Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Report "No humanitarian aid on "humanitarian" MAvi Marmara ship"

The European-Israeli Missing Peace organization claims that IDF Spokesman confirms that IDF has found only personal effects and no humanitarian aid of any kind on the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara, that was boarded by Shayetet 13. Below is the full text of their press release and accompanying documentation.

Press release

 Jerusalem June 9 2010

 Turkish Ship Mavi Marmara did not have any humanitarian cargo aboard



A member of our Missing Peace team who was yesterday at the Tzrifin IDF base where part of the cargo of the Free Gaza ships is stored, reported the following to our office,
She confirmed that the head of the logistics department of the Israeli Defense Ministry informed those present, that there was no humanitarian aid (cargo) on the Mavi Marmara.
The logistics department is in charge with unloading and repacking the humanitarian aid.  She said that only money and personal belongings were found on the ship.
Attached you will find a full report with a breakdown of the cargo found on the flotilla ships. The information in this report is confirmed by an Israeli official.
Confirmation details can be obtained at our office untill 12.00 PM and from tomorrow 7.30 AM Israeli time
Yochanan Visser
Director Missing Peace Office
tel: 00972546300116 or 0097229309182


Humanitarian aid on the Flotilla


On June 7 2010 the Israeli Defense Ministry gave a tour for the media at the Tzrifin army base. A member of Missing Peace joined the tour which was dealing with the humanitarian aid found on one of the flotilla ships. The Defense Ministry has unloaded and stored the cargo of the ships on this army base after Hamas refused to allow the goods into Gaza

In this report we like to focus on the humanitarian aid issue. This is something that seems to have gotten "lost" in the midst of the discussions about the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish Ship were nine people were killed in a fight between a terrorist militia of the Turkish IHH and the IDF.

The tour at Tzrifin

Participating in the tour were many local journalists, as well as foreign journalists such as FOX news Walla, and Swiss Radio.

After a security briefing the journalists got into their cars and drove in a convoy deep into the army base. Once they had parked and gotten out of the cars they faced a huge open area with lots of objects and equipment on the right side. On the left side was a huge closed storage area.                                                                                                                             The journalists were briefed by the head of the Logistical Department from the Defense Ministry, who is in charge of the flotilla cargo. As of June 7 all the equipment and things stored in Tzrifin were from only from one of the flotilla ships, named "Defne Y".  Meanwhile the unloading of the other ships has been almost completed.

The Defense Ministry spokesman told the reporters that the Ashdod port is under jurisdiction of the Defense Ministry. At the time they had unloaded 1 out of 3 flotilla ships, and loaded 45 trucks with humanitarian aid

Of these trucks, 8 were sent to the Kerem Shalom crossing, and the rest of the trucks were unloaded in Tzrifin. At the Kerem Shalom crossing they unloaded 300 electric wheel-chairs. Through this crossing 80-100 trucks transfer humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip on a daily basis. The cargo with the wheel-chairs is waiting to be picked up by whoever is taking responsibility for it. So far no one claims responsibility and it's still waiting in storage

The  normal modus operandi is that COGAT is in touch with the Palestinian Authority Civil Committee, which sits in Gaza, and with various international organizations (UN, Red Cross etc.).  Those organizations coordinate who will pick up the aid. If for example the aid is for special humanitarian aid projects of the UNRWA, then UNRWA representatives are responsible for going to the crossing and picking up the aid. If it's for private PA businesses, then the PA is responsible for the picking up of the goods. Israel, the PA and International organizations are in constant contact and cooperation.

The Aid

Among the aid are: electric wheel chairs, medical equipment (medicines, hospital equipment: beds and mattresses [60 tons]), clothing, carpets, toys, school bags, playground equipment, cement, iron, and other construction materials.

A breakdown of the cargo found on the ships shows that of the six ships of the flotilla only three had humanitarian aid aboard:

Gaza ship: building materials, cement, iron – The ship has not been fully unloaded.

Sofi ship:  building materials, iron

Defne Y ship: clothing, humanitarian aid (roughly 40 trucks worth), and games, building materials, wheelchairs.

The "Marmara": carried only passengers and their personal belongings. Many passengers carried large sums of money on their body. There was no Humanitarian aid on this ship.


The other two ships did not carry humanitarian aid as well


The humanitarian aid on all the ships was not packaged and not placed on the ship in an organized way, as one would expect from an organized humanitarian aid cargo. Everything was in individual units thrown on to a pile on the ships. This was not only unsafe, but it also caused a lot of damage to the objects, since the weight crushed a lot of things and since a lot of the things were just thrown on board. To deal with the cargo on the ships, here are the stages that it must undergo by Israel:

1.    Israel scans all the cargo and sifts out the humanitarian aid. The aid is then placed on trucks.

2.    The aid goes through x-ray machines to see that everything is indeed safe.

3.    Since nothing was packaged and organized, Israel did this.

This entire procedure costs a lot of time and a lot of money.

