Israeli Ambassador Slammed for Claiming 'There Is No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza'
"Does he think the world is not seeing the horrific reality in Gaza? Does he think we will believe his lies?" said one peace advocate. "No, we won't."
By Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams
Despite the abundance of evidence to the contrary, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations claimed in a televised interview Sunday that "there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza," and was swiftly rebuked by people around the world.
Challenged by CNN's Dana Bash, Ambassador Gilad Erdan doubled down on his position: "I'm not saying that the life in Gaza is great. And, obviously, Hamas is the only one that should be held accountable for any situation in Gaza. But there's a standard, due to international humanitarian law."
"What does it mean, a humanitarian crisis? And I'm saying, again, there is no humanitarian crisis, based on the international humanitarian law, right now in Gaza," added Erdan, who also cast doubt on the death toll being shared by local officials.
U.S. Congressman Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) called Erdan's comments "unbelievable," given the current conditions in Gaza a month into the war Israel launched after a Hamas-led attack on October 7, and urged the ambassador to resign from his position.
Also responding to Erdan's appearance on "State of the Union," Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the anti-war group CodePink, said: "Does he think the world is not seeing the horrific reality in Gaza? Does he think we will believe his lies? No, we won't."
As of Sunday, Israel's air and ground assault of the besieged enclave—enabled by billions in U.S. military support—has killed at least 9,770 people, including over 4,000 children, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza. The ministry last month publicly identified thousands of the dead as Israeli officials and others, including U.S. President Joe Biden, questioned the figures.
Those who have so far survived the Israeli assault are facing limited power, water, and communication services as well as dwindling supplies of food and medicine. The United Nations World Food Program stressed Sunday that the aid entering Gaza "is nowhere near enough to meet the exponentially growing needs."
"Right now, parents in Gaza do not know whether they can feed their children today and whether they will even survive to see tomorrow," said Cindy McCain, the U.N. program's executive director, as she returned from the Rafah border crossing in Egypt. "The suffering just meters away is unfathomable standing on this side of the border."
Erdan's interview Sunday was not the first time during the war that the Israeli government has contested conditions in Gaza. During a Sky News appearance in Mid-October, Israeli diplomat Tzipi Hotovely also said that "there is no humanitarian crisis."
As The New York Times reported Wednesday:
Israel's agency overseeing policy for the Palestinian territories, known as COGAT, maintained in a statement on Tuesday that there is "currently no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip" despite the mounting evidence to the contrary from aid agencies, journalists, and people living there. The statement said the Israeli government was monitoring the supply of water, food, fuel, and energy in Gaza and asserted that "the situation is far from crisis."
The newspaper added that "asked on Tuesday why Israel had cut off water supplies, in particular, to Gaza, the agency said that 'according to international law, Israel has no obligation to provide goods and services to the terrorist organization Hamas—especially in cases where the enemy uses them for war purposes (for example, with respect to electricity and fuel).'"
Former U.S. Ambassador David Satterfield, recently appointed by Biden as the special envoy for Middle East humanitarian issues, told reporters in Jordan on Saturday that "there is no evidence that Hamas is seizing or blocking aid entering the Gaza Strip."
Jessica Corbett is a senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams.
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