Gaza Articles

Tracing Gaza’s chaos to 1948
The roots of Gaza’s misery today can be traced back to the late Ottoman period, decades before the war of 1948 transformed the Gaza Strip from a minor port and agricultural hinterland into one of the most overcrowded places on earth.  It was then, in the middle of the first great age of globalisation, that Gaza’s fate was sealed, although it would take half a century for it to unfold.
http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/7205AFFD-7B62-4F40-BCDE-94242112BA82.htm

Breaching the other border: on non-violent resistance and mass mobilizing in Gaza 24/02/08

“I don’t think one can necessarily place the burden of what kind of resistance to choose on a population that is being subject to the military force of the world’s fourth largest army (meaning, strategy and effectiveness aside, it comes across as almost self-rightouss to dictate what and how an occupied people should resist).

This is not to say that non-violent resistance has been wholly absent from the Palestinian struggle. The first Intafada is a prime example, but so too was the second Intifada-despite the fact that it was notably much more militarized.

An excerpt from an October 2007 article by Ben White in the electronic Intifada notes that

“It is not just contentment (for the few) or sheer fatigue (for the many) that makes mass mobilization a challenge. Palestinians also fear that two critical elements for the success of nonviolent popular struggle are missing in their case: international coverage and limited repression on the part of the oppressor. As previously mentioned, “popular struggle” has always been a part of Palestinian resistance to occupation and colonization — but receives only a fraction of the press coverage afforded to violent resistance.”…”

Gaza power cuts leave people cold physically, metaphorically 17/01/08

(IRIN) – The Israeli government decided earlier this month to permit the Gaza Strip to import industrial diesel — in similar quantities to those permitted prior to the fuel import restrictions imposed in October 2007 — but the impoverished enclave continues to suffer from power cuts.

The cuts are affecting daily life, particularly now as the region has been experiencing an uncommonly cold winter.

…For even poorer people, the problem is worse: “We had electricity for only two hours during the day yesterday,” said Um Sultan, from Beach (Shati) refugee camp. “We can’t afford to buy gas heaters, or even gas,” the widowed mother of five said. “We try using blankets to keep warm, but we don’t have enough blankets.”

Israel’s decision to cut supplies began after its cabinet in September 2007 declared the Gaza Strip a “hostile entity” due to the Islamic group Hamas’s take over of the enclave and Palestinian militants’ rocket fire, which targets southern Israel and border crossings.

Power plant operating on knife-edge

Officials in Gaza say that although Israel allowed in one extra turbine for the enclave’s power plant in December — to increase its capacity from 65 megawatts (MW) to 85, similar to the levels of production prior to an Israeli air strike on the plant in the summer of 2006 — it is not allowing the Strip to import enough fuel to run the turbine, which is idle.

Furthermore, between October 2007 and January 2008, Gaza’s power plant was forced to dip into its reserves to keep up basic levels of production. On 5 January, officials said the reserves had hit their red line and were essentially depleted. The amounts currently being allowed in are not sufficient to replenish the reserves, which are vital in the case of an emergency, but also if Israel were to again lower import levels.

Water affected

The lack of electricity also means people can go hours or even a day without running water, as power is needed to pump water into homes, and concerns have been raised about the pumping out of waste water, should the power stop.

Naser Pediatric Hospital, Gaza City, besieged 13/01/08

…As happened on my last 2 visits to hospitals here I was near tears going thru the hospital with my guide, Ibrahim, especially with the children. Looking into the eyes of a girl about 2 yrs old, on a ventilator, her mouth chapped, a bulge in her chest from her blood disease, her helpless condition, all that specificity embedded in the larger context of siege-induced health desperation, nearly rendered me incapable of photographing. Later, looking thru the files on my camera, I had the same reaction. Shit! Jesus! God damn it! My usual combination of outrage and sorrow catapulted to the surface.

