Whilst the world rushes to judgement on Israel’s interception of the Freedom Flotilla and the deaths of 9 Turkish nationals, the actual humanitarian aid languishes in Israel.
MissingPeace have just issued a report after they inspected the aid along with members of the media at the Tzifrin army base.
Their report is vital in understanding the true intentions of the Turkish organisers and also the disgusting way that the IHH hijacked the cause of the real humanitarians in the convoy.
Journalists including international news media were taken to Tzifrin on June 7th. Only the cargo of one of the ships was at the stage where it had been processed and unloaded and awaiting delivery. Other ships’ cargoes had already gone through this process and 45 trucks of aid had been loaded ready to be sent, but not delivered, of which more later.
Most of the unloading of other ships was completed.
The ship in question was the Defne Y.
So you are thinking, ‘ three ships? But there were six ‘ (Rachel Corrie arrived later). So here goes:
A breakdown of the cargo found on the ships shows that of the six ships of the flotilla only three had humanitarian aid aboard:
Gaza ship: building materials, cement, iron – The ship has not been fully unloaded.
Sofi ship: building materials, iron
Defne Y ship: clothing, humanitarian aid (roughly 40 trucks worth), and games, building materials, wheelchairs.
The “Marmara”: carried only passengers and their personal belongings. Many passengers carried large sums of money on their body. There was no Humanitarian aid on this ship.
The other two ships did not carry humanitarian aid as well.
There were 600 people on board the Mavi Marmara, mainly Turkish, but no aid. What then, was their purpose? This was the largest boat by far. Why fill it with hundreds of people and their belongings but no aid? Why was the aid, the real aid from the Free Gaza Movement, on the small ships only? No aid whatsoever on the largest, Turkish boat. It could have taken hundreds of tonnes. Nothing. Why? Because it was never an aid ship, it was a blockade-breaking ship. It was an IHH propaganda weapon. It was a political demonstration. Well that’s fine if that is your purpose.
But this ground, the intention of the ‘activists’ [read: terrorists] who had taken over the Mavi Marmara in Istanbul and the subsequent lethal confrontation, is now the subject of an enquiry and has already been covered ad nauseam.
Let’s look at the fate of the cargo.
The humanitarian aid on all the ships was not packaged and not placed on the ship in an organized way, as one would expect from an organized humanitarian aid cargo. Everything was in individual units thrown on to a pile on the ships. This was not only unsafe, but it also caused a lot of damage to the objects, since the weight crushed a lot of things and since a lot of the things were just thrown on board.
So even where there was aid, no great care was taken. No-one thought to make use of an experienced aid agency to advise on loading. Hundreds of people gave money and aid items which were carelessly loaded. Does this tell us anything about the real priority of those involved?
And now what rogue/terrorist/racist/apartheid Israel does:
To deal with the cargo on the ships, here are the stages that it must undergo by Israel:
- Israel scans all the cargo and sifts out the humanitarian aid. The aid is then placed on trucks.
- The aid goes through x-ray machines to see that everything is indeed safe.
- Since nothing was packaged and organized, Israel did this.
This entire procedure costs a lot of time and a lot of money.
They actually package it up!
When asked how many tons of aid was on all the ships, the spokesman said they don’t know yet, since the only way one can weigh something is, if it’s packaged, compressed and sealed. He showed a stack of wood boxes with labels and said that this was done by Israel …
But Hamas still try to smear Israel, accusing them of taking batteries out of the electric wheelchairs (part of their excuse, no doubt for not letting the aid through).
The spokesman said that first of all, Hamas can’t know what Israel is doing because they are not allowing the aid into the Strip. Secondly, one needs to take out the batteries from the wheel chairs because if they are stored for a long time in the heat with the batteries, the batteries get ruined. He then took the journalists to the inside storage space, which is kept cool. There all the batteries were neatly placed in boxes all lined up. He said that the minute they will get a green light from Gaza, Israel can transfer everything into the Strip. Then the batteries will be transferred together with the chairs.
The batteries for the electric wheel chairs are gel batteries. Hamas says that Israel does not allow the entry of batteries into the Gaza Strip. Asked what the problem is with batteries the spokesman said the problem is not with gel but with liquid batteries. This is because 1 liter of this battery liquid can produce 50 kilos of nitroglycerin which is an active ingredient in the manufacture of explosives, specifically dynamite.
One can’t avoid the conclusion that Hamas invented a serious need for wheelchairs specifically because they wanted the liquid batteries to make explosives and if Israel didn’t allow them in they can accuse them of callousness. But this time Hamas weren’t quite clever enough. They should have been more specific when they asked for wheelchairs.
For me the story of the wheelchairs shows exactly why there is a blockade and exactly why even items that look innocent, such as wheelchairs, have to be checked and why Israel insisted that the ships dock at Ashdod.
Some of the cargo was expired medicine and worn goods. Only 1 per cent of the goods by weight was medicine.
A Japanese reporter who visits Gaza regularly, said that what is needed in Gaza is hospital/medical equipment and medicine. He said that if the flotilla would have been really concerned about what is needed in Gaza, they would have made sure to send more medical things.
Indeed. But even these expired medicines were being stored by Israel in a cool indoor space.
And finally a complete fiasco as to what to do with the aid because Hamas refuses to accept it. Hamas says the aid is tainted by passage through Israel even though hundreds of tonnes come through via Israel every day. The other reason is that they are waiting for Turkey to decide what to do with it.
The Japanese reporter was trying to unravel the reasons for the delay in delivering this so-called vital aid.
He spoke with the PA civil-committee about this issue. They said that it is the responsibility of UNRWA. Then he called UNRWA and he was told that they are not in contact with Israel and that it is not in their power to decide, but that it is the responsibility of UNSCO.
UNRWA also said that they received a message from Hamas telling them that they should not allow any humanitarian aid from the flotilla to enter the Gaza Strip. UNSCO also said that they are not in charge of the flotilla aid. They said that UNRWA deals with it, when confronted with the UNRWA reference to them, the man on the phone laughed and said this is not the case.
Next was COGAT, they first refused to give specific names and said “you can imagine who these international authorities are”. When pressed they said they are in touch with UNRWA, the Red Cross and “other powerful players such as the USA”, The COGAT official did not want to get more specific because he did not want to blame any particular organization until things are sorted out. The International Red Cross in Gaza told that they have their own projects and bring in their own aid.
They said they have nothing to do with the flotilla. When asked if they have met with Hamas about the flotilla, IRC said that they have had discussions with Hamas who told them not to accept any of the aid…
… [The Japanese journalist] said that if there is a real need for humanitarian aid in Gaza then everyone would work quickly to allow the entry of the aid into the Strip. Furthermore he said that if in Africa they need food, no one waits to deliver it.
Yet these very same international relief agencies are the first to accuse Israel of causing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
This is beyond belief.
Update: *See also the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs report http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Government/Communiques/2010/Equipment_aid_Gaza_flotilla_7-Jun-2010.htm