirements, in a manner similar to that used with regard to diesel fuel supplied to the Gaza City power station. Yesterday approximately one million liters were supplied to the power station, the entire quantity of which reached its destination.

It is our hope that tomorrow the Palestinians will allow the tanker-trucks to reach the fuel depot, and supply the UN organisations serving the civilian population in the Gaza Strip. Col. Press called on the Palestinians to draw fuel from the Palestinian depot at Nahal Oz, and to use it for the various humanitarian and civilian requirements for which it is meant.

The supply accumulated at the Palestinian fuel depot amounts to one million litres. The Palestinians have not withdrawn any fuel during the past month, and are not supplying the fuel necessary for humanitarian and civilian requirements. In this manner, the Palestinians, led by the Hamas organisation, are manufacturing shortages, hardship and crisis. It should be noted that Israel is not involved or responsible for occurrences in the Gaza Strip, for vehicular traffic on the highways, or for access to the organisation’s depot.

Unfortunately, this all amounts to a renewed attempt by Hamas to create a crisis situation for the Gaza Strip’s civilian population. The Nahal Oz fuel terminal and the Kerem Shalom crossing are regularly attacked, Israel’s citizens in the south are under attack, and the supply of fuel for humanitarian purposes has been obstructed, and each time the Hamas attempts to direct the resulting blame toward Israel.

The escalation in terror against Israel continues as two Israeli guards, Shimon Mizrahi (53) and Eli Wasserman (51) who were in charge of checking Palestinians arriving from the West Bank, were killed in a shooting attack in the Nitzanei Oz industrial zone in the Sharon region this morning, 25 April 2008. The attack was executed by a fugitive wanted by Israel and the Palestinian Authority who arrived at the Israeli Arab village of Qalansuwa disguised as a woman. Later on, the terrorist changed into worker’s garments and advanced towards the factory, where he executed the attack “dedicated to Gaza’s residents.” The al-Quds Brigades, the Islamic Jihad’s military wing, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Shimon Mizrahi was survived by his wife Sarah, his three children aged 18, 28, 30 and two grandchildren. Eli Wasserman was survived by his wife, Chaya, and his two children, 30-year-old Ahiad and 28-year-old Michal.

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