No humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Ashkenazi says

Rocket strikes south of Ashkelon, causing no casualties or damage.

March 24, 2010 03:30
1 minute read.
Muslim women in the Gaza town of Jabaliya.

Gaza women protest 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

The Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are not under siege and are not enduring a humanitarian crisis, IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said in a briefing to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday.

Speaking after high profile visits to Gaza by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Ashkenazi showed the MKs pictures of bustling markets in Gaza. He said hundreds of trucks come into Gaza supplying fuel, gas, water, and medical equipment and hundreds of people come into Israel for medical care.

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“Talk of hunger and a siege in Gaza is incorrect,” Ashkenazi said. “There is no humanitarian crisis.”

Ashkenazi said there has been a rise in rocket fire from Gaza at Israeli civilians, but he blamed it on tension over Jerusalem and said he did not believe it would intensify.

“Hamas is trying to prevent [the rocket fire] and is not interested in an escalation,” Ashkenazi said. “But from our standpoint there is only one address in Gaza, and it is Hamas.”

A Kassam rocket hit the Ashkelon coastal region, south of Ashkelon, on Sunday night, causing no casualties or damage.

Ashkenazi said that besides rocket attacks, there are attempts to harm soldiers on the border, lay mines and attack by sea. The terrorist organization is constantly trying to smuggle more weapons into Gaza, but not as much as it would want due to lack of funds.

“Hamas is not succeeding in arming itself at the pace it would like, and we are not succeeding in preventing the arming at the pace we would like,” he said. “The relative quiet currently is a result of our deterrence. Hamas doesn’t want an operation [like Cast Lead] to repeat itself, but a deterioration can happen and we are drilling, so we will be ready.”

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