Eleven of the Arabs wounded in Monday night's Hamas attack have been permitted to enter Israel for medical treatment, after having undergone security checks. Tons of Israeli fruits have been destroyed, because they are not being allowed into Gaza.
The IDF withstood pressure for most of Tuesday to allow wounded Gaza Arabs to be treated in Israeli hospitals. However, after performing security checks on the wounded people - checks that were hampered by the lack of intelligence inside Hamas-controlled Gaza - the IDF decided to allow 11 of them to be treated in Israeli hospitals. Another four were treated on the scene.
On Wednesday morning, new Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the army to enable urgent treatment in emergency humanitarian cases. However, left-wing civil rights groups are still not satisfied: The Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) organization has filed a suit with the Supreme Court, demanding that the Erez Crossing be opened automatically for whoever needs emergency medical treatment. PHR says that at the very least, these requests should be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The hospital in Gaza is well-equipped to handle the wounded, but the wounded say they fear returning into Hamas-controlled Gaza. Israeli officials are still concerned that opening the crossing may encourage elements to try to crash the gates and enter as well.
MK Nissan Slomiansky (National Religious Party) says that Israel has no obligation to allow terrorist elements into its territory. In light of the many terror attacks that have emanated from Gaza, Slomiansky says that those trying to enter
Defense Minister Barak and Interior Minister Roni Bar-On, against whom the suit was filed, responded as follows:
"The honored Court has ruled many times in the past that a sovereign state has the right to determine who will enter its gates... This also jibes with international law... A country need not explain to a foreigner why it does not permit him to enter... According to the Israeli-Palestinian agreement signed with the PLO, responsibility for health in the areas in question has been transferred to the Palestinian Authority. Under these circumstances, Israel bears no responsibility whatsoever for the health situation there - and all the more so in Gaza, which for over 21 months has not been under Israeli control..."
The wounded Arabs who were allowed in were hurt when a Hamas terrorist opened fire at a group of IDF soldiers and Arabs at the Erez Crossing on the northern Gaza border Monday night. One man was killed, and 15 others were wounded. No Israelis were hurt.
Israel has been under pressure from Arab-leaning civil rights groups such as B'Tzelem to open the crossing. Muhammad Sabah of B'Tzelem said from the site that among the Arabs are women and children, and that IDF soldiers even fired tear gas grenades in order to ensure that Arabs do not storm the gates.
Magen David Adom ambulances arrived at the scene after the attack, but in the end left with no passengers.
Of the 300 Arabs who crowded at Erez Crossing on Saturday, only some 150 remain. This is an encouraging development, army sources say, showing that Israel need not let in every potential terrorist who claims to be afraid of Hamas.
Israel has sent several buses to the crossing for the evacuation of foreign diplomats, including about 90 from Ukraine. Many Russian wives of Gazan Arabs have requested permission to leave as well.
Meanwhile, Israeli farmers are suffering from the extended closure of Hamas-controlled Gaza. Nearly 100 trucks packed with Israeli-grown fruits have been turned back from Erez, and 200 tons of bananas and 40 tons of peaches have had to be destroyed. Fruit-growers estimate the damages caused by the closure and the resulting lower prices in the Israeli markets at 20 million shekels over the past week.
The farmers have asked new Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Agriculture Minister Shalom Simchon, both of the Labor Party, to find a solution for the farmers to enable delivery of the produce to Gaza.
At the same time, Minister Simchon revealed that the Hamas takeover of Gaza is endangering his "Shemittah-bypass" plan. The plan involves the barter of flour to be grown by Israeli farmers during the upcoming Shemittah (Sabbatical) year, in exchange for flour grown in Gaza. Such a plan would enable the non-Shemittah observant farmers to evade Shemittah kashrut regulations. Produce grown in Israel during the Shemittah year, which begins in September, is not kosher, unless done in accordance with specific rabbinic procedures.