The Prime Minister’s Office swiftly denied a statement by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi on Thursday that fuel would be permitted to enter Gaza for use by hospitals should they run out of it.
Halevi had said in response to a reporter’s question during an outdoor press briefing: “Fuel will be delivered with supervision to the hospitals. We will do everything so that it does not [assist] Hamas’s combat goals.
“We have not brought fuel [into Gaza] up to now. We check the situation in the Strip every day. For more than a week, they’re telling us that fuel in the hospitals will run out, and it hasn’t,” he said.
Israel has made it clear that while it will permit food, water and medicine to enter Gaza, fuel will not be allowed. On Oct. 22, it quickly denied reports that six trucks with fuel had entered the Strip.
However, Israel is facing pressure from the United States to add fuel to the mix.
U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said during a press conference on Monday that “fuel is essential to the delivery of humanitarian assistance, the desalinization of water and the provision of medical care, and we want to see it provided for those purposes as soon as possible.” He added that progress had been made on including fuel in the aid shipments.
However, both the United States and Israel have said that if Hamas seizes the aid, it will cease.
On Wednesday, Israel released an intercepted call between Hamas commanders in the Gaza Strip purporting to show that the terrorist group is already stealing existing fuel from hospitals.
Israel also showed last week that Hamas is hoarding fuel. It released aerial images of Hamas storage tanks in Gaza, saying they contained at least half a million liters of fuel, which could be given to hospitals if the terrorist group so desired. Israeli spokesmen said questions regarding shortages should therefore be addressed to Hamas, and not Jerusalem.
Arab and Western officials last week said Israeli claims that Hamas is stockpiling food, fuel and other supplies have merit.
Hamas has been building miles of tunnels under the Gaza Strip and filling them with supplies needed for a long fight, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to compromise intelligence sources.
Hamas has hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel, ammunition, explosives, food, water and medicine, they said.