Despite the announcement a week ago that the Egyptian border with Gaza would be kept permanently open, Egypt refused to allow an Algerian aid convoy into Gaza on Saturday.
According to the Palestinian Information Center, the Egyptians refused to allow the convoy to enter and were willing to allow entry only to three Algerian parliamentarians who were accompanying the convoy.
But you didn’t know that, did you? Of course not, because Israel was not involved. So none of the media has reported it.
The ‘Freedom Flotilla’ organised by the Free Gaza Movement was bringing vital aid, right?
Nine people were tragically killed trying to deliver it, right?
Israel has been embroiled in an international incident. Angry mobs have attacked Israeli targets all over the world and demonstrated in Turkey.
But when the aid does finally arrive in 20 trucks (Israel delivered over 30,000 truckloads in 2009, that’s about 100 a day by the way) they have been stopped at the Rafah checkpoint by Hamas as the IDF blog reports:
As of right now, the State of Israel has loaded 20 trucks with various types of aid found onboard the flotilla. Expired medication, clothing, blankets, some medical equipment and toys were among the aid found on the ships.
Unfortunately, the Hamas terror organization 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.
CNN has a little more on this:
Palestinian sources confirmed that trucks that arrived from Israel at the Rafah terminal at the Israel-Gaza border were barred from delivering the aid.
Ra’ed Fatooh, in charge of the crossings, and Jamal Khudari, head of a committee against the Gaza blockade, said Israel must release all flotilla detainees and that it will be accepted in the territory only by the Free Gaza Movement people who organized the flotilla.
So first of all the sum total of aid (I believe 8 trucks had already been delivered yesterday) was about one quarter of what is delivered daily through Israel and the organisers bleat:
Those held illegally by the Israeli government have committed no crime, they have simply attempted to avert a humanitarian disaster by bringing much-needed medical supplies into Gaza. (Betty Hunter, general secretary of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign)
Much-needed out of date medication which could do more harm than good. But the way the ships were carelessly and chaotically laden bears witness that the aid was just a front; a front for confrontation. As the Jerusalem Post reported yesterday:
In a statement to reporters at the port on Tuesday, Colonel Moshe Levi, commander of the IDF’s Gaza Strip Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA), said that none of the equipment found on board the three cargo ships was in shortage in Gaza.
“We have been working non-stop for the last twenty-four hours examining the cargo holds of the three large cargo ships and I can say with great assurance, that none of the equipment on board is needed in Gaza. The equipment that we found is all equipment that we have regularly allowed into the strip over the past year,” said Levi. “This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the whole premise of the voyage was for propaganda and provocation and not for humanitarian purposes.”…..
Gidi Gofer, head of the Defense Ministry’s international transport division, said that the equipment that arrived in the cargo ships did not have proper transport manifests or any of the paperwork required to legally ship cargo by sea. “The cargo did not meet international safety or operational standards,” said Gofer.
Many in the flotilla who thought that they were on a genuine humanitarian mission were duped by the IHH who were behind the attempted lynching of the Israeli commandos; the real purpose of the flotilla for them was to cause an incident, kill some Israelis or become martyrs (see my post here).
So Hamas think so little of these 20 trucks that they are holding their own people to ransom in order to win some pathetic battle to release people they know will be released anyway. These are the people the poor misguided humanitarian organisations are really supporting. Their people are so deprived of medicine and a bit of food that they can afford to use them as bargaining chips in some obscene political game.
If this doesn’t tell us the true nature of Hamas or the the true intent of the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ then what will.
The Israeli medical personnel of IsraAID have been operating in Port-au-Prince for the last 4 days, both within the government hospital in the city as well as outside the facility.
The 15 members of the team have been asked by Operation Blessing, its partner on the ground, to operate in a local football stadium where over 2,000 injured people have been gathering who are in need of emergency medical aid. Upon arrival, the team was greeted by thousands of wounded people, and more started to arrive as word spread that a medical team was in place and treating people.
“The situation is horrible, there is no doctor in sight, people are hungry and wounded. There are constant waves of injured people coming to the stadium” said Alan Schneider, a delegation member.
Due to the growing need for assistance, IsraAID/FIRST will be sending an additional team of 12 medical and logistical staff during the coming weekend into the field to increase the ability to respond to the emergency. Medical and other urgent supplies will be purchased in the Dominican Republic and some of the items arriving from the US will be used as well.
So the magnificent Israeli response to this tragedy continues and will increase.
