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Hamas has set up an independent hospital in the Gaza Strip to treat its operatives wounded in fighting with the IDF - and, according to Israeli estimates, it is pilfering a significant portion of the medicine allowed into the Strip, senior defense officials told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
Despite this estimate, the Defense Ministry said Monday that it would continue facilitating the transfer of food and medical supplies into Gaza. The humanitarian convoys, defense officials said, played a key role in garnering international legitimacy for the IDF's operations in Gaza since it showed the world that Israel distinguished between Hamas terrorists and Palestinian civilians.
On Sunday, Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin told the cabinet that Hamas was using mosques, public institutions and private houses as ammunition stores.
On Monday, the Defense Ministry facilitated the transfer of 49 trucks carrying basic foods into the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing. Since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead, the IDF has allowed some 450 trucks into the Gaza Strip.
Monday's operation was unique since it was the first time that supplies were allowed in since the IDF began its ground offensive inside Gaza and split the strip in half, cutting off the north from the south.
Bezalel Treiber, head of the Defense Ministry's Crossings Directorate, came to Kerem Shalom on Monday to oversee the operations, which included the opening of a humanitarian corridor from Gaza City to Kerem Shalom - located near the Egyptian border - to enable the trucks to travel from southern Gaza to the north.
"We are coordinating with the IDF and were able to open a road to allow the Palestinian workers at the crossing to get there and then travel with the supplies back to Gaza City," Treiber said.
A bus, he said, picked up some 20 Palestinian workers from Gaza City and transported them to Kerem Shalom, where they operated the forklifts and unloaded the supplies transferred into Gaza. Fifty trucks were then allowed into the crossing and a humanitarian corridor was opened in coordination with commanders inside Gaza to enable the supplies to reach Gaza City, where it is to be distributed to different areas in the Strip.
In addition to the supplies, the Defense Ministry also began laying a pipeline from Kerem Shalom on Monday in order to deliver fuel into the Gaza Strip. Fuel is usually transferred via the Nahal Oz fuel depot, which could not be operated on Monday due to terrorism threats.