Israel says food supply to Gaza is sufficient, blockage is on the other side

International aid agencies on the Gazan side are not doing their jobs properly, while Hamas is spreading a “false campaign” accusing Israel of “starving” Gazans, say Israeli officials.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Fighting back against charges increasingly being heard in the international community that Israel is “starving” the Gazan population, a Defense Ministry department said Wednesday that there would be enough food if the UN would only distribute it properly.

“There is no food shortage in Gaza,” said Col. Moshe Tetro, head of COGAT’s Coordination and Liaison Administration to Gaza, speaking to reporters at Israel’s Kerem Shalom border crossing into the coastal enclave.

“The reserves in Gaza are sufficient for the near term,” he added.

Producing solid numbers, he said that while an average of 70 trucks entered the coastal enclave each day before the war from Kerem Shalom and the Rafiah crossings, last week the average was 110 trucks, over 50% higher.

In order to facilitate these deliveries of food, water, medicines and fuel for critical facilities such as hospitals and bakeries, the Israelis have greatly increased their inspection capacity. This step is vital to ensure that the trucks are truly carrying only essential items and not weaponry to Hamas.

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If there were supply issues, these stemmed from the Gazan side, Tetro stated.

“The trucks that go through security checks here are unloaded on the Gazan side of the crossing. The aid is then met by international organizations and delivered to the people of Gaza,” he said. “The problem lies with the international organizations processing and receiving the aid.”

Senior Israeli officials said that “There is a false campaign of our causing starvation that we completely reject. It is true that the situation is difficult, but there is no hunger and there is no starvation. Much of the failure of bringing in food is in the hands of the United Nations.”

According to a Ynet report Wednesday citing slightly different numbers, Israel, in fact, inspects about 300 aid trucks per day, but “due to logistical failures of the UN agencies, with an emphasis on [Palestinian aid agency] UNRWA, only about 120 trucks on average are collected from the crossings and distributed in the Gaza Strip.”

Still, it said that in the last week of December alone, 882,000 residents in southern Gaza received flour from the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and about 120,000 family-sized food packages were delivered. There is also food coming in from various NGOs and the private sector.

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The report added that there are many international aid organizations within Gaza but they are not necessarily coordinating their efforts properly, leading to distribution problems.

Israel is encouraging those who want to help Gazans with the essentials.

“If there are any organizations that would like to bring more food, we are happy to facilitate it — to the south and to the north,” said Tetro.

Israeli officials say that the UN and even friendly governments such as the United States are falling prey to Hamas propaganda, which benefits from the pressure that is then applied on Jerusalem. They have also pointed out that Hamas fighters confiscate aid trucks for themselves, shooting at their own citizens to keep them at bay, with videos posted online proving their contentions.

Many Israelis therefore strongly object to aid being supplied to the Gaza Strip, especially fuel, which Hamas takes to run its air-supply generators in terror tunnels and power its indiscriminate rocket launches that led the government to evacuate tens of thousands of Israelis from their homes and put them up in hotels where they have been for the last three months.