Some heart-rending but also heart-warming stories have emerged over he past few days about the really terrible situation in Haiti. So many countries responding in very difficult circumstances.
Israel has taken so much bad press in recent months that it gives me, as a Jew, and a Zionist, an enormous sense of pride to see that whatever the issues are in Israel politically, whatever the attempts to demonize and delegitimize the State, whatever lies and half-truths, double-standards, blind hatred, genocidal rhetoric are used against it, there is still a deep, deep, thread of humanitarianism which lies at the core of the Jewish-ness both secular and religious.
Nowhere is this seen to better affect when disaster strikes anywhere in the world and Jewish and Israeli charities and organisations are mobilized not for propaganda but because it is an essential and abiding element of Jewish belief and consciousness to help our fellow man.
Here are some stories which are a moving tribute to the State of Israel and its people:
A story in the Jerusalem Post Jan 17th 2010 ‘Rescuers describe ‘Shabbat from hell‘. The IDF, that’s the Israeli Army has set up a field hospital in Port au Prince and within a few hours was treating dozens of patients.
Children with severe fractures set only with cardboard arrived at the hospital for treatment. Some young patients had been freed from rubble but had to have limbs amputated due to severe gangrene, he said. Within a few hours, operations were performed….
The Israeli facility, set up in very hot and humid weather, has enough equipment to function for about two weeks. The 121-member team has 40 doctors, including a psychiatrist, 20 nurses, 20 paramedics and medics, 20 lab and X-ray technicians and administrators.
The report tells us that many of the medical team are Orthodox Jews who travelled on the Jewish Sabbath, something which is normally completely against Jewish belief but when evem a single life can be saved then the Sabbath laws can be broken.
The official IDF bulletin tells us:
The field hospital is prepared to receive dozens of ambulances evacuating injured children from the different disaster struck areas. Between Friday night and Saturday, dozens of truckloads of medical and logistical equipment were unloaded and the field hospital set up.
The Israeli delegation landed in the capital of Port-Au-Prince yesterday evening and has located itself in a soccer field near the air port. Upon arrival, C4I teams deployed communications infrastructure in preparations for the hospital’s establishment.
Two teams, comprised of search and rescue personnel and canine operators from the IDF canine unit were sent out on rescue missions. The first team was sent to the Haiti UN headquarters in order to assist in rescuing survivors.
The ZAKA organisation (which was formed to deal with the aftermath of suicide bombings in Israel and other terrorist acts in Israel, but then extended its reach to make itself available throughout the world to help deal with the dead and injured of natural disasters via its Search and Rescue arm) is also an Orthodox Jewish organisation. On this occasion they were prepared to deal with the dead but ended up:
pull(ing) eight students alive from the collapsed university building, after a 38 (hour) operation
Perhaps only a Jew can fully appreciate the extreme emotion that the story of what followed evinces, but I’m sure no-one can fail to be moved by this:
Amid the stench and chaos, the ZAKA delegation took time out to recite Shabbat prayers – a surreal sight of haredi men wrapped in prayer shawls standing on the collapsed buildings. Many locals sat quietly in the rubble, staring at the men as they prayed facing Jerusalem.
At the end of the prayers, they crowded around the delegation and kissed the prayer shawls.
Overnight Saturday, in what staff described as one of the most fulfilling moments of their work, the Israeli doctors delivered a baby boy, whose mother, Gubilande Jean Michel, promptly declared would be named “Israel.”
How appropriate that the work, compassion and dedication of Israelis will be remembered and recalled throughout this boy’s lifetime in his very name.
IsraAID has headed for the hospital:
Just minutes after landing in the airport in Port-au-prince the IsraAID team was met by David Darg, Operation Blessing Director in the field and his staff and joined with them to unload a planeload of food and medical equipment.
The Israeli medical professionals of IsraAID – F.I.R.S.T. traveled to the main Port-au-prince Hospital to start treating patients, joining local physicians at the site of the collapsed central hospital where thousands of wounded have gathered desperate for help.
“The scenes in the hospital were horrible we saw people everywhere on the floors in the building and outside, people with amputations and bone-deep wounds, hundreds of them, the size of the catastrophe is unbelievable. All of the injured were treated until we came by only one local doctor and we were the first foreign backup team to operate in the hospital.” Said Nurse Sheva Cohen from Kibbutz Ein Yahav in the Negev
When the team arrived at the hospital they found most of the injured outside the building laying in beds in the building’s garden, probably out of fear of aftershocks and further collapse. The IsraAID team set up treatment rooms in four empty rooms, treating 60 patients with IV and administered medicine. While in the hospital, an infant with 60% burns died and bodies that had not yet been removed for burial were piled up in back.
