Sunday, March 15, 2009

In the simple offer of humanity...

Taking my weekly wade through WSJ turned this -

The U.S. has complained to Israel over the holdup of aid shipments to Gaza of items as basic as jam, toothpaste and toilet paper, which U.S. officials say are being frequently trapped amid an erratic decision-making process.

Howard Sumka, mission director for the United States Agency for International Development in the Palestinian territories, said senior diplomats have had to intervene with Israeli authorities, and aid workers have had to repack shipments to meet changing criteria of what qualifies as vital humanitarian aid. He said the situation hasn't improved despite U.S. efforts.

A spokesman for Israel's Ministry of Defense, Peter Lerner, said humanitarian aid is getting into Gaza every day, including 110 aid trucks on Thursday.

But he acknowledged disagreements with donor countries and aid groups over what counted as humanitarian aid. "There may be differences between what we consider basic food commodities and what the various governments and aid organizations want to bring in," said Mr. Lerner. "That's where the question marks are being raised."

On Thursday, Israel rejected a shipment of 960 boxes of tuna, canned meat, diapers, wet wipes, sterile gauze, blankets and candles, along with 184 boxes of flashlights, Mr. Sumka said. A week earlier Israel had approved the shipment, but reversed the decision Wednesday evening, he said. "When you're dealing with that kind of uncertainty it makes it hard for us to plan, it creates inefficiencies and it certainly makes it more costly to deliver the assistance," said Mr. Sumka.

Now I know that the response from many will be that Israel owes nothing to Gaza, that they are implacable enemies and all of the rest of it so "...why should they help?"

Well, in my naive simplicity, my response would be "Out of simple humanity." Forget every other "consideration" (read "excuse for not helping"), or the attribution of fault. The numbers of Gaza residents who constitute the active members of Hamas (and any other of the various criminal groups) might reach 30% (up from 10% over the past year). I have no way of knowing that truth. The fact is that a very sizeable proportion of Gaza's population are the innocents; the children for a start, and the majority of women.

That it is the deliverers of American aid that are having the problems and complaining should add some weight.

What seems to be coming through is that the Israelis are doing nothing "wrong", as such. In the same way as they never have done anything "wrong". They are just making sure that nothing goes "right" either. They have no desire to make things easy, or right, or even be helpful.

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