Today is the Monday Movie. This is a somber video offering, preceded by a somber article from Patrick Cockburn. I credit David Hamilton for ensuring this issue has stayed in the forefront of our ruminations. The truly horrible aspect of ‘Palestine’ is that conditions have not changed very much in 55 years. rdj
September 11, 2006
The Deepening Crisis in Gaza
Palestinians Forced to Scavenge Rubbish Dumps for Food
By PATRICK COCKBURN
The Israeli military and economic siege of Gaza has led to a collapse in Palestinian living conditions and many people only survive by looking for scraps of food in rubbish dumps, say international aid agencies.
“The pressure and tactics have not resulted in a desire for compromise,” Karen Abuzayd, the head of the UN Relief and Works Agency is said to have warned. “But rather they have created mass despair, anger and a sense of hopelessness and abandonment.”
Israel closed the entry and exit points into the Gaza Strip, home to 1.5 million Palestinians, on June 25 and has conducted frequent raids and bombings that have killed 262 people and wounded 1,200. The crisis in Gaza has been largely ignored by the rest of the world, which has been absorbed by the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon.
“Women in Gaza tell me they are eating only one meal a day, bread with tomatoes or cheap vegetables,” said Kirstie Campbell of the UN’s World Food Programme, which is feeding 235,000 people. She added that in June, since when the crisis has worsened, some 70 per cent of people in Gaza could not meet their family’s food needs. “People are raiding garbage dumps,” she said.
Not only do Palestinians in Gaza get little to eat but what food they have is eaten cold because of the lack of electricity and money to pay for fuel. The Gaza power plant was destroyed by an Israeli air strike in June. In one month alone 4 per cent of Gaza’s agricultural land was destroyed by Israeli bulldozers.
The total closure imposed by Israel, supplemented by deadly raids, has led to the collapse of the Gazan economy. The 35,000 fishermen cannot fish because Israeli gunboats will fire on them if they go more than a few hundred yards from the shore. At the same time the international boycott of the Hamas government means that there is no foreign aid to pay Palestinian government employees. The government used to have a monthly budget of $180-200m, half of which went to pay 165,000 public sector workers. But it now has only $25m a month.
Aid agencies are frustrated by their inability to persuade the world that the humanitarian crisis is far worse in Gaza than it is in Lebanon. The WFP says: “In contrast to Lebanon, where humanitarian food aid needs have been essentially met, the growing number of poor in Gaza are living on the bare minimum.”
If you want to continue with Parts 2 and 3, here they are:
For information, here is what the person who posted this film on YouTube wrote:
I can’t claim to have answers. I know posting this film suggests that I have a strongly pro-Palestinian bias, but that is not entirely the case.
I simply feel that those who have reached moral conclusions regarding the status of things in that part of the world are being premature.
You seldom hear the phrase “The Palestinian Question” any more, the phrase that, until about a decade ago, was most often used to refer to this homeless nation.
In my opinion, there has been such polarization that neither side feels there is any question any longer.
It seems that eradication of either Israel or the Palestinians is the answer that most have accepted in their hearts, whether they speak it or not.
I don’t find either answer acceptable or civilized. As both sides feed upon each others’ intransigence and distrust to feed their own stores of the same, it’s not useful for those who still believe there are questions worth answering to get caught up in that.
The film’s repeated stress on children, the difficulties they endured as refugees, and the hope for a better life, expressed through the filmmaker’s point of view, is in sharp contrast to what has actually occurred. Those children, sixty years later, are mostly dead.
These are not the people that today “act in ways that would destroy or supplant their benefactors.” Today, we deal with their children, and with their grandchildren.
This seems to me not a matter of a child who, growing up, forgot that we gave him powdered milk, flour, beans and a blanket at a time when those things meant a great deal.
The younger generations have a wider view, of good intentions, hopeful promises, and, 60 years later, still-harsh realities.
They are witnesses to their parents’, and their grandparents’, life and death in occupied territories that were for previous generations a part of their own nation. They have been led in prayers for ‘statehood’ their entire lives, and no doubt been led to believe that ‘statehood’ would have an almost-magical ability to solve all their problems. Meanwhile, statehood has been a constantly dimming specter.
Israel’s security — and its huge payday from the US — is dependent on a constant state of war. Many US war industries also have a profitable investment in continued hostilities. In this context, I believe a plausible argument could be made that conservative elements in both the US and Israel are motivated to avoid a resolution to these issues.
There is much on the Internet that argues for this; here’s just one news story from a couple of years ago that makes the case rather well:
I am not saying this is the case, but if one ‘follows the money,’ I think you’ll find strong indications of a money motive in prolonging the problems of the middle east.”