Cross To Israel, UN, EU: There Is No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza
and supplies are in abundance in Gaza.
The only thing missing is the truth. Islamic Jihad and Hamas will
try to use any weapon, including PR, to attack peace and democracy.
Israel News Agency
Israel ---- April 20, 2011 ...... Part of the following was communicated
by the Israel Defense Forces to the Israel News Agency.
Redmatn serves as the deputy director of the Red Cross in the
Gaza Strip. Redmatn has had the opportunity to see with her own
eyes what most of us only see on television screens.
On previous assignments,
Redmatn has lived in the Congo and in Colombia. Her activities
in Gaza are completely different, she says.
"Of course the
work is different everywhere, but here the fabric of life is problematic,"
she says. "There are two peoples, one living under closure
and one living under daily rocket fire, which violates international
Redmatn has a lot to
say about problems related to the closure Israel has placed on
Gaza but she also talks about the surprising normalcy in one of
the most explosive regions of the world that receives extensive
"There is no humanitarian
crisis in Gaza," she explains.
"If you go to
the supermarket, there are products. There are restaurants and
a nice beach. The problem is mainly in maintenance of infrastructure
and in access to goods, concrete for example. But above all, it
is important to remember that the Israeli army has the right to
protect the civilian population in its country. Israel is also
hurt on a daily basis by violations of international law by Hamas."
The International Red
Cross is an organization founded in 1863. It promotes laws that
protect the victims of war and provides humanitarian aid to people
living in conflict zones. Red Cross representatives have worked
in Gaza since 1967. Their goal, says Redmatn, is twofold.
"We are documenting
human rights violations according to international law and we
speak with relevant parties on how to take care of the issue,"
Redmatn says. "We are talking about captives , soldiers,
the wounded, and in fact anyone defined by the Geneva Convention.
Additionally, in the area of humanitarian assistance, we are mainly
engaged in the areas of water and sanitation. We are talking about
a highly dense population. Most of the infrastructure cannot be
improved due to the closure so we try to improve the situation
with existing tools. One example of this is a factory we helped
establish in order to clean sewage water that spills into the
It is important to
remember that the Red Cross is not a political organization by
definition. It operates through reports and two-sided dialogue,
without expressing its own positions, maintaining complete neutrality.
"Our goal is not
to negotiate peace, but to ensure the well-being of the civilian
population," Redmatn says. "We understand and recognize
Israel's right to security but it needs to maintain the balance
between that and the right of Palestinians living in Gaza to a
living and to proper medical care. Of course this is also the
responsibility of Hamas to its citizens and therefore we also
have relations with them."
The Red Cross played
a role in the Turkey sponsored, PR staged Gaza flotilla show last
"We offered our
assistance to Israel authorities in regards to people who were
arrested who were from countries without diplomatic relations
with Israel," Redmatn says. On the question of whether the
flotilla was peaceful, she answers neutrally "this is a matter
we discuss with the responsible parties." According to her,
the so called "peace flotilla" led to changes in Israel
policy on Gaza but those changes are not yet complete.
"More goods enter,
but there is still room for improvement" in regards to exports
and the passage of people, she says.
A clear goal, but is
it possible in light of the current threat? The subject, Redmatn
says, is sensitive.
"Rocket fire from
the Gaza Strip is against international law because it is directed
at civilians," she says. "We conduct hidden dialogue
with Hamas on the matter. As time passes, the dialogue also develops."
On recent events in
the Arab world, Redmatn states: "The new wind blowing in
the Arab world doesnt change the current activities of the
Red Cross in the Gaza Strip. It's still too early to tell what
will happen and how needs will change. In any case, we will respond
quickly to changes and we will see what the future holds."
"We will continue
to ask to monitor Gilad Shalit but we do not have the capability
to force anything on Hamas"
Operating in the Gaza
Strip requires the Red Cross to work on an ongoing basis with
with the IDF has developed over the years," Redmatn says.
"The army understands our mandate. We are in daily contact
with each other to coordinate the entry of goods into Gaza and
the entry and exit of people, sometimes our personnel and sometimes
patients who are going to Israel to receive medical care. The
second matter still needs improvement as the time required to
cross the border is still long. We hope to augment the medical
equipment in Gaza itself in order to reduce the number of people
who need to go outside [of Gaza]."
These days, she says,
the International Red Cross has the goal of strengthening its
relationship with IDF soldiers.
understands what we are doing," she says. "Therefore,
we talk about our work to soldiers who serve at the Erez crossing.
The intention is to expand this to the entire area around Gaza."
But working with the
Israel Defense Forces does not only regard the civilian population
living in Gaza; it also touches on captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
Repeated requests by
the Red Cross to monitor Shalit's condition have so far been met
with persistent refusal by Hamas.
"When a person's freedom is taken away, he deserves at least
contact with his family," Redmatn says. "We will continue
to ask but we do not have the capability to force anything on
Hamas. Hamas' refusal is based on security reasons. Hamas is afraid
of the IDF's advanced technological capabilities and believes
that allowing contact will lead to the location of Gilad."
Redmatn called on all
sides to abide by international law.
"It is important
that organizations and countries respect international law,"
she said. "Only thus will the situation get better."
The Free Gaza Movement,
a pro-Palestinian, pro Hamas terror umbrella group, has said that
a public relations staged flotilla is expected in late May. This
flotilla PR show in support of Islamic terrorism would comprise
of 15 ships with international passengers from Europe, the US
to Turkey, Gaby Levy, asked the Turkey government to help stop
these supporters of Jihad in Gaza, saying sending so called humanitarian
aide to Gaza outside legal channels was a "provocation,"
an Israel diplomatic official told Reuters.
Israel eased its policy towards the Gaza Strip. The immediate
implementation of this humanitarian policy is reflected in economic
growth of 15% in Gaza.
It is clear
to everyone, including the Red Cross, that there is no humanitarian
crisis in Gaza. There are established mechanisms, available to
all, to ship both humanitarian aid and commercial goods into Gaza.
Israel has approved 121 projects led by the international community
and the flow of all commercial and humanitarian goods continues.
Israel has upgraded the infrastructure and capacity of Kerem Shalom
crossing far beyond actual needs. More people are exiting Gaza
for humanitarian or commercial reasons and exports have been increased.