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Weekly Summary: Aid to Gaza and Exports

Gaza residents received more than 12,000 tons of humanitarian aid last week, while business owners sold more flowers to Europe.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 3/24/2010, 1:23 PM / Last Update: 3/24/2010, 2:00 PM

courtesy of UNRWA

Palestinian Authority residents in Gaza received more than 12,000 tons of humanitarian aid last week through Israeli passage points, while business owners in the region exported more flowers to Europe. The Gaza region is known for its fragrant carnations, which sell for a high price in the European Union. PA Arab business owners shipped out eight truckloads to markets on the European continent last week through the Gaza crossings.

Meanwhile, 519 trucks made their way into the region carrying wheat and flour, meat, chicken, fish and legumes, in addition to agricultural produce, hygiene products and medical supplies. Animal feed was transferred into Gaza via the conveyor terminal at the Karni Crossing. In addition, 1,079, 310 liters of diesel fuel and 837 tons of cooking gas were pumped into the region through the fuel terminal at the Nahal Oz Crossing.

The terminal at the Erez Crossing was also busy last week; 483 medical patients and their escorts crossed into Israel from Gaza in order to travel to various destinations, including facilities in Judea and Samaria, for medical treatment.

Another 67 PA Arabs entered Israel for other reasons, according to the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (CoGAT). Staff members of international aid organizations traveled through the crossing in both directions; 188 staffers entered Gaza through the terminal last week, and 240 others left the region and crossed into Israel through the Erez terminal.

Despite the constant activity that takes place each week at the various crossing, Palestinian Authority government officials continue to attempt to convince the world that Israel has hermetically sealed off Gaza and is economically choking its residents. PA negotiator Saeb Erekat again reiterated this week a call by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) for Israel to completely lift its blockade on the Gaza crossings, according to the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency.

“Laying siege against the people of Gaza, creating a humanitarian disaster condemned the world over, and then making a few exceptions to what can and cannot pass through Gaza's borders is not a 'goodwill gesture', but the continuation of Israel's occupation by siege,” Erekat claimed.

However, while Erekat complains about the restricted access of PA Arabs to Gaza, kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit continues to languish as a hostage in captivity with the Hamas terrorists who rule the region. Shalit was kidnapped during a cross-border attack on an IDF base near the Kerem Shalom Crossing by a team of terrorists from three Hamas-linked terrorist groups on June 25, 2006.

Despite repeated requests by various political and religious leaders around the globe, Hamas has refused to allow any contact with the young hostage in order to determine his status – thus his condition and whereabouts remain unknown. He has also been denied the basic legal rights of visitation and medical care by representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross that he is due in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.