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Israel colonel: Reducing humanitarian crisis in Gaza benefits Israel

May 3, 2019 at 10:40 am

Palestinians in Gaza protest to end the Israeli siege on the Strip on 5 February 2019 [Mohammed/Asad/Middle East Monitor]

The head of the Israeli army’s Coordination and Liaison Administration for Gaza, Colonel Iyad Sarhan, said that reducing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza Strip will serve Israel’s interest, explaining that the Palestinians’ weekly protests reflect their frustration with the economic situation.

“The continued security tension in Gaza makes it impossible for me to remember when was the last time, I and the settlers of the Gaza envelope have slept a full night. This is the reality we are dealing with. In Gaza, the refugees still believe that behind the border wall with Israel in the city of Magdal there is a house for them, and they want to return to it,” Sarhan told the Israeli daily Makor Rishon.

Colonel Sahran noted that as many as 180 international organisations operate in the Gaza Strip to prevent a humanitarian disaster, the most important of which are UNRWA, UNDP and the World Food Program.

READ: PA salary cuts leave Gaza employees unable to cope

“More than 1.3 million Palestinians in the enclave receive food aid, health services and education. UNRWA runs 280 schools in Gaza which provide education to 300,000 students. The organisation’s annual budget in Gaza reaches nearly $450 million, but the budget has been reduced after the US decision to stop funding the organisation,” said Sarhan.

He pointed out that Israel spends no money in the Gaza Strip, adding that the unemployment rate reached 50.9 per cent, rising to 70 per cent among youth.

Sarhan stressed that Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip resulted in the deterioration of the economic situation. In 2005 130,000 Palestinians received assistance from UNRWA, but today the number has reached 1.3 million; a tenfold increase in under 15 years, which does not serve Israel’s interests.

Israel has tightened a 12-year siege on the enclave limiting money transfers, the work of NGOs and humanitarian organisations, and the availability of construction materials which has led to the shrinking of Gaza’s economy and a lack of jobs.