In the meantime, the logistical personnel remain in the airport area to set up camp and assist local NGO partners with logistical support for relief items that were continuing to land.
Currently the teams are working around the clock to provide assistance to the injured. In light of the scale of the disaster, IsraAID is currently focused on expanding the scale of its operation, preparing an additional team that would be sent next week.
At the beginning of his cabinet meeting this week Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said:
I think that this is in the best tradition of the Jewish People; this is the true covenant of the State of Israel and the Jewish People. This follows operations we have carried out in Kenya and Turkey; despite being a small country, we have responded with a big heart. The fact is, I know, that this was an expression of our Jewish heritage and the Jewish ethic of helping one’s fellow. I hope that the team saves lives and that Haiti succeeds in recovering from this awful tragedy.
There is a long, long way to go for the Haitian people but they can count on the Jewish People and Israel to help them in their time of dire need.
The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has just issued this communique:
IDF Humanitarian Aid Delegation Scheduled to Depart to Haiti Crisis Zone
Later tonight or early tomorrow morning, an IDF delegation is scheduled to depart from the Ben Gurion International Airport on board two leased airplanes in order to provide medical care and services to victims of the earthquake in the Republic of Haiti.
Brig Gen. (Res.) Shalom Ben-Arye, the Commander of Home Front Command’s National Search and Rescue Unit will head the IDF delegation and Col. Dr. Itzik Kryse will serve as his deputy as well as the head of the medical team and the hospital commander.
The IDF delegation will construct a field hospital in the disaster area that will include 220 personnel, among them Home Front Command rescue teams and IDF Medical Corps teams.
The field hospital will include 40 doctors, 25 nurses, paramedics, a pharmacy, a children’s ward, a radiology department, an intensive care unit, an emergency room, two operating rooms, a surgical department, an internal department and a maternity ward.
The hospital can treat approximately 500 patients each day, and in addition will perform preliminary surgeries, and will house approximately ten tons of equipment.
The Home Front command forces will include 30 rescue workers, task force intelligence, logistics forces and a communications department, in addition to search and rescue and population aid experts from the Home Front Commands Search and Rescue Unit.
On Tuesday, a preliminary force of five people left for Haiti, for the purpose of establishing a status assessment of the crisis zone for the expanded delegation and will coordinate the majority of the activity until the arrival of the Israeli delegation including transportation, hospital location, food, etc.
In addition to the hospital and the medical team, the delegation will include a logistics branch, a security force and a search and identify force, among others.
The delegation is expected to stay in Haiti for two weeks. In those two weeks, forces will conduct a status assessment regarding the possible need for further stay.
The delegation will also include a media pool of reporters (Israeli television cameraman, a radio reporter, print reporter, and one international reporter).
Today, as instructed by OC Home Front Command Maj. Gen Yair Golan, all members of the delegation will be given vaccines and a detailed briefing regarding the mission and the actions needed to ensure their personal safety.
Over the years, the Home Front Command has operated in several major crisis zones in the world, acquiring high level skills, both technologically and in the ability to find creative solutions:
Below are a number of examples of the Home Front Command’s missions abroad:
Car bomb explosion at the China Hilton Hotel in October, 2004 – Immediately after receiving the initial details of the attack, the Search and Rescue Unit was called to the scene in order to rescue those trapped in the hotel ruins. The staff began intensive activity at the site of the incident in order to evacuate the injured and locate the persons trapped in the ruins.
Kenya 2003 – An aid delegation, headed by the outgoing OC – Home Front Command at the time, Brig. Gen. Eitan Dangot departed for Mombassa following a terror attack at the Paradise Hotel. Dozens were injured, among them 21 Israeli citizens. The mission intended to provide medical aid to those injured in the hotel and to return the Israeli citizens back home at the fastest possible speed. After 12 hours, 270 Israeli citizens were returned to Israel.
Aid to victims of the earthquake in Northwestern Turkey 1999 – Two Search and Rescue delegations were sent to Turkey following the disaster and a field hospital was constructed. The delegation rescued 12 survivors and 140 victims. The field hospital in Adapazari serviced 1200 injured patients, performed 40 surgeries and delivered 15 babies.
