There may be a war going on between Israel and Gaza, but that doesn’t stop Israelis from carrying out a number of significant humanitarian efforts to help Gaza’s citizens.While the international press focuses almost exclusively on the bloody images of Israel’s operation against Gaza – the rockets, missiles, and gunfire, humanitarian efforts by Israelis are already underway to help Palestinian civilians.
These efforts, which rarely receive a mention in the media, include the regular overseeing and transfer of humanitarian aid to Gaza residents – including blood units, medical supplies and food staples – and the treatment of Gazans in Israeli hospitals.
On Sunday, ISRAEL21c spoke with the IDF military spokesman Peter Lerner about what is happening on the ground at the Kerem Shalom Crossing, the largest border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip. Sirens could be heard wailing in the background.
“Over the last week from Sunday until Friday we operated the Kerem Shalom Crossing – the main crossing to the Gaza Strip from Israel – for commodities, on a daily basis,” said Lerner. “We facilitated the movement of humanitarian goods, according to the request of international organizations such as UNRRA [United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation], the World Food Program, the World Health Organization and the European group Doctors Without Borders.”
The IDF, he added, also facilitated movements of donations from Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey. No donation was turned away: “We have a humanitarian effort which goes alongside the military effort in order to complement and to facilitate the humanitarian needs,” Lerner explained.
Among the supplies were 2,000 blood units from Jordan, medical gases, such as anesthesia for use in Gaza hospitals, and 10 ambulances – five from Turkey and five from the West Bank.
16 Palestinians accepted to Israeli hospitals
“We have heard reports over the last two days that Hamas are hijacking some of the goods, although we have not got any confirmation at this time,” Lerner told ISRAEL21c. He also said that the World Food Program informed the IDF to put a hold on shipment of further food supplies until further notice because the organization’s warehouses in Gaza are full. Transfer will resume after the Gaza facilities carried out distribution.
Since the Israeli forces retaliated to Hamas rockets by bombing Gaza last week, some 16 Palestinians – mainly those who are chronically ill – have been admitted to and transferred to Israeli hospitals. “Since the operation began last Sunday, we have facilitated the access of 16 Palestinians for treatment in Israeli hospitals,” reported Lerner. “Two of these were injured in Israel Air Force attacks,” he said.
One patient being treated is a child now at the Schneider Children’s Hospital in Petach Tikva; another child from Gaza is being treated at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer.