Ayalon: No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

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KEREM SHALOM CROSSING - Israel is showing the world the types of goods and materials it's now allowing into Gaza.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon took more than 80 diplomats on a tour of Israel's Kerem Shalom crossing, where supplies passes from Israel into Gaza.

The visit followed Israel's decision to allow more goods into the Gaza Strip.

Ayalon said Israel is providing for the people of Gaza, while also trying to keep support away from the terrorist group Hamas.

"The policy is to distinguish between the Hamas terrorists, which by the way do not represent Palestinian interests but Iranian interests," he said. So we must distinguish between these Hamas terrorists and the civilian population."

Ayalon also told the that no humanitarian crisis exists in the Gaza Strip.

"Our primary responsibility, as with any government, is the safety and security of our citizens," he said.  "Following the government's decision, we will double and even triple the amount of goods sent into Gaza. The only bottlenecks that will remain will be on the Palestinian side."

"The people who work at the crossing do so under constant threat," the deputy foreign minister said while reviewing the security procedures at Kerem Shalom.

"Even though this crossing itself has been targeted on a regular basis, including yesterday when a missile landed not far from here, we will continue meeting our responsibilities so there is a continual and constant flow of goods into Gaza," Ayalon said.

"Our policy is to distinguish between Hamas and other terrorist organizations that represent Iranian interests and occupy Gaza and the civilian population," he said, noting that "although Hamas remains the main obstacle to peace, Gaza is not the main issue."

"As you can see, there is no need for any flotillas. These are extremely provocative and are backed by the radical alliance of Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah," he said.

"We will continue to work with the recognized international bodies, like the United Nations and the International Red Cross, to ensure that building projects will be completed while ensuring that Hamas will not expropriate cement and other building materials to reinforce their military positions," he said.

Ayalon also urged the foreign diplomats to do everything within their sphere of influence to help secure the release of IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit.

Palestinians kidnapped Shalit in June 2006 by tunneling under the security fence and attacking an IDF outpost near the Kerem Shalom crossing. He has been held by Hamas, the Palestinian faction controlling the Gaza Strip, since his abduction.

"I would like to stress and emphasize the importance of the release of Gilad Shalit. It is vital that the entire international community will use all of its influence with those who are holding our citizen to release him immediately," he said. 

With regard to negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, Ayalon said "Israel has done absolutely everything possible to move the peace process forward. We need to see one Palestinian Authority and for President [Mahmoud] Abbas to immediately come to the negotiation table without preconditions and excuses," he said.

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