Gaza Outages Expand After Fuel Cutbacks: As Winter Sets In, Electricity Goes Off For Civilians 06/01/08

Palestinians in Gaza will be forced to live without electricity eight hours a day, beginning Sunday, because Israel has sharply reduced fuel supplies to the territory’s only electric plant, the head of Gaza’s energy authority said. Israel said the fuel cutback was meant to send a “stern message” to Gaza militants to stop rocket attacks on southern Israel. The power outages come just days ahead of President Bush’s visit to the region to promote nascent talks between Israel and the moderate Palestinian government in the West Bank.Israeli Prime Minster Ehud Olmert said the military campaign against Gaza militants has grown harsher in recent days. On Sunday, five Palestinians were killed, including at least two civilians. …On Sunday, Kanan Obeid, chairman of Gaza’s Hamas-run energy authority, said Gaza now has only 35 percent of the power its 1.5 million residents need. Israel supplies all of Gaza’s fuel and 60 percent of the impoverished territory’s electricity.…Even before the latest cutback, which came as winter was setting in, blackouts in Gaza were common because Israeli military strikes have knocked out electrical transformers.“The Israeli policy is not against Hamas, it is against us, the ordinary people,” said Hassan Akram, owner of a grocery in Gaza City. “We are the only losers. Now it’s cold and there’s no electricity.”
Tearful Eid at Rafah Crossing 22/12/07

ARISH, Egypt —Mahmoud Abu Ali wished that `Eid Al-Adha would not come this year, being one of hundreds of Palestinians stranded on the Egyptian side of Rafah far away from his wife and four kids, which twisted the knife further in his wound.”It is breaking my heart that I can’t be with them in these days,” Abu Ali told IslamOnline.net, his voice breaking.”As I’m stuck in here, with no job or money, there will be no new`Eid clothes or toys for the kids,” added Abu Ali, who also missed `Eid Al-Fitr with his family in October.

Abu-Ali is one of nearly 1,000 Palestinians who spend the four-day `Eid Al-Adha, which starts Wednesday, December 19, stranded at the Egyptian side of Rafah crossing.

The Rafah crossing, the only gate for Gazans to the outside world and into their homeland, has been shut by Israel and Egypt since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in June, leaving hundreds of Palestinians stuck on the Egyptian side.
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Gazans say this Eid is the worst ever 20/12/07

A 500-meter-long street in the heart of Gaza City is empty of cars and vehicles, but full of men, women and children. Omar al-Mokhtar Street is considered the largest commercial area in Gaza where people from all over the coastal region have always come to shop, especially during the holiday season.

In recent days, Gaza, like other Islamic communities around the world, prepared to celebrate Eid al-Adha, a major holiday marking the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj. Normally a time of joy, this year’s Eid is different from past years because Gaza suffers from the tight Israeli closures on all travel and commercial crossings….

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Politicising Gaza’s Misery 19/12/07

Intense debate over Gaza is subsiding as the status quo is delineated — predictably — by those with the bigger guns. But to what extent can human suffering be politicised, turned into an intellectual polemic that fails to affect the simplest change in people’s lives?

Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert were hurriedly rushed to Annapolis for a badly needed photo-op. Exalted by the self-proclaimed champion of democracy, President Bush, both leaders are on a new quest for peace. The US-sponsored sideshow has achieved its aim. Dates such as January 2006 among others are now completely cast aside; new dates, new rhetoric and new promises are replacing the old ones; all eyes are now on Abbas and Olmert, Ramallah and Tel Aviv, with calls for future conferences and painful compromises. And Gaza is becoming a forgotten or irrelevant footnote.

The Strip is under a harsh and unprecedented siege, with people dying as a result of the lack of medical aid. Israel has cut diesel supplies to 60,000 litres, when 350,000 litres are required daily. How can an already underdeveloped economy run on such a meagre amount of energy, let alone hospitals and schools? Electricity is also being drastically cut, as per the recommendation of Israel’s High Court, and unemployment is at the highest level it has ever been (past the 75 per cent mark). One and a half million inhabitants are literary trapped in a 365-square kilometre prison without any breathing room whatsoever and little food, little energy, and are told, more or less, that they deserve their fate.

If the media mentions Gaza at all, it does so in a politicised context. For example: three militants killed by Israeli missiles; Israeli army says militants were on their way to fire rockets into Israel; Hamas leader remains defiant, and so on. Much of the coverage is now focussed only on augmenting the sins of Hamas, whereby every single conduct or misconduct is blown out of proportion. The bottom line is that whatever suffering Gazans endure, it is caused by the Hamas militant menace and their “forces of darkness”….

