Joel R. Schwartzman

Distributing aid in Gaza

Added to the swirl of information, of facts and false facts, about who is getting what aid that is entering Gaza is a fundamental question. Especially in light of the Biden proposed temporary harbor off the coast of Gaza, the systems by which the aid will be distributed requires an answer. It isn’t at all clear how the disaster that occurred when hungry Gazans stampeded to secure food for themselves and their families can be avoided. Even murkier is how any aid can be safely and securely be delivered to those in need, and not fall into the hand of Hamas or armed gunmen?

President Biden stated that no American boots will step onto Gaza’s shores.  f this be the case, is he expecting Israeli troops to set up a distribution system? Is the task to be handed to an already compromised UNRWA? Or is there some other agency or agencies that can handle these logistics, and, if so, who are they and how will they avoid the myriad pitfalls that accompany bringing food and other aid to the people of Gaza?

In a wider discussion, there has been the claim that Israel need not concern itself with the welfare of the Palestinians in Gaza. The argument is that since there seems to have been a acquiescence if not a wholesale support over the years of Hamas’ preparation for a war of annihilation against Israel, why should Israel not hold the thousands upon thousands of Palestinians in Gaza culpable? That the rest of the world demands a more humanitarian response from Israel does not necessarily obligate the Israelis, in the face of what horrors Hamas committed on 7 October, to feel sympathy for an enemy population; and although collective punishment is considered a war crime, until or unless Hamas’ war crime of kidnapping Israelis, whether alive or dead, must first be dealt with before Israelis might reconsider their stances.

It is not at all clear what the details of Biden proposed delivery of ships full of aid might be and just how they might successfully relieve the situation in Rafah. Some solutions may come of just how the material aboard Spanish and Turkish ships headed to Gaza will soon be handled. But the solutions to the overall headaches and logistical challenges involved in making sure the right recipients actually benefit (and not Hamas and its minions who have been walking off with much of what has already arrived only to resupply its forces or resell the aid at exorbitant prices) are critical and not at all clear at the time of this writing.

About the Author
After twenty-three years of military service, Rabbi Schwartzman retired at the rank of Colonel in September 1998. From July 1999 to July 2000, Rabbi Schwartzman was Associate Rabbi of Temple Sinai in Denver, Colorado. For a decade thereafter he served as the Rabbi of both Congregation B’nai Chaim in Morrison, Colorado, and the Synagogue of the Summit in Summit County, Colorado.
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