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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Truth About The BOGUS Gaza "Medical Crisis"

If you are watching the news reports you keep hearing about this horrible medical crisis going on in the Gaza Strip. Of course Israel is being portrayed as the villain who is not allowing any medical supplies reach GAZA hospitals. The Real truth is Israel has allowed THOUSANDS OF TONS tons of medical supplies reach Gaza, and has treated injured in the GAZA war. The REAL truth is that HAMAS is preventing medical supplies reach the sick so they can use it as a propaganda tool against Israel:

Given that the ongoing blockade on the Gaza Strip earlier prompted unsubstantiated media reports about a humanitarian crisis, it is no surprise that Israel's military operation has fueled claims about severe shortages of medical supplies and other harsh conditions.

Ynet reports today that Israel's District Coordination Office rejects allegations that Gaza is facing a collapse of the medical system:
    DCO Head Moshe Colonel Levi told Ynet that since the start of the IDF's Operation Cast Lead in the Strip, unprecedented amounts of medical equipment have been allowed into Gaza, including medicine and blood units.
    In addition, ambulances sent from the West Bank and donated from other countries were allowed into the Strip.
    Colonel Levi also accused Palestinian Health Ministry officials of preventing the injured from leaving Gaza to receive medical treatment in Israel and piling up bureaucratic hurdles.

    So far, a 16-year-old boy who was injured in the operation was permitted to leave Gaza for Israel and on Wednesday a seven-year-old boy who sustained serious wounds will follow.
    A number of cancer patients were also transferred to Israel for treatment, but Palestinian medical officials demand a long list of documents to approve the release of patients, and therefore prevent any serious treatment of the matter.
    "Gaza hospitals have not collapsed, and international organizations have not reported a collapse and even point out that the medical equipment sent there is improving the hospitals' efficient activity. Regarding food as well, we have not received official complaints, there are large amounts of food in the Gaza Strip and there is no crisis in this regard," Levi said.
    Defense establishment sources said Gazan officials are trying to take advantage of the situation in order to create a false picture of a humanitarian crisis. . . .
Selective Reporting
Ha'aretz's Amira Hass contributed to confusion and misinformation on the medical issue, yesterday outlining what medical supplies Gaza is reportedly lacking and ignoring all incoming medical aid:
    In recent days [the Gaza health system] has also been forced to deal with an unprecedented volume of wounded, many of them in serious condition, and a growing lack of medical equipment and medicine, insufficient doctors and inability to carry out certain medical procedures.
    A severe shortage of critical medical equipment has also emerged. Information received from Physicians for Human Rights indicates operations are being performed without anesthesia, and surgical gloves, gauze, sterile equipment and oxygen have run out. Needles, stretchers and hospital beds are already in short supply . . . .
    Futher, nearly half the ambulances in Gaza are inactive whether caught in the aerial bombardment or due to mechanical problems that cannot be repaired given the lack of spare parts.
    Even before the aerial offensive, some 105 medications for chronic and acute conditions had already run out across Gaza due to the Israeli closure and the dispute between the Health Ministry in Ramallah and its counterpart in the Strip.
Hass ignores entirely that since Israel's operation began on Saturday, Dec. 27, a total of 179 shipments of humanitarian aid, including medication, medical supplies, blood units and ambulances, have been delivered to the Gaza Strip through Israel. On Dec. 28, 23 trucks containing medications and medical supplies entered the Gaza Strip. The next day's shipments included 63 trucks, five ambulances transferred from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PCRS) in Ramallah at the request of the ICRC, and 1,000 units of blood donated by Jordan. Yesterday, an additional five ambulances, donated by Turkey, arrived in the strip, as did 93 trucks loaded with medicines and medical supplies.
In addition, the Red Cross yesterday evening flew 11 tons of medical supplies to Israel from Geneva to help Gaza's hospitals. The Associated Press reported yesterday (Dec. 30):
    [Red Cross spokesman Florian] Westphal said six trucks of medical supplies and spare parts for ambulances and generators will arrive in Gaza from Israel on Tuesday.
    A Red Cross delegation that visited Gaza's largest hospital, Shifa, found conditions there had stabilized, he said.
    "The situation is difficult but increasingly under control," Westphal told The Associated Press. ("Red Cross sending 10 tons of medical aid to Gaza")
In addition, the AP story notes that the World Health Organization is preparing to send 50 surgical kits from Norway to Israel, enough to treat 5,000 people. The WHO is also shipping nine basic health kits to Gaza, three months worth of treatment of common illnesses for 90,000 people, the AP said.
Hass further misleads readers with a false account about evacuation of wounded to Egypt. She writes:
    Meanwhile, Egypt announced it would accept Gazans wounded by air strikes, but as of last night had yet to receive any. This failure is due to three reasons: would-be patients fear of coming under bombardment en route, the serious condition of some of the wounded and the lack of coordination between Egyptian and Palestinian authorities.
In actuality, as AFP reported at 9 PM GMT on Dec. 29, wounded did indeed reach Egypt by Monday night:
    Wounded Palestinians began crossing through the Rafah border post with Egypt on Monday as medical aid for the devastated Gaza Strip went in the other direction, an AFP correspondent reported.
    By evening, 22 patients, some in critical condition, had crossed at the only Gaza exit point which does not lead to Israel, a security official at the crossing told AFP.