Israel’s camp is relentless in justifying Israel’s racism and the brutality inflicted on Palestinians, using the same tired arguments, such as Israel’s security and right to exist, and accusing their detractors of anti-Semitism at every turn. But what argument could there be for those who are troubled by human suffering and yet losing sight of Gaza’s misery? I cannot think of any justification for apathy before a dying child, whether black, white, Arab, Jewish or any other.

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Building hope from rubble 18/12/07

Of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents more than 60 percent are under 18. The effects of malnutrition are seen not only in the kids’ hunger, but also in their brain function. They are unable to focus in school, and have become violent. Dr. El-Farra’s organization, the Middle East Children’s Alliance (Gaza), is the focal point of a network of organizations trying to help Gaza’s children. They give food parcels to the families, which are aimed at the nutritional needs of the kids, and try to teach the parents how to feed them better.

“The lack [of food] here is all political, not from famine or drought,” says Dr. El-Farra. “The kids are not hopeful. There is no safety or recreation. It’s bad for everyone, but it is most profound when the kids are complaining and have no hope.”

Humanitarian groups in Gaza are also trying to feed another hunger: keeping the Palestinian culture alive through teaching traditional dancing, music, and art. The Afaq Jadeeda (New Horizons) Center in Nuseirat, established in 1996, provides a creative outlet for more than 50 children daily, and holds summer and winter camps. The center also has a library, a stage for plays, a football team and a growing computer lab, and is in the process of funding English classes for kids ages 14-18. $50,000 would give them what they need for a fully functioning center, but they do what they can with what they have, as they work on bringing in more donations and money.

“The average family in Gaza has seven people,” says Afaq Jadeeda vice president and schoolteacher Talal Abu Shawish. “In the refugee camps, families are trying to build up their own areas. That’s why it is important to have the cultural centers: to bring the kids off the streets into something more positive…”

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The grim reality in Gaza 10/12/07

“Israel’s decision is a death penalty: our reserve of fuel is almost zero and it may very likely run out by the end of today,” said Khaled Radi, Ministry of Health spokesman for the dismissed Hamas government.

Radi spoke in reference to the 30 November Israeli Supreme Court decision to allow further fuel cutbacks, severe reductions which are crippling Gaza’s residents in all aspects of life. Prior to that ruling, as early as October Israel decided to begin limiting fuel, with Gaza soon after enduring serious cuts of over 50% of fuel needs, a dire statistic confirmed by the UN body OCHA.

The fuel cuts in turn impede water access: with diesel-run pumps unable to function, leaving over 77,000 without fresh drinking water, according to Gaza’s water utility. Oxfam International has warned that soon 225,000 Gazans could suffer from inadequate water supplies, raising concerns for public health.

Ambulances and clinics suffer too, a fact reiterated by Khaled Radi, who related how fuel shortages have already brought some ambulances to a standstill: “This has affected the mobility of ambulances which are especially vital during on-going Israeli air strikes such as that of this morning….”

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SEE GAZA AND WEEP 10/12/07

…We also wanted to show solidarity with the whole courageous population, Muslim and Christian, and apologise for the British government’s indifference to Israel’s military onslaught, the spiteful economic sanctions and the west’s meddling in Palestine’s democratic affairs.

Gaza is just 365 sq km – 45 km long, up to 12 km wide and entirely sealed from the outside world by an Israeli fence guarded by watchtowers, snipers and tanks. Israel controls Gaza’s airspace, coastal waters and airwaves. A vast prison with air-strikes, beach shelling, troops, tanks, armoured bulldozers, uncaring of civilian casualties.

Whilst much has been blasted into rubble or skeletal remains, this was once an attractive place and many fine buildings survive. So does the defiant community, though wearied by years of humiliation and occupation. Gaza could easily blossom into a coastal paradise; a prosperous, independent trading state. But Israel’s hatred of Gaza and its people is terrifying. The economy is strangulated and for 1.5 million souls, life is hell.

