Sometimes a little story just sums up so much. Today I read something in the Jerusalem Post that says just about everything there is to say about the continuing Israeli blockade of Gaza.

The office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories slammed UNRWA on Monday and accused the United Nations organization of creating a provocation at the Kerem Shalom crossing by bringing trucks to it carrying supplies that had not been approved by Israel for entry into the Gaza Strip.

And what were those “provocative” supplies?

Paper and plastic bags.

It seems UNRWA had asked permission to include them in the shipment of aid to Gaza but  Israel had not approved them.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said the organization’s schools in Gaza, which opened last week, only had 60 percent of the needed textbooks and that the paper was needed to fill the gap.
"We are running schools for 200,000 kids in Gaza and we have said for weeks that we would need to get it in…," Gunness said.

The need for plastic bags is explained in the latest Field Update from the UN’s humanitarian coordinator:

For example, on 30 January, UNRWA was not allowed to bring in the plastic bags that it uses to distribute supplies. With some 20,000 food parcels distributed daily, these bags are a vital component of UNRWA’s assistance.

Along with paper for school kids and plastic bags for food parcels, Israel is continuing to block shipment of cement and plumbing pipes needed to repair and replace the houses destroyed by the Israeli attack: 

Preliminary reports from 48 of the 61 localities suggest that 22.6 percent of housing units were damaged or destroyed, of which 16.7 percent had moderate damage, 3.2 percent had severe damage and 2.6 percent  were completely destroyed.  Over 66,000 people remain displaced in these localities, hosted by families  whose resources are increasingly overstretched.  IOM reported that a total of 21,000 homes in Gaza were  destroyed or badly damaged (approximately 13 percent of the total housing stock).  

For a sense of just what that destruction looks like, take a look at the photos and stories in Eva Bartlett’s report "Every family has a story." Bartlett writes that: 

Amnesty International sent a fact-finding team to Gaza following the Israeli attacks. Chris Cobb-Smith, also a military expert and an officer in the British army for almost 20 years, said "Gazans have had their houses looted, vandalized and desecrated. As well, the Israeli soldiers have left behind not only mounds of litter and excrement but ammunition and other military equipment. It’s not the behavior one would expect from a professional army."



Siun is a proud Old Town resident who shares her home with two cats and a Great Pyrenees. She’s worked in media relations and on the net since before the www, led the development of a corporate responsibility news service, and knows what a mult box is thanks to Nico. When not swimming in the Lake, she leads a team working on sustainability tools.

Email: media dot firedoglake at gmail dot com