Greece 1999 – Assisting in the search and rescue mission following an earthquake in September 1999.
Car bomb explosion at the American Embassy in Kenya in August, 1998 – Following the explosion of a car bomb in close proximity of the American Embassy in Kenya, the Search and Rescue Unit worked to locate and evacuate 96 victims. The Israeli delegation received appreciation and recognition from the Kenyan and world public. The Israeli delegation was the first to arrive on the scene from abroad and began its mission immediately.
Bombing of the Jewish community building in Argentina, June 1994- In which the building collapsed as a result of a car bomb. Over nine days of intensive efforts, the Rescue unit, in cooperation with additional rescue forces, was able to rescue those trapped, among them 81 dead.
Earthquake in Armenia, December 1988- The Search and Rescue Unit, in cooperation with additional forces, operated for 12 days in an attempt to rescue those trapped under the ruins of buildings that collapsed.
Earthquake in Mexico, September 1985- The Search and Rescue Unit, in cooperation with additional forces, operated for 16 days in an attempt to rescue those trapped under the ruins of buildings that collapsed (55 people).
These IDF war criminals seem to have a terrible track record!
Today the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs made this announcement:
Israel wishes to express its solidarity with the Government and people of Haiti during this great disaster. We send our condolences to the families of the casualties, and wish the injured a speedy recovery.
Israel is doing all in its power to help the people of Haiti cope with the disaster in their country. A 220-person delegation, headed by Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials, will leave this evening (Thursday, 14 January 2009) for Port-Au-Prince on two Boeing 747 jets leased from El Al by the IDF. The relief package includes a Home Front Command field hospital and rescue unit, as well as teams from Magen David Adom and Israel Police.
Israel’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Amos Radian, is currently in Port-Au-Prince, where he is coordinating Israel’s contribution with local authorities and international aid agencies.
This is, perhaps, another example of Israel making a disproportionate response? After all, for a small county of some 7 million this is a massive response and fully in keeping with the country’s moral traditions which it has exercised many times in the past.
I have not yet discovered what the response of Israel’s near neighbours or even not so near neighbours has been? I’m happy to be enlightened.
Israel’s Government Press Office issued the following statement today:
Jan 12, 2010 – A major earthquake struck the capital of impoverished Haiti on Tuesday, toppling many buildings and burying thousands of people under the rubble. The magnitude 7.0 quake, whose epicenter was inland only 10 miles (16 km) from Port-au-Prince, sent panic-stricken people into the streets as clouds of dust and smoke from falling buildings rose into the sky.
Tens of thousands of people were left homeless and injured.
IsraAID members have been in direct contact with local partners on the ground who together will be treating the injured and offering expertise to the local government. A 12-man search-and-rescue team, which includes emergency medical staff are in the process of leaving to the field. IsraAID has turned to the Israeli public in request for donations to support the Israeli civilian aid.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and has a history of destructive natural disasters. Some 9,000 U.N. police and troops are stationed there to maintain order.
The Israeli Defense Force Issued the following statement:
An Israeli delegation including Ministry of Foreign Affairs, IDF Home Front Command and IDF Medical Corp Personnel has departed at 11:30 Israel time to the Republic of Haiti in order to examine the possibilities of offering aid following the recent earthquake.
The delegation includes engineering, medical, logistics and rescue experts from the IDF Home Front Command.
Binyamin Netanyahu issued the following statement:
PM Netanyahu Orders Aid Delegation to Haiti
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
Israeli Ambassador to the Dominican Republic Amos Radian has been instructed to proceed to Haiti in order to report on the situation there. The Israeli Embassy in the US has been instructed to be in contact with American aid officials in order to coordinate humanitarian assistance and rescue activities and adapt them to the needs of the affected area.
Well, Viva Palestina finally made it into Gaza and George Galloway and Hamas had their little love-in.
Not before a number of Egyptians showed him and the convoy what they thought of them.
Apparently, in El Arish, the convoy came under attack. It was stoned and anti-Hamas slogans daubed on vehicles.
Several people were injured.
I will not gloat over the suffering of the Viva Palestina people. They came in peace to bring aid to those in need in Gaza. Galloway and Ridley also came as a propaganda exercise which has hardly been reported in the mainstream media.
Galloway made a speech in which he praised the Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyah as the “the only and legitimate elected leader of the Palestinian people”.
