As Gaza hospitals suffer shortages, Hamas refuses Israeli medical aid
Two trucks of supplies from the IDF entered the Strip but were returned after ruling terror group saw they were from Israel
The Hamas terrorist group on Wednesday refused to accept two shipments of medical supplies for Gaza hospitals, which are struggling with shortages, after seeing they were sent by Israel, Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians said.
On Tuesday, Israel facilitated the entrance of eight trucks full of medical equipment into the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom Crossing, which reopened earlier that day after it was burned by Palestinian rioters last Friday.
Four of the shipments were from the Palestinian Authority, two from the United Nations Children’s Fund and two were provided by the Israel Defense Forces’ Technological and Logistics Directorate.
According to Israel, the IDF shipments included IV fluids, bandages, pediatric equipment and disinfectants, as well as fuel for hospital generators.
However, on Wednesday morning, after the trucks passed through the crossing, Hamas officials saw that the two shipments from Israel had labels identifying them as coming from the IDF and sent them back, according to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories liaison unit.
“Hamas officials checked the trucks, saw that there were IDF stickers on the medications and said they were not prepared to accept medicine with IDF labels on it,” said a COGAT spokesperson.
The six shipments from the PA and UNICEF were accepted.
The Hamas-led organizers of the Palestinian protests along the Gaza border confirmed that they would not accept medicine “from the murderers of our people,” despite the widespread shortages of medical supplies in the coastal enclave.
The terrorist group accused Israel of “trying to improve its black image” by sending the humanitarian aid.
In the wake of mass riots Monday on the Gaza border, already strained hospitals in the beleaguered coastal enclave have struggled to provide treatment to the more than 1,500 patients that the Hamas-run health ministry says were injured in the clashes.
According to the Hamas ministry, 60 Palestinians were killed along the border on Monday, including several Hamas members who were shot dead in direct clashes with IDF soldiers.
In total, Israeli security forces have identified at least 24 of the people killed as known members of terrorist groups, mainly Hamas and the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Israel has not put out its own official death toll, but some have questioned the accuracy of the Hamas-provided figure. For instance, a Gazan doctor told the Associated Press that an 8-month-old baby, who the Gaza ministry said died after inhaling Israeli tear gas on Monday, had a preexisting medical condition and that he did not believe her death was caused by tear gas.
Even before the latest round of bloodshed, Gaza’s health system of 13 public hospitals and 14 clinics run by NGOs had been buckling under persistent blockade-linked shortages of medicines and surgical supplies.
According to the IDF, the two trucks that were turned away contained thousands of units of IV fluid, beds, hospital gowns, IV fluid stands, thousands of bandages and thousands of units of antiseptic chemicals.
“Hamas basically said it would rather get no equipment than get aid from Israel,” the COGAT official said.
On Tuesday, Palestinian officials also refused to allow trucks loaded with goods into the Gaza Strip through the newly reopened Kerem Shalom Crossing.
Shipments of medical supplies, food and diapers arrived at the crossing on Tuesday morning. But officials on the Palestinian side said they could only allow through the medical supplies and sent back 14 trucks full of food and diapers, The Times of Israel learned.
It was not immediately clear why the border officials, who are employed by the Palestinian Authority, would not accept the shipments.
Israel had closed the crossing late last week in order to assess and repair significant damage caused by rioters there last Friday evening.
On Monday night — hours after Gazans again ransacked the facility — the army announced that Israel would be reopening Kerem Shalom on Tuesday.
“Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman approved the recommendation of the Israel Defense Forces and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to reopen the Kerem Shalom Crossing tomorrow,” the army said in a statement.
The crossing, near the Egyptian border, serves as the main entry point for commercial goods and humanitarian aid into the coastal enclave, which has been subject to a strict blockade by both Israel and Egypt for the past 11 years that is meant to prevent terrorist groups from bringing weapons into the Strip.
While the crossing reopened on Tuesday, it will only be able to function at a partial capacity in light of substantial damage caused to the facility, including to the fuel lines — the only way to bring diesel and gasoline into Gaza in significant quantities.
On Sunday night, the United Nations said an alternative way of getting fuel to Gaza must be found urgently, warning of dwindling supplies needed to run hospitals, pick up garbage, pump water and treat sewage.
Palestinian rioters ransacked the crossing for the third time in two weeks on Monday, toward the end of the violent mass protests along the border, the army said.
The Israel Defense Forces said around 40,000 Gazans participated in “unprecedentedly” violent riots along the security fence on Monday. The protests, which Israel said were spurred by Hamas seeking to carry out terror attacks, saw multiple cases of shots fired at Israeli troops and several unsuccessful attempts to breach the border.
IDF soldiers responded with tear gas and, in some cases, live fire. Israel faced immediate international backlash and accusations of excessive force. The army maintains that its soldiers adhered to rigidly defined rules of engagement and only used live rounds as a last resort.
Rioters first attacked the crossing on May 4. They broke through the gates and, apparently believing they were in Israeli territory, set fire to the fuel lines, according to Israeli officials. In actuality, they were on the Palestinian side of the crossing.
One week later, another group of some 200 people broke into the Palestinian side of the crossing, following that day’s border protests.
However, according to Israeli officials, the Hamas terrorist group directed this attack on the crossing. Its operatives instructed rioters “what to do, where to go,” a senior COGAT officer told reporters on Sunday.
The rioters again set fire to the fuel terminal. They also torched a specially designed conveyor belt used to bring raw construction material into Gaza and wrecked two other conveyor belts used to transport animal feed.
Israeli and Palestinian officials estimate that it will take at least several weeks to bring the fuel lines and conveyor belts back online.