A communiqué received from the Ministry of Health in Gaza reveals the stark reality:

*Cancer patients: Of 450 patients 35% are children and 25% women. They are forbidden to leave Gaza for medical treatment or surgery. For many, there is no medication because cancer drugs cannot cross the border.
*Renal Failure patients: 400 should undergo dialysis three times a week, but machine break-downs have cut this to twice a week, with serious consequences for patients.
*Cardiac patients:400-450 patients suffer from severe shortage of drugs.
*Stock levels Zero stock of 85 items of essential medical drugs.
*Zero stock of 12 items of essential psychiatric drugs.
*2 weeks’ stock of anaesthetics for surgery, after which the theatres will close down.
*Zero stock of X-ray bags and sterilization bags.
*Severe shortage of cloth and dressings, barely enough body bags and hospital bed covers.
*Zero stocks of patients’ food in all hospitals.
*2 weeks’ stock of hospital cleaning fluids.
*Diesel and gas stocks for under 15 days.

“The total number of people who died as a result of the border closure since June has risen to 44. Prevention of patients from traveling and prevention of entry of food, milk formula and fuel is an organized crime committed by the Israeli occupation to exhaust and destroy the health sector, as part of the Israeli policy to kill and humiliate our people,” conclude the Health Ministry.

Physicians for Human Rights, have attempted to bring seriously ill residents out of Gaza for proper hospital treatment, but even requests on behalf of advanced cancer cases are invariably refused. So they die in agony. 20 year-old Nail Al Kurdi, succumbed only a week ago, still waiting for permission to cross. For five months PHR submitted request after request to let him through, and even petitioned the High Court of Justice, but each time he was refuse “for security reasons”. Two days later an 8 year-old boy also died waiting for medical treatment in Israel. I’m told he had the necessary permit but was repeatedly turned back at the border.

It is estimated that a thousand patients – advanced cases of kidney disease and cancer and those badly injured by Israeli air-strikes – need immediate transfers. In the meantime (UK) Channel 4 News reports, Israel blackmails chronically sick patients. If they agree to inform on relatives and friends they can cross the border for treatment… if not they can “stay in Gaza and die”.

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Gaza’s donkeys in demand as fuel crisis mounts 08/12/07

…Pointing out that vehicle spare parts have dried up since the closure, Mr Dabour added: “A donkey doesn’t need tyres, it doesn’t need spare parts, and it doesn’t need gasoline.”

The reduction in fuel supplies from Israel into Gaza – declared a “hostile entity” by the Israeli cabinet in September – in response to continued Qassam rocket fire, has certainly quickened demand for donkeys as well as hitting water and sewerage provision. And the crisis this week, which led to the closure of petrol stations for several days, had led to a lower-than-usual 300 or so donkeys on sale in Shajaia yesterday, according to a cart-maker, Ashraf Kishko. Potential sellers were waiting to see how quickly fuel would return to the pumps.

A spokesman for the Israeli military’s civil administration insisted yesterday that fuel supplies being moved represented only a five per cent reduction in “heavy diesel” and 12 per cent in petrol. But those figures are heavily challenged by aid agencies who say that, despite an Israeli cabinet decision in October to reduce fuel by only 15 per cent, the diesel levels have since dropped from the usual 300-320,000 litres a day to 190,000, petrol from 80-100,000 to 47,000, and industrial fuel, including for the solitary Gaza power station, from 280,000 to 250,000.

Agencies say the fuel cuts have affected solid-waste treatment and already left 220,000 Gaza residents without running water for more than one hour a day…
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08/12/07

The people of Gaza have never suffered so much as now

If you live in the ghetto which is Gaza, do not get ill. Is your wife approaching term with her pregnancy? Pray to Allah, because there might be no nitrous oxide for her pain relief, or for an anaesthetic if she needs an emergency Caesarian delivery.

Gaza – Ma’an Press Agency – A delegation of doctors from Germany, Switzerland and Spain visited the Gaza Strip on Friday, warning the world of a looming humanitarian disaster there if the Israeli siege continues.

“It is unjust to punish the people as a whole. Israel is detaining all the Palestinians in a big prison ‘Ghetto’ similar to what happened with the Jews in World War Two,” said Dr Walter Conti, a Swiss physician who led the delegation.

Conti called on Israel to withdraw from the territories occupied in 1967 and implement relevant United Nations resolutions.

Israel has closed the Gaza Strip’s border crossings, and restricted essential supplies of food, fuel, electricity, building supplies and medicine. Last week the Palestinian Health ministry warned that Gazan hospitals are running out of fuel used to run emergency generators.

Dr Abdur-Rahman Jandali, also a Swiss citizen, described the situation in Gaza Strip as life-endangering.

