COGAT Head to U.S. Envoy: "Instead of Building Tunnels in Gaza, Hamas Could Have Build Hospitals"

Today, (30.8.17) the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav (Poly) Mordechai, toured the area surrounding the Gaza Strip with the United States Middle East envoy, Mr. Jason Greenblatt, in order to take a closer look at the security issues that Israel faces against the terror organization Hamas, who control the Gaza Strip.

​The Coordinator held a briefing regarding the security situation and existing threats in the Gaza Strip. The Major General also discussed the civil steps being promoted in order to assist the hardship of the residents, as a part of Israel’s civil policy.

 

During the tour, Maj. Gen. Mordechai and Mr. Greenblatt visited Kerem Shalom Crossing, which serves as a central axis to transfer food, trade and equipment to and from the Gaza Strip. They were escorted by the head of the Crossings Authority in the Ministry of Defence, Brig. Gen. (res) Kamel Abu Rokon. In addition, the U.S. Envoy visited a Hamas terror tunnel in the area. Mr. Greenblatt visited the Erez Crossing as well, the crossing where hundreds of Gaza’s residents enter and exit Israel every day for a variety of purposes. At the Erez Crossing, Mr. Greenblatt met and spoke with Palestinian residents from the Gaza Strip.

Maj. Gen. Mordechai emphasized to Mr. Greenblatt that “one kilometer of a tunnel, such as this, costs an estimated 200,000 USD, that means that hospitals could be build in the Gaza Strip instead of tunnels, but Hamas’ priorities are first the military branches interests and only then, as a low priority, supporting the civil population in the Gaza Strip. Hamas acts cynically and takes advantage of civil and humanitarian assistance to increase their power, and the Palestinian population pays the price of Hamas’ conduct. The task of returning the missing IDF soldiers has yet to be completed and we will not enable significant development in the Strip without a solution.”

The Coordinator noted, as he did with the UN Secretary General earlier this week, that “Hamas uses these tunnels to capture IDF soldiers and Israeli residents that live in the Gaza Strip area, we are trying to do our best to support the residents there (in Gaza), but we need to remember that we still have two soldiers in Gaza as well as additional Israeli civilians.”

 

The United States Middle East envoy, Mr. Jason Greenblatt said “Today I visited the Gaza border region and learned a great deal about the difficult challenges facing the IDF, the Israelis and the Palestinians living in Gaza as a result of Hamas' mismanagement of humanitarian aid and its commitment to terrorist violence. It is clear that the Palestinian Authority needs to resume it's role in the administration of Gaza as Hamas has substantially harmed the people of Gaza and has failed to meet their most basic needs. I again call upon Hamas to return the IDF soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oren Shaul, who were taken by Hamas. And I call on Hamas to release the Israeli civilians they are holding - Avera Mangisto, Hisham Shaaban and Gumaa Ibrahim Abu Anima.”

Additionally, the U.S. Middle East envoy visited the Iron Dome and Kibbutz Nahal Oz, where he met the head of the Sha'ar Hanegev regional council, Mr. Alon Shuster, and its residents from whom Mr. Greenblatt heard firsthand accounts of life in the Gaza surrounding area, in light of the constantly sensitive security situation