Hamas turned away two large truckloads of Israeli humanitarian aid intended to relieve medical shortages in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday.
The IDF said it coordinated the transfer of eight truckloads of vital equipment through Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing due to severe humanitarian conditions in the Hamas-controlled enclave, exacerbated by two days of violent clashes on the Gaza-Israel border.
Hamas accepted four trucks of aid supplied by the Palestinian Authority and two trucks supplied by UNICEF, but two further truckloads of medical aid provided by the IDF were turned away when the origin of the equipment became apparent.
In addition to 53 tons of medical equipment set to be transported into Gaza this week via the crossing, the increased Israeli aid included more than 14,000 units of intravenous infusions, 40 medical basins, 20 medical examination couches, 25 infusion stands, 85,000 disinfectant pads and 12,500 bandages.
The transfer was facilitated by the IDF in coordination with the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) and the Gaza District Coordination and Liaison office.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman approved the reopening of the crossing on Monday, three days after Palestinian protesters set it ablaze for a second time in two weeks, causing damage worth NIS 30 million ($8.3m) to the crossing’s infrastructure.
Hospitals in the Gaza Strip were reported to have struggled to treat the large number of Palestinians wounded in clashes with the IDF on the Israel-Gaza border on Monday and Tuesday.
The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry reported that 64 Palestinians were killed and hundreds wounded over two days of violent clashes.
The director of Gaza’s Shifa hospital’s emergency department, Ayman Al-Sahabani, told Reuters that medical supplies were running out.
“We are talking about 25 times the capacity of the emergency department, with all the big challenges and the shortage of medicine and medical supplies that has reached critical levels,” Sahabani said.
“A lot of these patients are waiting their turn to enter the operating rooms,” he added.
A joint investigation by the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) concluded that at least 24 of the Palestinians killed during Monday’s clashes were members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, urged a UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday to increase efforts to improve conditions in the Gaza Strip.
“Starting tomorrow, the United Nations, together with international partners, will need to focus and redouble efforts to implement projects that will have an immediate impact on improving the electricity, water and health situation as a matter of urgency,” Mladenov said.