The Story Behind Israel's Gaza Blockade

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THE KEREM SHALOM CROSSING - The White House on Thursday called Israel's decision to ease the flow of goods into the Gaza Strip "a step in the right direction."

Israel offered the olive branch to the Palestinians in the face of growing international pressure.

Although recent media reports have suggested no humanitarian aid is getting to Gaza, Israeli authorities say that's not the case.

Click play for more on the Gaza blockade with CBN News Jerusalem Correspondent Julie Stahl, following Chris Mitchell's report. 

A Delicate Balancing Act

The Kerem Shalom Crossing, the place where Hamas-controlled Gaza receives most of its daily supplies, has become the focus of worldwide attention.

An average of more than 100 trucks crosses daily through the Kerem Shalom Crossing. Since the beginning of 2010, more than 260,000 tons of humanitarian aid has passed through this portal from Israel into the Gaza Strip.

Captain Amitai Cohen works with the Gaza Coordination and Liaison and Administration - or CLA - which oversees the transfer of goods into Gaza.

"Gaza CLA is giving a professional response for each request given by the Palestinians civilian committee regarding anything they want basically," Cohen explained. "But those responses are based on security measures we need to take."

Those security measures mean Israel is trying to provide the civilians of Gaza with their basic needs, but also trying to restrict Hamas's ability to wage war.

To accomplish that, Israel keeps out dual-use goods from Gaza. Such items might include chemicals, which have civilian uses but also potential military uses, such as making explosives.

For years, Hamas has built and fired thousands of rockets into Israeli communities and terrorized Israeli citizens.

It has also pledged to destroy the Jewish state and allied itself with Iran in order to establish an Islamic empire throughout the Middle East.

Despite these threats to its existence, Israel continues to provide the people of Gaza with tons of supplies. In the past 18 months, nearly a ton of supplies for every man, woman and child have been delivered to Gaza.

Examining the Evidence

The crossing works this way -- Israeli trucks unload their goods in a protected, designated area. Then trucks from Gaza come in to load those supplies and take them back inside the Gaza Strip.

Israel also supplies fuel - more than 4 million gallons so far this year - for Gaza's power plants.

It also allows building materials supervised by the United Nations or other non-government organizations so Hamas can't build military installations.

Many feel the volume of goods passing through the Kerem Shalom Crossing undermines the claims by Hamas that it's facing a humanitarian crisis.

Instead of the claims of a crisis, many see this effort as a pretext designed to undermine Israel's attempt to enforce its naval blockade and keep Hamas from acquiring massive arms shipments.

The focus will soon turn back to the sea where other ships from Iran, Lebanon and Turkey have planned to break Israel's naval blockade.

In the meantime, goods will continue to pour into Gaza.

*Originally published June 18, 2010. 

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