The delegation visited several important sites as part of a Foreign Ministry initiative to have diplomats become more familiar with important locations in Israel.
Date: 20.11.13 Author: Raanan Loew
On Thursday, November 14, the Israeli Foreign Ministry, in coordination with COGAT, organized a tour of several important locations near the Gaza Strip for Ambassadors and delegates of several African nations, including Kenya, Cameroon, Egypt and Ghana. “This trip is necessary as we want the ambassadors to obtain a trustworthy picture of the situation,as well as the effort that Israel goes through to provide for the needs of civilians in Gaza”, said Captain Shai Massot. “By showing them the way we coordinate trucks, aid, and supplies they receive a first account of how, as well as how much, humanitarian aid is delivered to the Gaza Strip”.
The first stop of the day was the Kerem Shalom crossing located on the border of Egypt, Israel and the Gaza Strip which deals with the transfer of goods between Israel and Gaza. At the crossing, they met with Ami Shaked, the coordinator in charge of the crossing. He explained to the delegation that despite the difficult conditions and situation they often operate under, “we do the best to expedite the things in our hands. It is our job, our politics don’t matter here”. To emphasis the danger that he and his men operate under, he passed around numerous items, which to the casual observer seemed like pieces of trash. Each one, however, turned out to be a piece was leftover of some major attack that took place on the crossing.
Following the meeting with Ami was an extensive tour of the crossing facilities, including one of several loading and unloading areas as well as the advanced product scanner which allows the security forces there to process nearly 100 tons in seven minutes. Ambassador Augostino S.K. Njoroge, who had previously been to the crossing nearly three years ago was impressed with the advancements that had taken place in the interim. “The efficiency of the crossing helps tremendously” he said, “the improvements to the checkpoint that Israel has made are an impressive achievement that are of great benefit to both sides”.
Other parts of the tour including a short briefing of the security situation of the region as well as lunch and then a tour on Kibbutz Kfar Gaza. There, they met with one of the kibbutz members who explained to them what it is like to live in such a dangerous area, as well as how little time they have to reach a shelter every time a rocket or mortar is launched from the Gaza Strip. The day concluded with a tour of the Erez Pedestrian Crossing. It is important to mention that mere hours after the delegation left the area, two rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel, but they caused no damage or injury.
“The ambassadors are the ones who suggest policy adjustments back to the leaders of their states” added aForeign Ministry official who accompanied the tour.” This trip is to provide them with a perspective they won’t get anywhere else”.