Egyptian Red Crescent medics wheel an injured Palestinian into an ambulance at the Rafah border on Dec. 29 (AFP photo by Khaled Desouki)
As for the reason for the delay in wounded arriving in Egypt, Hass misses a key point. As reported in several media outlets, including the Australian, Egypt laid blame squarely on Hamas for delaying the transfer of medical patients:
 Egypt last night accused Hamas of refusing to allow hundreds of Palestinians wounded by Israeli airstrikes to leave the Gaza Strip for treatment, with dozens of empty ambulances waiting on the border. . . .
    "No one has come in -- we don't know why they're closed on the other side," a senior border security official said. Several plane- and truck-loads of aid were also waiting to be allowed into the Gaza Strip, a security official said.
    "The wounded are barred from crossing" into Egypt, Foreign Minister Ahmed Abou Gheit said in Cairo, blaming "those who control Gaza."
Another AFP article from yesterday contains interesting information not widely reported elsewhere:
    Several Gazans wounded in Israel's devastating four-day-old onslaught on the Palestinian territory have been transferred to Iran for treatment, Health Minister Kamran Bagheri Lankarani said on Tuesday.
    "A small number of the injured have been transferred to Iran for treatment," Lankarani told the state broadcaster. ("Several wounded Gazans in Iran for treatment: minister," Dec. 30, 2008)

Jack at Random Thoughts have been doing a twice daily roundup of the latest news/Posts about the Gaza War..a wide selection of interesting posts. This is a link to his latest Gaza Update 4.5--Its Highly Reccomended


Unknown said...

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Maor Shani said...

I’ve decided that it's time to systematically refute the “disproportionate reaction” argument once and for all and build the case for Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza. I hope that you would find my arguments convincing enough.

1. Let’s first understand the context - Israel left the Gaza Strip in August 2005 and does not constitute an occupying force in that area. There is currently only one Israeli soldier in Gaza – his name is Gilad Shalit. He was kidnapped by Hamas from Israel’s territory in 2006 and since then no one has heard from him.

2. Gaza Strip since the summer of 2005 is a non-state region taken hostage by a militant radical Islamist group. Since Hamas ultimately fights for the destruction of Israel (take a look at its Charta to verify), Israel should not negotiate with Hamas, and it is in fact obligated to refrain from any contact with the organization. That includes closing the crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel. While this would be justified, Israel continues to provide services and resources to the Palestinians in Gaza despite the fact that it is being ruled by a hostile entity.

2. Hamas has fired more than 6,000 rockets on Israeli civilians in the last 3 years, while having no official excuse like “fighting the Israeli occupation”, which has ended in 2005. Israel, unlike what many Israeli spokesmen like to say, does not have the right to defend its citizens from those rockets – it must defend its citizens from any external threat on their lives and their daily routine. Again, it is not a right- it’s a duty.

3. After establishing that Israel must act against Hamas – let’s review the conditions of the latter’s actions: Hamas is not an official state’s army, but an internationally recognized terror organization. Its people are civilians in Gaza, operating within a civilian population. The rockets are held in storage within civilian private and public places, and are often launched from these areas directly at Israeli communities.

4. If Israel is to attack Hamas, as an act of self defense, it becomes clear that there will be civilian casualties on the Palestinian side. They are clearly, however, not the target. Not only that the Israeli army does not aim at attacking civilians, it also invests milliards of dollars in developing and purchasing technologies that will minimize civilian collateral damage and will allow an accurate hit on military-terrorist targets. In fact, the Israeli army makes more efforts to refrain from civilian casualties than any other army in the world, and that is why Palestinian civilian casualties in Israeli military actions have constituted so far less than 5% of the total number of casualties.

5. A common accusation that comes even from those who do understand all the above is that Israel attacks the Palestinian terrorists “disproportionately”. For instance, in the current war against Hamas it is given that Israel has killed more than 300 Palestinians, while only 4 Israelis died from Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israel. Here I would like to make three points:

5. 1. Proportionality is not measured by the outcome but rather by the intention. Every single rocket Hamas fires on Israel is meant to cause civilian casualties. However, Israeli air and ground attacks against Hamas are meant to cause as less damage as possible to civilians, and as much damage as possible to the terrorists. The optimal result for Israel would be 100% Palestinian militant casualties, while Hamas’ optimal result is 100% Israeli civilian casualties.

5. 2. 6,000 rockets Hamas fired on Israelis can result in dozens of thousands of Israeli civilian casualties. This is not the case not because Hamas doesn’t want to target so many Israelis – but simply because Israel protects the potential victims. People in the city of Sderot, near the border with Gaza, which is being attacked by Hamas for almost 8 years now, are sitting in shelters and protected areas when Hamas fires rockets on the city. They go to school with protection from rockets, play in secured playgrounds, and receive a 15 seconds alarm before a rocket is about to explode. This point should be as clear as possible – there were “only” 4 dead Israelis from Hamas’ rockets in recent days because all the people who live in the range of the rockets (around half million people now) sit in shelters and are protected when Rockets are being launched.

5.3. Israel response, it can therefore be said, is indeed disproportionate. A proportionate response, if that’s Israel’s aim, would be to fire 6,000 rockets directly at civilians in Gaza. If these civilians sit in Shelters like their Israeli counterparts, there would be much less Palestinian casualties. This is of course not the case – Israel does not target civilians, since its aim is not to “get even” with the Palestinians – but to remove the threat of Hamas on Israeli civilians, a threat that has made the life of half million Israelis unbearable for such a long time.

6. In conclusion, I would like you to ask yourself, how is it that in Israeli attacks on Hamas’ headquarters in Gaza there are civilian casualties? What are civilians doing in a place from which rockets are being fired? And why aren’t they protected by Hamas the same way that Israeli citizens are protected by Israel when rockets explode? When you understand the answer to these questions, you will understand the reason for civilian casualties in the current war.


Comments? Questions?