Overview of the Humanitarian Situation in Gaza
(2009 - 2010)
Since Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip, it has politically institutionalized radical Islam in Gaza. Hamas, supported and funded by Iran, denies Israel’s right to exist and continues to build up its weapons stockpiles so as to continue attacking the Israeli civilian population. Since 2010, 140 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip. Hamas uses all means available to smuggle weaponry into Gaza. Whether they are using smuggling tunnels or fisherman boats, Hamas is constantly trying to smuggle in missiles, launchers, guns, explosives and materials for building weapons. IDF operations in the Gaza Strip, including the maritime closure and crossing restrictions, arise from the need to maintain the safety of the citizens of Israel from the terrorist threat in the Gaza Strip and to prevent weapons smuggling. The Ministry of Defense and the IDF allow the crossing of goods and equipment in a routine and frequent manner, and enable the transfer of people for medical, religious, welfare, business or diplomatic reasons. This summary provides facts and figures which illustrate Israel’s efforts to alleviate the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.
Food Products and Clothing:
- Most types of food are allowed into the Strip, and are transferred by the private sector or by international organizations.
- During 2009, 30,920 trucks containing 800,000 tons of supplies were transferred into Gaza. This included fruits and vegetables, meat products, poultry and fish, dairy products, sugar, rice and legumes, flour and yeast, oil, and more. Furthermore, 10,871 heads of cattle were transferred for the Muslim holidays of Ramadan and Eid al-Adha.
- In the first quarter of 2010 (January-March), 94,500 tons of supplies were transferred in 3,676 trucks to the Strip: 48,000 tons of food products; 40,000 tons of wheat; 2,760 tons of rice; 1,987 tons of clothes and footwear; 553 tons of milk powder and baby food.
Maintaining Medical Aid:
No Palestinian is denied medical care in Israel. However, if the Hamas regime does not grant permits for medical care, the Israeli government can do nothing to help the patient. Israel will facilitate all cases of medical treatments from Gaza, unless the patient is a known perpetrator of terror. Israel maintains a corridor for the transfer of medical patients out of Gaza, and about 200 medical staff members go through the crossings every month. Israel also helps coordinate the transfer of Jordanian doctors into Gaza.
- Palestinian families receive the same subsidized healthcare as Israelis, about 10% of the cost for the same treatment in the United States.
- In 2009, two elevators were transferred to hospitals in Gaza, as was a CT imaging system (to the Red Cross hospital), and equipment for a mammography machine (which checks for breast cancer).
- In 2009, Israel coordinated the transfer of medical supplies for the disabled including wheelchairs, crutches and first aid kits. Other equipment shipped to Gaza include heart-monitors, baby feeding tubes, dental equipment, medical books, ambulance emergency equipment, artificial limbs and infant sleeping bags.
- In 2009, 10,544 patients and their companions left the Gaza Strip for medical treatment in Israel.
- In 2009, there were 382 emergency evacuations from Gaza for medical purposes.
- In 2009, 572 trucks containing approximately 5,000 tons of medical supplies entered the Strip.
- The Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem donates $3 million in aid annually to treat Palestinians in Israel.
- Following fears of a swine flu outbreak, three Israeli hospitals were assigned to treat cases in the Gaza Strip and 44,500 immunizations were transferred to the Strip.
- In the first quarter of 2010, Israel shipped 152 trucks containing 1.068 tons of medical supplies and equipment into Gaza.
- During the first quarter of 2010 four trucks with special supplies for a project of the “Al Quds” hospital were transferred to the Gaza Strip, and an additional 13 trucks are scheduled to cross.
Equipment for Essential Civilian Infrastructure:
In 2009 Israel transferred 41 trucks of equipment for the maintenance of the electricity grid, and the state continues to provide approximately 60% of Gaza’s electricity.
In 2009 over 105 million liters of fuel were transferred to Gaza’s power plant and over 3.2 million liters of gas were transferred for UNWRA operations.
