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Israel Blockade Getting in the Way … UNRWA Says

Could Israel fully ease the blockade while at the same time implementing security measures that could guarantee safety? PJM interviews the United Nations Relief and Works Agency's spokesman in Gaza.

by
Stephanie L. Freid

Bio

June 25, 2010 - 12:00 am
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The call for a complete blockade lift, however, runs contra to Israel’s need for safety guarantees against incoming weapons shipments via sea and arms smuggled through checkpoints.

Gunness first addresses the issue of crossing points — a bottleneck problem he sees as critical to easing the flow of goods.

“There are several crossing points from Israel to Gaza and the one we’re forced to use now — Kerem Shalom — is basically an open field and Palestinians on the Gaza side have clear views of (Israeli) truck drivers. We should be getting Israeli customs authorities to inspect shipments at Ashdod, and take goods to the Karni crossing. It’s industrial, like LAX, and security there is much better than at Kerem Shalom,” Gunness suggested.

This is because, according to Gunness, pallets have to be unloaded, inspected, put on Israeli trucks, unloaded again at the crossing, and re-loaded to Palestinian trucks — a time-consuming process.

As for the issue of keeping weapons from flowing by sea into Hamas’ hands, Gunness referred back to UNRWA’s “pilot” trial of importing cement to the strip and not having it fall into terrorists’ hands.

A diplomatic source referring to the sea blockade suggested that Israel inspect all incoming shipments at Ashdod’s port and subsequently escort vessels down the coast all the way to Gaza. “The navy could float down and watch them go through so you wouldn’t have a security issue whatsoever. It would be foolproof,” the source offered.

We have learned that nothing is foolproof — not advance warning systems, security fences, or blockades.

In light of Gunness’ bold suggestions, however, could Israel fully ease a blockade while at the same time implementing security measures that could guarantee safety?

Again, nothing is foolproof. 

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Stephanie L. Freid is a freelance writer in Israel.
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