A nurse named Barbel Costabelly expressed her astonishment at the Gazan people’s “tolerance and steadfastness” in appealing to Israel to open the border crossings and grant Palestinians their full rights.

The delegation met with the Popular Committee for Countering the Siege in Gaza Strip. Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the committee and also a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, briefed the European delegation on the health situation in Gaza Strip.
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No fuel, no gasoline, no benzene 07/12/07

…The current crisis began in October when Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered large cuts of fuel supplies to the coastal region in what he said was an attempt to prevent Palestinian resistance factions from firing homemade shells onto nearby Israeli towns. The fuel cuts shortly followed the Israeli cabinet declaring Gaza an “enemy entity” on 19 September 2007.

Al-Khuzendar said, “Israel used to supply the Gaza Strip with almost one-third of its daily fuel needs, estimated at 160,000 liters. But on Sunday, the Israeli authorities further reduced the amount to 90,000.”

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Only 41 percent of Gaza’s food import needs being met 07/12/07

Food imports into the Gaza Strip are only enough to meet 41 percent of demand, the World Food Program (WFP) has said, though critical UN humanitarian food supplies are being allowed in.

…Israeli travel and trade restrictions have led to a decline in purchasing power in Gaza.

Farmers who used to export can only earn a fraction of their profits on the local market, which is now over-saturated, according to FAO. For example, last year strawberries were sold at $6 per kilogram, while now the price has dropped to 40 cents on the local market. Potatoes dropped from about $2.5 per kilo on the export market to only about 12 cents locally, according to aid workers and residents.

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Israel delays treatment of two Gaza toddlers 07/12/07

…”In 2000, our first son, Muhammad, was born. Ten days after he was born, we noticed that his skin was yellow, so we took him to al-Shifa’a Hospital, in Gaza, for an examination. The doctors said that we should wait and that the yellow skin color would go away on its own, but that didn’t happen. We took him back for more tests and the doctors said we had to take him to Ramallah for a CT, because there was no place in Gaza to do it. I requested a permit to go to Ramallah for Muhammad and me, but the Israelis did not grant it. In the end, the doctors at al-Shifa’a operated on his gall bladder, because they thought that was where the problem was. Two weeks later, Muhammad died. We then learned that he had had cystic fibrosis and that the doctors in Gaza had been unable to diagnose it. He died because he did not receive the right treatment. Muhammad’s illness and death were the worst things that ever happened to me. In 2005, we had another son and we gave him the same name, Muhammad. He too was born with cystic fibrosis…

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Gaza’s medical sector suffers Israeli sanctions, restrictions 06/12/07

Health officials in the Gaza Strip say they are concerned about hundreds of patients unable to travel to Israel or other countries for vital treatment, and that local hospitals lack essential medical equipment, drugs and fuel.

Only about one in seven patients who used to travel through the Rafah terminal to Egypt for treatment are now able to access medical care in Israel, according to World Health Organization (WHO) statistics.

Since June, when Hamas took over in Gaza, 17 percent of all patients who applied for permits to enter Israel were denied entry, mostly on “security grounds.” In October the figure rose to 23 percent.

At least 13 people who completed the permit application process died in the past two months waiting for treatment, according to health organizations. Another 15 or so died while still applying, according to the Gaza ministry of health.

One was Na’el al Kurdi, a cancer patient who died in Gaza in November at the age of 21. Before June he was treated in Egypt, but after that he was unable to access care in Israel, due to “security reasons.”

“Our minimum demand is that Israel ensures access for all patients who need treatment outside Gaza,” said Miri Weingarten of PHR.

Supplies of 91 out of 416 essential drugs have run out, as have about a third of essential medical supplies, according to the Gaza ministry of health and the WHO.

…The WHO reported, seven out of Gaza’s 17 incubators are not functioning properly.

“We have a shortage of 60-70 percent in the diesel for power generators, and the electricity goes off so much these days,” he added. Officials are concerned about refrigeration and intensive care units, should the power be shut off in the coming days.

According to UN OCHA, the amount of diesel and benzene that reached Gaza in November was less than half the amount needed.