In 2009 127 trucks containing more than 3,000 tons of hypochlorite entered the Gaza Strip for water purification purposes. Moreover, 48 trucks of equipment for improving the sanitation infrastructure led to a substantial reduction in the Beit Lahya facility’s waste levels.
As part of the preparations made for winter, 3,607 tons of glass was transferred to the Gaza Strip. According to UN reports, windows in all education and health institutions were repaired.
In the first quarter of 2010 Israel transferred:
- 250 trucks with equipment for the UNWRA summer camp, including: arts and crafts equipment, swimming pools, inflatable toys, ice cream machines, musical instruments, clothing, sports equipment, etc.
- Seven trucks with equipment for upgrading the sewage pumping station, which was carried out by UNWRA.
- 74 empty containers for UNWRA for use in classrooms and bathrooms
Certain types of materials, such as cement and iron, are more restricted. These products are openly used by Hamas for developing its arsenal, building bunkers and launching sites, and making rockets and mortars.
Despite the risk, the transfer of these items is also permitted under supervision, once it has been cleared that these materials are for civilian purposes only. Already in the first quarter of 2010, 23 tons of iron and 25 tons of cement were transferred to the Gaza Strip.
Movement of Residents in and out of the Gaza Strip:
Despite the inherent dangers involved, Israel permits Gazans and visitors to travel between Gaza and Israel, from Gaza to Judea and Samaria, and abroad for medical treatment, religious pilgrimages, and business trips. Whenever possible Israel allows for diplomatic activities as well as trade and commerce with the Gaza Strip. In 2009, these included:
- Delegations from abroad: 21,200 activists from international organizations from over 400 diplomatic delegations were permitted entry into Gaza, and 2,200 Palestinians employed by international organizations were given exit permits from the Gaza Strip.
- Education, Vacations and Pilgrimages to Holy sites: 147 permits were given to Palestinian students for academic studies around the world. During the Christmas holiday approximately 400 permits were given to visit Bethlehem from Gaza as well 100 permits to travel abroad.
- Business: 257 permits were given to businessmen from Gaza to facilitate business operations.
- Sports: Special permission was given to Gazan footballers to train in Judea and Samaria and compete in international matches abroad.
Trade and Commerce:
Israel has taken measures to support trade and commerce, the banking system, and the existing financial market in the Gaza Strip:
- In 2009 1.1 billion NIS was transferred to the Gaza Strip for the ongoing activity of international organizations and to pay the salaries of Palestinian Authority workers.
- 40 million damaged bank notes were traded for new bills, and at the request of the Palestinian Monetary Fund, 282.5 million shekels were transferred from Gazan to Israeli Banks.
- In February 2010 an agreement was reached with the Palestinian Authority’s National Insurance Department to ensure that pensions reached those formerly employed in Israel. The funds were deposited in banks in Judea and Samaria, while the Palestinian Authority was given the responsibility of distributing the funds to the pensioners in Gaza.
Quality of life in Gaza:
Projected life expectancy in the Gaza Strip (2010) is 73.86, greater than Estonia, Malaysia, Jamaica and Bulgaria.
The infant mortality rate in Gaza is 17.71 per 1000, lower than that of China, Jordan, Lebanon and Thailand.
Fertility rates are about five children per family, equal to many African nations such as Rwanda and Senegal.
About 20% of the population in Gaza owns a personal computer - this is more than Portugal, Brazil, Saudi Arabia or Russia. They have access to ADSL and dial-up Internet service, provided by one of four providers. About 70% of Gazans own a TV and radio and have access to satellite TV or broadcast TV from the PA or Israel. Gaza has well-developed telephone landlines, and extensive mobile telephone services provided by PalTel (Jawwal) and the Israeli provider Cellcom. According to USAID report, 81% of households in Gaza have access to a cell phone. The PA-owned cell phone provider Jawwal has more than 1 million cellular subscribers.
Sources: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs; IDF Spokesperson