Flotilla aid will enter Gaza

If the lives of some people improve after receiving the flotilla's cargo, the Mavi Marmara deaths will not have been in

    About 10,000 tonnes of aid from the freedom flotilla for Gaza has been caught in the middle of a propaganda campaign between Israel and Hamas, the movement which controls Gaza.

    Initially, Israel said all of the aid could go in, except for construction material and pre-fabricated homes.

    So Israel sent five truckloads of wheelchairs from the flotilla to the Keram Abu Salem crossing, on the border with Gaza.

    We waited on the edge of a road lined with dozens of trucks for the goods to enter Gaza. It was a very hot day, that seemed to stretch as long as the road in front of us.

    In the end, the wheelchairs did not enter Gaza because Hamas said they would not accept the flotilla aid until Israel agreed to send all of it in, including cement.

    It was 'all or nothing' for Hamas.

    Later, we visited a family in northern Gaza which had been selected by the Turkish aid organisation, IHH, to receive a new house from the flotilla aid.

    It was my first trip to this part of Gaza, an area which was heavily bombed during the war with Israel.

    Here, there are few signs that any rebuilding has taken place. Families are living in tin shacks and mud brick homes, right next to the rubble of their old houses.

    This is where we met the Dardona family. The father, Adley, showed me around his old home - what's left of it - a pile of steel and cement.

    He is now living with his four sons and wife in a shed, stitched together from different sheets of tin.

    Adley says he was excited to hear he had been selected to receive a new house, and then deeply disappointed to find out Israel would not allow the construction material in.

    Despite this, he agreed with Hamas that people in Gaza should wait until Israel agrees to send in all of the aid.

    So while the wheelchairs, clothes, shoes, dentist chairs and sewing machines (just to mention some of the goods) sat in the sun at an Israeli army base near Tel Aviv, the Israelis, Turks and United Nations debated what to do with it.

    The deal

    In the end they came up with a deal this week.

    All the flotilla aid will be sent to Gaza and be co-ordinated by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) - to make sure the right people receive it.

    So perhaps the Dardona family will be able to move from their tin shack into something more substantial.

    Or maybe UNRWA will prioritise other areas for the aid.

    At least if the lives of some people in Gaza improve after receiving the aid, the deaths of nine people onboard the Mavi Mamara will not have been in vain after all.


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