Cabinet mulls artificial island for aid transfer to Gaza

As situation in strip becomes increasingly dire, heading towards massive humanitarian crisis, government to examine MK Katz's proposal to construct artificial island near Gaza for import of vital goods, to be inspected by Israeli security; Israel also ready to provide gas, employment, water, if international donors foot the bill.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has directed his cabinet to look into Transit Minister Yisrael Katz's proposal to construct an artificial island across from the Gaza coast to allow aid to be delivered from the island to Gaza itself.

Katz's plan—and Netanyahu's consideration of it—came in the wake of the ever growing humanitarian crisis the strip faces, with chronic shortages of food, clean water, medications and fuel, which prompted senior security officials to call on the government to urgently deliver aid to the enclave.

The artificial island off the Gaza coast
The artificial island off the Gaza coast

Israel believes that Hamas is not interested in conflict at the moment. However, if hundreds of thousands of Gaza residents take to the streets to protest harsh living conditions, Hamas might be inclined to create a conflict with Israel in order to redirect their wrath and its own responsibility for the people's woes at Israel.

"If Hamas senses that it is in existential danger and that the protests are out of control, the only way for them to extricate themselves would be to direct the fire at us," warned a cabinet minister.

For the moment, protests in Gaza have not expanded but there is an increase in infiltrations by Gazans who prefer Israeli prisons where they are at least guaranteed to be fed.

PM Netanyahu (center) asked the government to examine Minister Katz (L)'s plan to construct an artificial island off the Gaza coast (Photo: Amir Salman)
PM Netanyahu (center) asked the government to examine Minister Katz (L)'s plan to construct an artificial island off the Gaza coast (Photo: Amir Salman)

The Gaza unemployment level is hovering just below 50 percent, whereas unemployment among youth is even higher. Most of the available water is polluted, as Gazan officials lack the skills to deal with sewage runoff while contaminated water makes its way into aquifers, the sea, beaches and the streets.

Residents only receive four hours of electricity a day and due to the lack of fuel for generators, two Gaza hospitals were shut downrecently, one of them a children's hospital.

Children in Gaza (Photo: AFP)
Children in Gaza (Photo: AFP)

The aforementioned lack of electricity led to a lack in industrial output, which in turn decreased employment and purchasing power.

In the past, between 700 and 750 trucks delivered goods to the strip each day, but that number dropped to an average of 300-350 a day in January—not because Israel is limiting the amount, but for the simple reason that merchants have less need for merchandise as there are so few buyers.

?In addition, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is not paying salaries to thousands of Gaza government bureaucrats, many of whom belong to the Hamas elite....

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