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May 19, 2021 2:04 pm

Hamas Mortar Fire Barrage Prevents Transfer of Humanitarian Aid Into Gaza

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

A truck carrying goods arrives at the Kerem Shalom crossing on the Israel-Gaza Strip border, Aug. 15, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / File.

For the second time in 24 hours, humanitarian aid waiting to cross into the Gaza Strip was halted after the Hamas terrorist organization fired mortar shells at border crossings.

According to Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), three mortar shells were fired by Hamas at the Kerem Shalom crossing, while a shipment of humanitarian aid from Jordan was waiting to cross into the Gaza Strip. As a result, the planned aid shipment, which included trucks with medical equipment for Gaza civilians, was halted.

Israel’s Finance Ministry urged “the international community to condemn Hamas for preventing the humanitarian assistance from reaching those who need it in Gaza.”

On Tuesday, Israel temporarily reopened the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings — the main route for goods between Israel and Gaza — for the planned transfer of humanitarian civil aid to Palestinians in Gaza. Following the opening, repeated Hamas mortar fire launched at the Kerem Shalom crossing hindered the transfer of humanitarian aid, which was coordinated by Israel. The IDF reported that a 19-year-old soldier, who was assisting with the transfer of the humanitarian aid, was injured by shrapnel. The attack prevented Covid-19 vaccines, food, and supplies from reaching Palestinians in Gaza.

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“Attacks by Palestinian militant groups on crossings reported, where humanitarian supplies and personnel were being brought into Gaza, are unacceptable, preventing vital humanitarian supplies from entering,” said Lynn Hastings, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator.

The 40 trucks loaded with food, medical equipment, and other humanitarian aid were on their way to the crossing from Ramallah, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv, donated by OCHA, UNICEF, the Red Cross, and Doctors Without Borders. Only eight of the trucks were able to cross into Gaza in between the mortar barrages.

“Hamas’ repetitive terrorist fire at delegations leading civilian aid and medical equipment to the Gaza Strip, are further proof of Hamas’ complete disregard for the life and welfare of Palestinians,” commented Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

In another round of mortars fired at the Erez crossing by Hamas on Tuesday, two Thai workers were killed and another 10 people were injured.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) on Tuesday urgently called on Israel to enable humanitarian supplies and its staff timely access to Gaza, in accordance with its obligations under international law.

“UNRWA’s claim that Israel is preventing humanitarian aid from reaching Gaza is a cynical misrepresentation and simply a lie,” said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat. “This is not the first time UNRWA has chosen to twist the facts and misrepresent events for the sole purpose of blaming Israel.”

“Israel will continue its efforts to coordinate the transfer of humanitarian aid into Gaza, taking into account security considerations,” said Haiat.

UNRWA did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Algemeiner.

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