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A Letter from Gaza

Dear all,

I’m sorry for not being in touch and for not writing sooner, but words are failing me, and I cannot articulate what Gaza feels like right now. A hopeless prison with a dark gloomy cloud over it. It’s been raining for three days now and its starting to get cold. Unfortunately with rainstorms, come power outages, so that means there is no water or electric heaters. Gas heaters are not operatable either because of the high gas price, that’s when gas is even available. But also because most people are saving their gas for cooking food, rather than using it for heaters, especially with a possible invasion coming in two weeks and the possible cut off of gas. I feel for people without access to heat. I also feel for people like my aunt whose house was demolished and is living in a half built house with no windows that UNRWA stopped building because they ran out of cement and other building materials. It’s the beginning of the winter. It’s only going to get colder.

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Israel’s Fuel and Power Cuts Violate Laws of War 29/10/07

“Because Israel remains an occupying power, in light of its continuing restrictions on Gaza, Israel must not take measures that harm the civilian population – yet that is precisely what cutting fuel or electricity for even short periods will do.”
–Sarah Leah Whitson, director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division

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B’tselem: Act of Vengeance: Israel’s Bombing of the Gaza Power Plant and its Effects (2006)

Ahmad Isma’il ‘Awad Shabat, 52, lives in Beit Hanun, a town in the Gaza Strip. He suffers from kidney deficiency and requires dialysis treatment. Because of problems with his arteries, he had to have artificial blood vessels implanted in his right arm to enable the dialysis. During a routine treatment at a-Shifa Hospital in July 2006, there was a power stoppage for seven minutes. A blood clot formed, and the artificial blood vessels clogged. No facilities are available in Gaza to perform the surgery needed to implant new artificial blood vessels, and since 25 June it has been impossible for residents to go abroad, so the physicians connected the dialysis machine to veins in Shabat’s left armpit.

Shabat’s troubles are neither an unavoidable consequence of his kidney disorder nor the result of the quality of health-care in the Gaza Strip. Nor are they the result of an unfortunate accident or a natural disaster. They derive directly from one cold, calculated decision, made by Israel’s prime minister, defense minister, and IDF chief of staff following the abduction of Cpl. Gilad Shalit near Kerem Shalom Crossing on 25 June 2006.

The decision was to attack the only electricity power plant in the Gaza Strip, situated near the Nuseirat refugee camp. The Israeli air force bombed the plant in the early-morning hours of 28 June. The target of the attack was clear: six missiles were fired at the plant’s six transformers. Two missed, and within minutes, two more missiles destroyed the remaining transformers. The oil in the transformers continued to burn for about one month.

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As Israel Tightens its Squeeze on Gaza, Where is the Outrage?

1/11/2007

As Israel intensifies its blockade of the Gaza Strip by cutting fuel supplies to one and a half million people, the European Union has exposed its true colours, and wilful ignorance of the facts on the ground…

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Israel’s real intention behind sanctions on Gaza Strip

26/10/2007

There is an enormous gap between the reasons Israel is giving for the decision to impose significant sanctions against Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip, and the real intentions behind them. Defense Minister Ehud Barak authorized Thursday a plan for disrupting electricity supply to the Gaza Strip, as well as significantly shrinking fuel shipments. This is supposed to reduce the number of Qassam rocket attacks against Sderot and the other border communities. In practice, defense officials believe that the Palestinian militants will intensify their attacks in response to the sanctions.

As such, the real aim of this effort is twofold: to attempt a new form of “escalation” as a response to aggression from Gaza, before Israel embarks on a major military operation there; and to prepare the ground for a more clear-cut isolation of the Gaza Strip – limiting to an absolute minimum Israel’s obligation toward the Palestinians there. Advertisement

Several weeks ago, Barak said Israel “is getting closer” to a major operation in the strip.

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The 41st kilometer 16/10/2007

…Since 1991, Israel has been using the partial or total imprisonment of the Gazans in their cage, for longer or shorter periods, as a political strategy: Sometimes it is depicted as punishment, sometimes as a deterrent action and always as a preface to a political plan. Until not long ago, it seemed as though the terms of imprisonment could not be any worse. The past four months have proven that there is always “worse.”

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EU calls on Israel to reconsider sanctions against Gaza Strip

20/09/2007

The European Union joined on Thursday a United Nations call for Israel to reconsider its move to declare the Gaza Strip “hostile territory” and appealed for it not to cut key services to the Hamas-run territory.