Galloway’s true motive was that of all demagogues – self-publicity. There he was, in the centre of Gaza City, praising terrorists and would-be perpetrators of genocide against Israel and the Jews. He wore dark sun glasses as he spoke, a true metaphor for the limit of his vision and his blindness to the real truths about Hamas. As long as he has his moment in the limelight. He hasn’t had such a good time since he last praised Saddam Hussein, or was it the Iraqi people? It gets so confusing.
But why did brother Muslims in Egypt attack a convoy sending aid to relieve their fellow Arabs and co-religionists in Gaza?
The answer is simple. Many Egyptians hate Hamas and all they represent. They see Hamas flags flying on the convoy and their gut reaction is violence. But Gorgeous George doesn’t see it that way. He looks foward to the day when the Hamas flag flies over Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. Not a two-state Palestine with Israel, but a one-state Palestine. A day when the Israelis will simply disappear. Disappear like the Jews did in Nazi Europe, because that is their avowed intention, an intention that Galloway and his ilk do not wish to confront.
Why did the Egyptians stop them for so long at the border and only allow most of the trucks through after lengthy negotiation? Why did Galloway and Ridley have to make the unspeakable compromise of having some vehicles pass through Israeli checkpoints (which they did without incident – no stone-throwing from the Israelis, please note)? I don’t really know. Maybe the understanding with Israel about what gets into the Strip meant they had to be very wary and consult with their Israeli counterparts.
So the next time you hear anyone blaming the ‘siege’ on Israel, just point out that Gaza has a border with Egypt and that they are as keen as Israel to contain and curtail the activities of Hamas.
And finally, when did the Nazis allow food, medical equipment and ambulances into the Warsaw Ghetto? (Just in case someone tries to make that comparison too.)
An uncharacteristically even-handed report on the BBC website What gets into the Gaza Strip reveals what those who cared to investigate knew anyway. Basically everything gets in except fruit juice and sweets, building materials and car parts and agricultural supplies. Previously pasta, lentils and paper were not allowed in since the conflict, but now they are. What is let in and out has varied over time. The Karni, Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings, for example, were closed on various occasions last year because Hamas attacked them in order deliberately to disrupt the flow of supplies so that they could then accuse Israel of cutting off the Gazan lifeline. Yet another example of how Hamas have cynically and cruelly exploited their own people for propaganda purposes, propaganda which the world and its press have usually swallowed whole.
What is clear is that even during the conflict humanitarian aid was getting through and since the end of the conflict enough passes through the border to ensure the necessities for life.
So why not building materials? The answer is that if these materials were let in, Hamas would do as they always do, that is, commandeer some of these materials to manufacture rockets and rocket launch pads. This policy appears harsh because it delays rebuilding. But why should Israel be an accomplice to the re-arming of those that would destroy it. Hamas still fire their rockets. If the rockets stopped and credible guarantees were given, then building materials could be allowed in.
In contrast to Gaza, in Zimbabwe food has virtually run out and cholera has killed 4,000 people. I don’t hear the world claiming that Mugabe is committing genocide against his own people. Israel is often accused of that crime which, were Hamas to be allowed free rein to import and build weaponry, including arms from Iran, they would surely embark on against Israel.
And if you still think that Israel wants to kill all Palestinians, here’s an interesting statistic for you that you won’t read on the BBC. Arutz Sheva reports that:
despite the continuing rocket and mortar attacks on southern Israel, more than 14,000 tons of aid and more than two million liters of fuel entered Gaza last week. Israel also accepted 1,563 patients from Gaza for medical care
Did you read that last bit? 1563 Gazans taken for treatment to hospitals within Israel. Yes, it is a tragedy that these people cannot receive treatment within Gaza where the BBC also reports on a deteriorating medical situation which it blames on both Israel’s policy of restricting movement and also the chaos caused by Hamas. The BBC couldn’t resist taking a pot at Israel because over 30 out of 60 pregnant women lost their baby whilst being held up at Israeli checkpoints. But it doesn’t occur to them that they would almost certainly have been heading for Israeli hospitals, probably because of complications.
Delays at checkpoints, delays in reconstruction, deteriorating medical situation – all placed at the door of the Israeli government, not the Hamas government whose continued policy pf aggression against Israel and its own genocidal programme against the Jewish people is barely mentioned and when it is, is excused or dismissed as ‘posturing’.
If there was an Israeli charter which explicitly stated the intention to kill all Palestinians and all Muslims we’d soon see how swiftly that was dismissed as ‘posturing’.