The beginning of the pullout of Israeli settlers
from the Gaza Strip presents two contrasting pictures of two very differently
placed people. While the Israelis are looking at comfortable compensation packages,
thousands of Palestinians face the threat of starvation as a result of the Israeli
The average compensation packet for an Israeli settler home is around a quarter
of a million dollars. But to that has been added a bonus payment, two years
free rent at the new location, help to set it up, removal expenses, compensation
for loss of land, and redundancy compensation. For some families, the compensation
package is closer to half a million dollars.
On the other hand, the World Food Program
(WFP) has been busy stocking food to make sure that poor Palestinians in Gaza
do not starve as the settlers move out.
"That is a real danger because every time there is a movement of settlers,
the Israelis block off all access roads and communication," Arnold Vercken
from the WFP told IPS from Jerusalem. "That means Palestinian people cannot
have access to their businesses and their fields and their source of work."
The WFP staff itself may not get past the barriers set up. "And so we have
pre-positioned the food beforehand in warehouses at about 21 locations," Vercken
said. "The poorest people are the most vulnerable here and we are providing
The WFP says the supplies will be needed to sustain tens of thousands of impoverished
Palestinians. About 5,800 tons of food have been stored in the warehouses in
Gaza, the WFP says.
"The food is sufficient to feed the 156,000 Palestinians who benefit from
WFP rations until the end of October," the WFP said in a statement. "In addition,
WFP has already provided all beneficiaries in the densely populated Strip with
a two-month ration for July and August."
"In spite of the logistical difficulties that have increased with the
Israeli disengagement, WFP, working along with NGOs [nongovernmental organizations]
and the Palestinian Authority, has now secured enough food rations for the poorest
Palestinians in Gaza," Vercken said in a statement earlier.
In the al-Mawasi enclave, which has been one of the areas most severely affected
by the Israeli occupation, about 1,340 families have already received sufficient
food for the next 10 weeks, the WFP says.
For the past four years, al-Mawasi has been under virtual siege by the Israelis,
with the movement of its 7,000 inhabitants completely restricted.
About 8,500 Israeli settlers are being moved out of 21 settlements in Gaza
this week. They moved in after Israel captured the territory in the 1967 war.
They will be relocated either within Israel or in the occupied West Bank, where
new settlements are being built to accommodate them.
The WFP will continue to provide food assistance in both Gaza and the West
Bank, Vercken said. "Despite the disengagement it will take some time before
an economic network is created in Gaza," Vercken told IPS. "It will take some
time to mitigate the effect of the situation prevailing over the past years.
The WFP will continue to provide food to the most insecure, both in Gaza and
the West Bank."
The WFP, which has been operating in occupied Palestinian territory for the
past ten years, is launching a new two-year operation next month to provide
nearly half a million Palestinians with food assistance. Much of the crisis
may now shift to the West Bank where the construction of a separation wall has
been aggravating the situation for Palestinians.
The operation will bring 156,000 tons of food to the Gaza Strip and the West
Bank at a cost of $80 million.
Some of those who have pledged donations to this program are the European Union
($9.6 million), the United States ($1 million), Austria ($300,000) and Italy
The WFP is looking for further donations to meet the needs.
(Inter Press Service)