The handling of the aid

When asked how many tons of aid was on all the ships, the spokesman said they don't know yet, since the only way one can weigh something is, if it's packaged, compressed and sealed. He showed a stack of wood boxes with labels and said that this was done by Israel and if all the aid would have been like this then they could have easily weighed it all and said how many tons of aid there is.

In regards to the story about the electric wheel-chairs, Hamas claims that Israel took out all the wheel-chair batteries so that they can't be used by the people. The spokesman said that first of all, Hamas can't know what Israel is doing because they are not allowing the aid into the Strip. Secondly, one needs to take out the batteries from the wheel chairs because if they are stored for a long time in the heat with the batteries, the batteries get ruined. He then took the journalists to the inside storage space, which is kept cool. There all the batteries were neatly placed in boxes all lined up. He said that the minute they will get a green light from Gaza, Israel can transfer everything into the Strip. Then the batteries will be transferred together with the chairs.

The batteries for the electric wheel chairs are gel batteries. Hamas says that Israel does not allow the entry of batteries into the Gaza Strip. Asked what the problem is with batteries the spokesman said the problem is not with gel but with liquid batteries.  This is because 1 liter of this battery liquid can produce 50 kilos of nitroglycerin which is an active ingredient in the manufacture of explosives, specifically dynamite.


Expired and worn goods

Medicine: Out of the 400 tons of humanitarian aid on the ship only about 4 tons was medicine and medical equipment. A Japanese reporter who visits Gaza regularly, said that what is needed in Gaza is hospital/medical equipment and medicine. He said that if the flotilla would have been really concerned about what is needed in Gaza, they would have made sure to send more medical things. Furthermore, most of the medicine was expired. Medicines were shown whose expiration date was Sept. 2009. The medicines were stored in a separate cooled in-door storage space.

Clothing and shoes: most of the clothes and shoes were so worn that they cannot be used. Many of the shoes had holes and the shoe soles were half broken; many of the clothes were torn. They were private donations and were just thrown on to the ship.

Only 1/3 of the ship's cargo was new equipment.

Cement and other construction materials: all the construction materials on the ships are waiting for project approvals in the Gaza Strip. The minute a specific humanitarian project is approved the construction material is allowed into the Strip. For example 151 housing units of the UNRWA have been approved and construction material will be transferred for it.

Hamas rejects the Humanitarian Aid                                                                  Hamas has rejected the transfer of the humanitarian aid from the flotilla into the Gaza Strip. The first reason is that it does not want it to pass through Israel. The second reason is that it says it is waiting for Turkey to decide for who the aid was meant. The third reason is that they want to have everything found on the ships.

Politics and not humanitarian action                                                                           Israel is in contact with the PA and with International authorities and is waiting to hear from them how to proceed. Yesterday the Japanese reporter was in Gaza to find out exactly who these international authorities are.  He spoke with the PA civil-committee about this issue. They said that it is the responsibility of UNRWA. Then he called UNRWA and he was told that they are not in contact with Israel and that it is not in their power to decide, but that it is the responsibility of UNSCO.

UNRWA also said that they received a message from Hamas telling them that they should not allow any humanitarian aid from the flotilla to enter the Gaza Strip.  UNSCO also said that they are not in charge of the flotilla aid. They said that UNRWA deals with it, when confronted with the UNRWA reference to them, the man on the phone laughed and said this is not the case.

Next was COGAT, they first refused to give specific names and said "you can imagine who these international authorities are". When pressed they said they are in touch with UNRWA, the Red Cross and "other powerful players such as the USA", The COGAT official did not want to get more specific because he did not want to blame any particular organization until things are sorted out.  The International Red Cross in Gaza told that they have their own projects and bring in their own aid.

They said they have nothing to do with the flotilla. When asked if they have met with Hamas about the flotilla, IRC said that they have had discussions with Hamas who told them not to accept any of the aid. Hamas declared that they have conditions that they want to have met before allowing the humanitarian aid to enter the Strip.

The Japanese journalist, who is personally familiar with Gaza and with Hamas, said that this whole incident has turned from a humanitarian into a political issue. He said that if there is a real need for humanitarian aid in Gaza then everyone would work quickly to allow the entry of the aid into the Strip. Furthermore he said that if in Africa they need food, no one waits to deliver it.


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