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Cablegate: Gaza Humanitarian Situation Remains Serious, With

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FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7436
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 0433
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SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE AND NEA/IPA; PRM FOR FRONT OFFICE AND
PRM/ANE; NSC FOR KUMAR; DEPT PLEASE PASS TO USAID FOR
ANE/MEA:MCCLOUD/BORODIN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD EAID EAGR PREF GZ IS
SUBJECT: GAZA HUMANITARIAN SITUATION REMAINS SERIOUS, WITH
QUALIFIED IMPROVEMENTS

REF: JERUSALEM 2094

1. (SBU) Summary: One year after the end of the war in
Gaza, the coastal territory remains in a challenging
humanitarian situation, with modest improvements in access
for humanitarian and commercial goods. The average number of
monthly shipments into Gaza increased by nine percent in 2009
compared to the previous year, but was driven primarily by
essential aid requirements during and following the conflict.
A relaxation in access beginning in December 2009 allowed
for shipments of glass and some other previously banned
materials, as well as exports of strawberries and carnations.
Many construction materials, including those for UN projects
for the electricity, water, and sewage networks and for the
health sector, remain in short supply. The private sector
continues to rely heavily on goods brought in through
tunnels. End summary.

Post-Conflict Aid Drives 2009 Figures
-------------------------------------

2. (SBU) The volume of humanitarian and commercial shipments
into Gaza in 2009 was nine percent higher than that of the
previous year, according to OCHA statistics. Even so, it was
only about a quarter of the pre-2007 volume. According to
OCHA statistics, the number of truckloads of supplies into
the Gaza Strip increased in 2009 (32,590 truckloads) by
nearly nine percent from 2008 (29,959 truckloads). Nearly 25
percent of the 2009 shipments were humanitarian, versus less
than nine percent in 2008, according to OCHA data.

3. (SBU) The increase in shipments and the significantly
higher proportion of humanitarian aid (basic foodstuffs,
blankets, and medicine) in 2009 likely reflect Gaza's urgent
humanitarian needs following December 2008-January 2009
combat operations, rather than meaningful improvement in
access. For the first three months of 2009, immediately
following the January 2009 cease-fire, the average number of
truckloads per month was more than 3,200, compared to an
average of less than 2,550 truckloads per month for the last
three months of 2009. In contrast, the first five months of
2007 (prior to Hamas's takeover in Gaza in June 2007) saw an
average of 12,350 trucksloads per month cross into Gaza from
Israel. If daily figures for January 2010 truckload
shipments into Gaza hold steady, the total number of
shipments for that month will be well below the monthly
average for 2009. Note: According to the GOI, there has
been a 28 percent increase in shipments into Gaza between
2008 and 2009. It is unclear how the GOI reached this
conclusion. End note.

Some Reconstruction Materials Permitted,
But Restrictions Continue
----------------------------------------

4. (SBU) In December 2009, the GOI expanded its list of
non-edible commodities allowed into Gaza, though most of the
items had been permitted in 2009 on a temporary basis. Most
notably, the GOI in late December 2009 began to allow glass
to enter Gaza for the first time since the December
2008-January 2009 conflict. As of January 25, 2010, 57
truckloads (32,110 boards) of glass entered Gaza, according
to PalTrade. Local contacts reported that small businesses
are selling glass for approximately NIS 100 (USD 27) per
square meter, approximately twice the price in Israel. The
reported GOI cap of 100 trucks per month still does not meet
local requirements, according to the UN.

5. (SBU) In January 2010, the GOI permitted the entry of
other previously banned materials, including plastic for
greenhouses (seven truckloads) and water coolers (36
truckloads). In addition, most of the remaining construction
materials for Phase A of the Northern Gaza Emergency Sewage
Treatment project were allowed into Gaza in December 2009 and
January 2010.

6. (SBU) Supplies for large-scale reconstruction, including
those needed for essential UN projects -- such as cement,
rebar, water pumps, and equipment for the electricity
networks -- remain restricted. Forty truckloads are still
waiting to enter Gaza for reconstruction of the electricity
network; 10 were allowed through in early December 2009.
According to the WFP, 77 percent of Gazans are "food
insecure" or "vulnerable to food insecurity." Most in those

JERUSALEM 00000187 002 OF 002


categories receive food aid from humanitarian agencies.
According to Oxfam, due to the destruction of the water
systems during December 2008-January 2009 combat operations,
tens of thousands rely on clean water distribution from aid
agencies and hundreds of thousands buy privately tankered
water.

7. (SBU) In the health sector, 15 of Gaza's 27 hospitals and
43 of its 110 primary health care facilities were damaged or
destroyed in December 2008-January 2009 combat operations,
and have not yet been rebuilt due to a lack of materials.
Contacts regularly cite the shortage of medical equipment --
x-ray machines, other electronic devices, and spare parts --
due to Israeli restrictions. There are few obstacles to
imported medicines, though coordination problems between the
Palestinian Authority and authorities in Gaza (who must
answer to Hamas) frequently result in shortages.

Fuel Update
-----------

8. (SBU) Cooking gas remains insufficient to meet demand.
According to OCHA, local need varies between 5,000 and 7,000
tons of cooking gas per month. Gaza received 1,739 metric
tons in October 2009, 1,202 in November 2009, and 2,614 in
December 2009. Note: Cooking gas is too unstable to be
transported in large volumes through the extensive network of
tunnels linking Gaza to Egypt, though it is now arriving in
canisters. End note. One reason for the shortage, according
to contacts, is the GOI's decision to shift fuel transfers to
Kerem Shalom (at the convergence of Egypt, Israel, and the
southern tip of the Gaza Strip), which has no storage tanks
and has a lower capacity than Nahal Oz, the previous
principal fuel transfer station (located north of Kerem
Shalom and between the Gaza Strip and Israel), which
officially closed on January 3, 2010.

9. (SBU) A local contact estimated that 40 percent of
bakeries have recently converted their ovens to run on diesel
instead of cooking gas. Chicken farms, which require cooking
gas to keep chicks warm, have also suffered considerable
losses (400,000 chicks died in November, according to the UN)
due to the lack of cooking gas. According to contacts in
Gaza, live chickens now cost NIS 16 (USD 4.30) per kilogram,
in contrast to NIS 10 (USD 2.70) per kilogram before the
onset of the severe cooking gas shortage in the fall. Diesel
and petrol, supplied through the tunnels as well as official
crossings, continue to meet local demand.

Two Gazan Exports
-----------------

10. (SBU) Following extensive lobbying by the Dutch
government, the GOI permitted exports of carnations beginning
on December 10, 2009, and strawberries beginning on January
3, 2010. According to PalTrade, Gazan farmers had exported
19 truckloads of carnations (2.3 million stems) as of January
28, 2010, an increase over the figures for that point in the
2008-2009 season (1.3 million stems) and the 2007-2008 season
(1.5 million stems). Gaza has the capacity to export 55
million stems (as it did in the beginning of the decade)
during the mid-November to mid-May export season.

11. (SBU) PalTrade reported that Gazan farmers have
exported 28 truckloads (46.1 metric tons) of strawberries as
of January 28, 2010. The strawberry export season lasts from
mid-November to mid-February, and Gaza's export capacity is
2,300 tons. Gaza did not export any strawberries in 2009 and
only exported 70 tons in 2008, in comparison to 1,345 tons in
2007 and 2,089 tons in 2006.

RUBINSTEIN

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