Hamas turned away two large truckloads of Israeli humanitarian aid intended to relieve medical shortages in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday.
The IDF said it coordinated the transfer of eight truckloads of vital medical equipment through the Kerem Shalom crossing due to severe humanitarian conditions in the Hamas-controlled enclave, with hospitals struggling to treat Palestinians wounded in clashes on the Israel-Gaza border on Monday and Tuesday.
Hamas accepted four trucks of aid supplied by the Palestinian Authority and two trucks supplied by UNICEF. But two truckloads of medical aid provided by the IDF were turned away when the origin of the equipment became apparent.
In addition to 53 tons of medical equipment set to be transported into Gaza this week via the crossing, the increased Israeli aid included more than 14,000 units of intravenous infusions, 40 medical basins, 20 medical examination couches, 25 infusion stands, 85,000 disinfectant pads and 12,500 bandages.
The transfer was facilitated by the IDF in coordination with the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) and the Gaza District Coordination and Liaison office.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman approved the reopening of the crossing on Monday, three days after Palestinian protesters set it ablaze
for a second time in two weeks, causing damage worth NIS 30 million ($8.3m) to the crossing’s infrastructure.
The Hamas-run Health Ministry reported that 64 Palestinians were killed and hundreds wounded over the two days of clashes.
A joint investigation by the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) concluded that at least 24 of the Palestinians killed during Monday’s clashes were members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Fifty of the casualties were Hamas members, senior Hamas official Salah Al-Bardawil said Wednesday in an Arabic-language television interview circulated widely on social media.
The director of Gaza’s Shifa Hospital’s emergency department, Ayman Al-Sahabani, told Reuters that medical supplies were running out.
“We are talking about 25 times the capacity of the emergency department, with all the big challenges and the shortage of medicine and medical supplies that has reached critical levels... A lot of these patients are waiting their turn to enter the operating rooms,” he said.
Increased efforts should be made to improve conditions in the Gaza Strip, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said at a UN Security Council meeting
“Starting [on Wednesday], the United Nations, together with international partners, will need to focus and redouble efforts to implement projects that will have an immediate impact on improving the electricity, water and health situation as a matter of urgency,” he said.