Our first reaction is one of deep preoccupation … We think the Gaza people should not be deprived of basic necessities,” EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said.

Pakistan’s ambassador Masood Khan, speaking on behalf of the OIC:
The Palestinians face military incursions, extra-judicial and targeted assassinations, restrictions on movement and demolition of houses and infrastructure,” Khan said.

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Welcome to Planet Gaza 22/09/07

It is one of the most scandalous instances of collective punishment anywhere in the world in recent times. And what is the response of the high-minded “international community”? It’s the standard “three monkeys” – willfully deaf, dumb and blind.

This Thursday, the Israeli cabinet’s decision to declare the 8-kilometer-wide, 23km-long, arid Gaza Strip a “hostile territory” has started to be translated by facts on the ground. The Israel Defense Forces have begun “gradually” to cut the supply of fuel and electricity to the 1.5 million population, one of the highest densities on Earth, 50% of them already living under the poverty line, 50% of them under-15s, 33% of them refugees.

Gaza uses about 200 megawatts of electricity; 120 come from Israel; 65 are produced in Gaza; and only 17 come from Egypt. Israel says supply to generators at Gaza’s hospitals will not be affected.

There’s more to come: a trade ban, no freedom of movement, no visits to prisoners in Israeli jails, an overall hardcore financial squeeze, and sooner rather than later, another military onslaught. As the Israeli daily Ha’aretz so nicely put it, this is just a “plan to limit services to civilians”.

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A Dire Situation Gets Worse Every Day
The Quality of Mercy in Gaza
September 25, 2007

But for many, the choice of being killed or living as slaves is not a choice at all. No wonder some of them are fighting back, even if their crude attempts at resistance are met with formidable and unmatchable retaliation. Only last November, the Israeli military attacked Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip with a vengeance that left 82 Palestinian civilians dead and 260 injured. [5] This was the culmination of five months of killing by Israeli soldiers which saw the number of dead soar to 382 Palestinians with 1,229 injured. In the same period, Palestinian rocket fire had killed one Israeli and injured 26 others.

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Lift the siege on Hamas Sep 24, 2007

While largely unnoticed in American discourse on the topic, much has been said and written to debunk the sanctions regime imposed on Hamas government administrations since its resounding victory in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections of January 2006. These calls and reports show with compelling logic that the sanctions regime is wrong and misguided and, equally important, that it is a reaction to the excessively intense pressure that the US administration has exercised over other nations to induce them to boycott and besiege a government democratically elected by the people and to punish the Palestinians for their democratic choice.

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The War on Gaza’s Children September 22, 2007

An entire generation of Palestinians in Gaza is growing up stunted: physically and nutritionally stunted because they are not getting enough to eat; emotionally stunted because of the pressures of living in a virtual prison and facing the constant threat of destruction and displacement; intellectually and academically stunted because they cannot concentrate — or, even if they can, because they are trying to study and learn in circumstances that no child should have to endure.

…As a result of Israel’s blockade on most imports and exports and other policies designed to punish the populace, about 70% of Gaza’s workforce is now unemployed or without pay, according to the United Nations, and about 80% of its residents live in grinding poverty. About 1.2 million of them are now dependent for their day-to-day survival on food handouts from U.N. or international agencies, without which, as the World Food Program’s Kirstie Campbell put it, “they are liable to starve.”

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Israel’s Collective Punishment Of Gaza 22 September, 2007

All attempts to dress up a tightening of the siege on Gaza in legal-sounding terms and to apply humanitarian caveats are lies. Gaza’s people are already on the brink of starvation, with more than 1.1 million totally reliant on food from the United Nations. Israel supplies almost two thirds of its electricity. Cutting power for even a matter of days will halt water supplies to the apartment blocks in which most people live. Refrigerators will not work, and it will be impossible to store food.

There are no substantial fuel reserves in Gaza.

Israel, as the occupying power, is responsible for the well-being of Gaza’s civilian population. Declaring Gaza a “hostile entity” alters nothing regarding international law. The term has no legal meaning.

