"There's a lot of money out there, available to be used for help, but what needs to happen is to get the crossings open," says Mr. Ging. "There are thousands of tons of aid waiting to get in, boxes and boxes of it. They're in Egypt, they're in Jordan, and they're also in Israel. We have been sitting on $97 million budgeted to us for the past year-and-a-half, but we can't get the supplies in so we don't spend it."
Since the cease-fire a week ago Sunday, Israel has been gradually admitting more supplies, enabling the transfer of humanitarian goods and some aid workers through three of the five active crossings it controls: Kerem Shalom, Nahal Oz, and Erez. Since the beginning of the war, Israel says it has allowed 70,035 tons of humanitarian supplies into Gaza.
Unilateral cease-fires were holding by a thread after one Israeli soldier was killed and three wounded in a roadside bomb Tuesday; a Palestinian was also killed and one Gaza militant wounded following the bombing. Israel had said it would allow in food, medicine, and other essentials, but after the attack, Israel temporarily sealed its crossings.
Since the cease-fires were declared, Israel has ruled out fully opening crossings or letting in heavier materials – such as cement – for reconstruction.
"At the moment, the priority is given for the urgent stuff: food, medical supplies, and other basics," says Maj. Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman. "But we are not willing to rebuild Hamas's bunkers and underground tunnels, and we're not willing to help give them materials to transform into rockets to fire at us."
Israel is waiting for a reconstruction plan from the international community, he says, which is expected to be presented in a few days. And it will insist it be followed. "Each piece of metal and piping will reach a specific destination and not just be sold on the open market," Major Lerner adds. "We have intentions to help them rebuild, but not to supply things for the Hamas terrorist infrastructure."