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IDF Allows Humanitarian Supplies into Gaza

Defense Minister Ehud Barak orders the IDF to open the Kerem Shalom Crossing for delivery of medical supplies and basic food commodities to Gaza.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 12/28/2008, 10:17 AM / Last Update: 12/28/2008, 2:47 PM

Israel News Photo: Flash 90

Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the IDF to open the Kerem Shalom Crossing Sunday morning in order to enable international humanitarian agencies to deliver supplies into Gaza.

Thirty trucks bearing medical supplies, basic food commodities and other humanitarian goods made their way through the crossing beginning at 11:00 a.m. and continued for several hours.

"As the prime minister said yesterday, we are not at war with the Palestinian people, but with the Hamas terrorists, and therefore we are bringing in the goods for the Palestinian people," noted IDF Major Peter Lerner, Defense Ministry Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories.

Three humanitarian aid agencies are sending goods into the Gaza war zone: UNWRA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency), WFA (World Food Agency) and the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross).

All three agencies were notified Saturday evening that they would be allowed to send as many truckloads of supplies into the region as they could muster, Lerner told Israel National News

"We didn't place any limit on the number of trucks," he said. "There are only thirty truckloads because that was what they were able to get ready for today. That's what they have in their warehouses at the moment."

The Erez Crossing, which is almost always open for the passage of medical patients into Israel, has been closed to all traffic in the wake of specific terror alerts.

"The situation is delicate around the crossings," explained Lerner, who added that last week the Erez Crossing was specifically targeted in a rocket and mortar attack by Gaza terrorists. "The crossing came under fire while it was open on Friday," he said.

The Kerem Shalom Crossing will remain open for as long as it takes to deliver the supplies to Gaza, Lerner said. It was not clear whether the delivery would be able to be completed if terrorists direct an attack at the crossing while trucks are moving through the terminal.