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When the doors of Gaza are closed: Palestinian Patients are suffering
19 September 2007

The experience I passed in my way taking my 10 years old son, Ahmad, to a hospital in Jerusalem, illustrates a micro-picture of how Palestinian patients are suffering in order to seek medical care that does not exist in Gaza Strip…

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A bankrupt Ramadan in Gaza Sep 18, 2007

Gaza, which Israel only views through the lens of security rather than that of human dignity, is one of the most densely populated areas in the world with 1.4 million living in 360 square kilometers. With no natural resources and all industries paralyzed by Israel’s closures, which has also prevented laborers from accessing jobs in Israel, the population has become increasingly dependant on UN and other foreign agencies’ handouts

Caged in Gaza John Pilger 27 May 2007

…These attacks, Channel 4 News reported, were “targeting key militants of Hamas” and the “Hamas infrastructure.” The BBC described a “clash” between the same militants and Israeli F-16 aircraft.

…The Channel 4 reporter referred to an “endless war,” suggesting equivalence. There is no war. There is resistance among the poorest, most vulnerable people on Earth to an enduring, illegal occupation imposed by the world’s fourth largest military power, whose weapons of mass destruction range from cluster bombs to thermonuclear devices, bankrolled by the superpower. In the past six years alone, wrote the historian Ilan Pappe, “Israeli forces have killed more than 4,000 Palestinians, half of them children.”

More than 40 per cent of the population of Gaza are children under the age of 15. Reporting on a four-year field study in occupied Palestine for the British Medical Journal, Dr Derek Summerfield wrote: “Two-thirds of the 621 children killed at checkpoints, in the street, on the way to school, in their homes, died from small arms fire, directed in over half of cases to the head, neck and chest – the sniper’s wound.”

…The selective use of language by broadcasters is crucial in maintaining this confusion and ignorance. Words such as “terrorism,” “murder” and “savage, cold-blooded killing” describe the deaths of Israelis, almost never Palestinians.

IOF Attacks:

Sarah, Mahmoud and Yehya
Sep 5, 2007
Yehya was walking his goats close to their house on that Wednesday afternoon when he lost sight of his herd. He spotted them sniffing around abandoned rocket launchers, so he went to retrieve them. Yehya followed the goats, trailed by Mahmoud and Sarah. Unseen soldiers in Israeli tanks identified them as “militants” and shot at them. The boys immediately died of their shrapnel wounds. Sarah passed away later that evening, alone in the hospital. Her family did not make it in time to see her because her body was taken to the hospital Beit Lahiya.

The Israeli army stated it had “identified and fired at several rocket launchers aimed at Israel.” According to the Abu Ghazal family, rockets had not been fired from that area for the past nine months and the Israeli army knew this.

The next day, on the BBC the Israeli military stated that the killing of Yehya, Mahmoud and Sarah was an accident: “at the very last second, it was apparent that they were children, but it was impossible to stop the explosion.”

Israeli Politicians on Gaza:

This is how the moderates look Sept. 9, 2007

Haim Ramon has made a big comeback. As if renewing the Hebrew language, he has coined the term “infrastructural oxygen” – Israel should strike a blow at Gaza’s infrastructural oxygen. Faithful to his suggestions in the Second Lebanon War (“It is permissible to destroy everything”), he is now the progenitor of the doctrine advocating cutting off the electricity, fuel and water supply to Gaza. … We should recall for a moment the last electric blackout we experienced. In June 2006, the Israel Electric Corporation implemented electric outages lasting several hours – just several hours. All hell was raised: Telephone exchanges collapsed as people stuck in elevators called for help; a resident of Ofakim who was attached to an oxygen machine was hospitalized in serious condition…

Faced with Sderot and Gaza Sept. 6, 2007

…Stopping the flow of water and electricity is a painful and punishing step, but ostensibly not a fatal one. Its goal is to cause the Palestinian public to pressure Hamas and Islamic Jihad to stop the fire. This idea is complete nonsense. Factually speaking, cutting off water and electricity can kill. Moreover, there is no proof that making the Palestinian public suffer would make Hamas take pity on it and embark on a cease-fire. On the contrary: Hamas consistently sabotages the flow of essential goods through Gaza’s border terminals. What is being presented as a way to avoid war is counterproductive, immoral and illegal.

Borders:

Israel bars students from leaving Gaza at last minute Sep 20, 2007

…There are currently several thousand Palestinian students who have been accepted to universities abroad, but cannot leave the strip through Israel to attend.

POSITIVE:

Observations on Gaza: Mohammed Omer, September 27, 2007

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