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Humanitarian Aid to Gaza by Israel - Enough or not?

20 January, 2009

The BBC News leads the misleading again 

by Endre MOZES*


During Operation Cast Lead Israel declared repeatedly, and rather confidently, that it had provided Gaza with sufficient humanitarian aid, primarily food. The world doubted, some like the BBC World News ridiculed these statements with equal self-confidence. Who tells the truth - if any?


The updated figures of food and other humanitarian aid transported into Gaza by Israel during the three weeks of Operation Cast Lead, in co-operation with international organizations, the Palestinian Authority and various governments, is: 1,365 truckloads or 33,580 tons - as published today by The Israel Project based on official sources and checked from several directions.


The question remains: Is this sufficient? Or as the BBC quoted unnamed  international experts: about one tenth of the amount actually required? 

Not easy to answer at the first sight; most of us don't buy food by the truckloads, not even by the tons. In more practical units the above figures mean: 33.6 million kilogram food supplied for 1.4 million Gazans, in 21 days. That is 24 kg for every person, or 120 kg (264 pound) flour, oil, milk powder and other basic food commodities for any 5-member family. A round 6 kg - 13 pound - of such concentrated food every day. It doesn't sound very low - in case it really reaches the population and doesn't disappear on the hands of the Hamas regime.

120 kg  (264 pound) flour,

oil and other basic food commodities

for a 5-member family

BBC's 500 trucks - But, as the BBC's Gaza anchor, Lysa, told to an interviewed Israeli spokesman, Mark Regev: "yes, we know that Israel allows a few tens of trucks to enter the crossings, but international experts say 500 such trucks would be needed daily" - and this would mean that the Israeli supply of humanitarian aid was merely a show. Who is right and who is misleading us?


These are huge semi-trailers packed with 25 ton each. The BBC's 500 trucks daily would be 12,500 ton or 12.5 million kg. That is 45 kg or a round 100 pound food every day for a 5-member family. Dear BBC, isn't 100 pound food a bit too much for a day?!  This check required fifth-grade math only the BBC certainly masters. But so is it when one's emotions or political agenda obscure the eyes and the mind towards the facts.


The World Food Program informed Israel more than two weeks ago that it would cease shipment of food to Gaza because warehouses were there at full capacity (TIP [8] [9]). It seems they did not believe to the BBC and its "experts" either.


*Chairman of Take-A-Pen, a multilingual (18) grass-roots public diplomacy organization - http://www.takeapen.org

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