Rebuilding will take time
Photo: AFP
Rubble in Gaza
Photo: Reuters

Gazans get aid, blame Hamas for situation

Hamas members hand out aid to homeless Gazans, along with victory speech, claiming 'Israeli military machine defeated', promise to rebuild homes; some residents skeptical. Meanwhile, Minister Herzog tells US Mideast envoy crossings must not be opened

A Hamas cabinet minister carried a carton stuffed with checks worth nearly $2 million into a Gaza tent camp pitched on the ruins of the Salam neighborhood, close to the Israeli border.


But before hundreds of homeless residents could collect, they had to listen to a political speech. Social Affairs Minister Ahmed al-Kurd told them Israel's military machine was defeated and that the Hamas government would rebuild their neighborhood bigger and better.


"There's a lot of talk," resident Zayed Khader, 45, said after the speech, as he waited for his name to be called so he could pick up relief checks worth a total of $6,000 for his family of nine. "When I see them actually building my house, I'll say these are good words."

Tent camp in Jabaliya (Photo: Reuters) 


Khader watched Thursday's bustle, of cabinet ministers, bodyguards and aid deliveries, with disdain. He said he has told visiting Hamas politicians that the civilians are the losers and that they oppose continued rocket fire on Israel - the attacks that triggered the war.


"It's all hot air," he said of the officials' promises. "What do they care if my house is bombed?"


Jumma Dardona, whose nearby three-story family house has been rendered uninhabitable, fears he'll live in a tent for a long time. "No one knows the accurate period," said Dardona, 34, as he cut firewood behind the last row of tents, his 6-year-old son Mohammed by his side.


Dardona and several others in Salam said they want Hamas and Abbas' Fatah movement to put aside their rivalries. They say the infighting is one of the main reasons for the misery of Gaza civilians. "As long as they fight, I feel I am lost," said Dardona, who served as a policeman before the Hamas takeover.


Meanwhile, the power struggle between Hamas and Fatah on reconstruction in the Strip continues. Despite Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's statements that all contributions and aid was welcome, Hamas suspect the international community's goal is to get Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' foot back in Gaza in this manner.

Ruins of Beit Lahiya school (Photo: AP) 


In recent days, UNRWA expanded food aid, with some 900,000 Gazans now getting rations of flour, oil and sugar. On Thursday, each of 200,000 students in UN schools received about $25.


John Ging the top UN aid official in the territory told reporters this week, "The ordinary people here in Gaza are not getting enough help and are not getting it quickly enough."


Israel said UN trucks are given priority at crossings into Gaza and denied aid was getting stuck. "


"There are thousands of tons of assistance generously donated, sitting in Egypt, Jordan and also in the ports in Israel," Ging said. "That aid should be right here, right now, helping the people who need it."


200 aid trucks sent to Gaza daily

Meanwhile, US Mideast Envoy George Mitchell on Friday met with Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog, who is responsible for the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.


Herzog told Mitchell that some 200 aid trucks enter Gaza every day.


"Now the international community's test is to refrain from demanding the opening of the crossings, which would aid Hamas," Herzog said, "The opening of the crossings should be done only in exchange for (kidnapped soldier) Gilad Shalit. In the humanitarian aspect the Palestinian consumption is reaches its maximum capacity."


Mitchell stressed to Herzog the need to continue isolating Hamas.


Roni Sofer contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 01.30.09, 12:54
 new comment
This will delete your current comment