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"The situation in Gaza is not even close to developing into a humanitarian crisis," head of the Gaza Liaison Administration Col. Nir Press told The Jerusalem Post, claiming that charges made by the Palestinians were aimed at deceiving the international community.
On Friday, Israel offered to open the Kerem Shalom crossing to let 500 Palestinians, waiting on the Egyptian side of the border, into the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians rejected the offer, declaring they would only be willing to use the main crossing from Egypt, located in Rafah.
The offer was made out of humanitarian concerns, said Capt. Yossi Tzemah, spokesman for the administration. The Rafah terminal was closed two weeks ago immediately following the kidnapping of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, abducted during a deadly attack on his IDF outpost outside southern Gaza.
A top UN humanitarian official said last week that hundreds of thousands of civilians in the Gaza Strip were on the brink of a humanitarian crisis as a result of the IDF operations in the Gaza Strip. The bombing of a power plant in Gaza by the IAF two weeks ago the UN official said, was a violation of humanitarian law that brought needless suffering to innocent civilians.
Last week, Israel reopened the Karni crossing into the Gaza Strip but closed it on Thursday after Israel received intelligence indicating Palestinians were planning an attack on the main cargo crossing into Gaza. Close to 80 trucks loaded with medicine and food passed through the crossing before it was closed.
Press said that the type of merchandise ordered by the Palestinians and transferred into Gaza via Karni, included thousands of boxes of cherries and proved that there was not a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. "Judging by what the Palestinians order you can tell that there is not a crisis there," he said.
As head of the Gaza Liaison Administration, Press is playing an important role in Israel's current military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Together with the troops in Gaza, Press has dispatched liaison officers who are charged with coordinating any humanitarian issue that might develop on the ground during the fighting.
Over the past week, Press has also held numerous meetings with Defense Minister Amir Peretz and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz to discuss ways to prevent the IDF operations from creating a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Although Press maintained that there was not a crisis in Gaza at the moment, he admitted that the Palestinians would be in "distress" if Karni remained closed for an extended period of time. While Israel has allowed merchandise into the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians have not been allowed to transfer homegrown goods into Israel.
"There is no doubt that the situation in the Gaza Strip is not good," he said. "They cannot send through merchandise and their local economy is practically paralyzed."
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