Gaza Mathematics

Posted: January 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, war | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments »

How cruel is the Israeli siege on Gaza? the IDF spokesperson’s tweets can give an idea.

I follow the IDF spokesperson on twitter (tweets are in English, btw). Every few days, there is an update there on the humanitarian aid and fuel trucks intended to pass through the Erez crossing point into Gaza.

Here are some examples:

Jan 14: #IDF: 108 aid trucks and supply of fuel and natural gas scheduled to cross into #Gaza today. Erez Xing open.

Jan 13: 171 aid trucks and a supply of fuel scheduled to cross into #Gaza today. Erez Xing open.

Jan 11: 74 aid trucks and supply of fuel and natural gas scheduled to cross into #Gaza today through Erez Xing

There are some Israelis who Re-tweet these messages to their followers. Some Israeli embassies do that too. I guess they see it as further evidence to Israel’s claim that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza because of the siege. But the truth is that these numbers tell a totally different story.

There are no natural resources in the strip and hardly any food is grown there, so all the population is dependent on supply of food, fuel and gas from the outside. The economy is on hold since the war, and 80 percent of the people live on humanitarian aid.

According to the CIA factbook, there are 1,551,859 people living in Gaza.

Let’s take the best day of the month, according to the IDF. That was Jan 13, in which 171 trucks crossed the border into Gaza. That’s 171 trucks for 1.5 million people, or one truck for 9,075 people (1,551,859 divided by 171). Now imagine having to feed, give clothing and supply heating and power to 9,075 people – like the population of a not so small US town – with a single truck.

Another example: On Jan 11, 74 fuel trucks crossed into Gaza. That’s one truck for 20,971 people. A fuel truck carries between 5,500 and 9,000 US gallons, or 20,000 to 34,000 liters. That means between 0.43 and 0.26 gallons of fuel/gas per person. Even if you consider the fact that Gaza households are fairly big, and that the local population’s needs are very modest, how much power can you supply with that? No wonder 95 percent of Gaza’s factories are not working. And again, these are the IDF numbers, not mine.

From what I hear, humanitarian organizations claim that 300 trucks of aid are needed daily to provide the minimum needs of the population of Gaza. This means one truck for 5,172 people. Try to imagine keeping 5,172 people alive for whole day on the supply of a single truck (and that includes providing power, shelter and clothing). Even if you assume that everything is distributed equally, and that nothing is lost on the way – which, as we know, is never the case in real life – it’s not an easy task.

Now consider this: according to all sources I know, there haven’t been a single day in which 300 trucks of supply entered Gaza. I’ve looked back on the IDF spokesperson’s tweets, and didn’t find a single day in which even 200 trucks entered Gaza. And there are many days in which Erez crossing is closed, and not a single truck enters the strip.

Even if you think that the Palestinians “had it coming” after electing Hamas, you must understand what’s going on here:  Israel and Egypt have turned Gaza into the largest prison in the world, in which they keep 1.5 million – same as the entire population of Philadelphia – on the verge of starvation.

8 Comments on “Gaza Mathematics”

  1. 1 Didi said at 6:30 am on January 16th, 2010:

    Noam. your principle and calculations are correct but the premise is faulty.

    Most Gazans aren’t on the verge of starvation because they are fed through the tunnels, which also provide much of the commerical goods the territory needs, from period pads to teddy bears.

    Further, because most Gazans are given food through aid agencies, moslty UNRWA and the WTF, I believe this would keep most people fed _ but not adquetely nourished.

    There aren’t any widescale, credible studies done on hunger in Gaza, but from what I can understand, many children suffer anemia and protien deficencies, but they are not starving.

    However, the question is, if Egypt succeeds in blocking off the tunnels, what would Gaza look like? Then we’d have a clearer picture of what Israel’s humanitarian aid really entails.

  2. 2 noam said at 3:09 am on January 17th, 2010:

    Didi – I was wondering myself how to fit the tunnels into this calculation. My problem here is not with the fact that I can’t estimate the amount of supply going in daily through them. I was looking to say something about the way Israelis describe the situation. The IDF doesn’t claim that there is no hunger in Gaza because of the tunnels – it says that enough supply is going in legally – and for the supporters of the siege it’s enough to make them feel at peace with their conscience. This is what I wanted to challenge.

    Anyway, as you said, Israel is doing everything it can to seal the tunnels, and with the help of Egypt, it might get this done soon.

  3. 3 Adam said at 1:02 pm on January 17th, 2010:

    Have you considered the possibility that there is not one IDF tweet for every approved batch of trucks?

  4. 4 noam said at 2:22 pm on January 17th, 2010:

    Adam – Yes, I did. As I explained, all I wanted to do was to understand what theses numbers they publish do mean, as to some they obviously sound very big. And as I said, there wasn’t even one Israeli statement – on twitter or elsewhere – claiming that more than 200 hundred trucks entered the strip on the same day, and we know that even this is not enough.

  5. 5 Michael said at 2:32 pm on January 17th, 2010:

    Heating and industrial fuel is pumped into Gaza. See this article.

  6. 6 Michael said at 2:45 pm on January 17th, 2010:

    I stand corrected, SOME, I am not sure what is the percentage, of the fuel is pumped into Gaza.

  7. 7 Didi said at 5:16 am on January 18th, 2010:

    Noam, I’m sure you are far, far, away in sane-land, being anywhere khutz ha’aretz, but I think your post is extremely valid. I had a surreal moment with an Israeli general trying to prove to a skeptical public that there was no shortages in Gaza. He showed us a picture of the market – where everything came from the tunnels.

  8. 8 Michael LeFavour said at 4:12 pm on January 22nd, 2010:

    Does any of the fault for their situation fall on their own shoulders? Should there be some sort of punishment or penalty for if it does? And what meaningful steps are the Arabs calling themselves Palestinians taking to fix it?

    Because the answers to those questions lead to… If a population group refuses to curb its birth rate knowing it has absolutely no chance of self sufficiency, should the world be compelled to continue to provide the conditions for perpetual entitlement? Can we say anything about how the most generous aid package for a population group in human history is dispersed without being labeled cruel or uncaring? Can we point out that Israel has no resources either, yet without being reduced to begging created solutions for feeding its population? Is it incorrect to say that tough love is the best remedy?

    Almost nothing of a humanitarian purpose is brought in through the tunnels, to portray it as so is being dishonest. Drugs, weapons, pornography, and yes other goods, (candies, CDs, electronics, luxury goods, food, yeah sure, everything) but there is no reason to go through the trouble for much of it because it flows freely through Israel. I would wager my life against a used shirt that if a single Arab child starved to death it would be plastered all over the world’s media as proof of the evil Zionist genocide.