Abnormality Besieges Palestinians
By Juan Cole / November 12, 2008
The UN warns that it is running out of food to distribute in Gaza, putting the civilian population there at severe risk, as a direct result of an Israeli food blockade.
A food blockade? That is a war crime! Why aren’t the people ordering the malnourishment of a civilian population under foreign military occupation being arrested and taken to the Hague for trial?
I mean, people in the US are routinely arrested for animal abuse because they kept their pets malnourished. Wouldn’t it be a crime to do that to Palestinian children?
Even less dire situations are still harming the Palestinians. Jeremy Bowen of the BBC reports on the abnormal situation of the Palestinians in Hebron under Israeli occupation:
‘ When I was there last week the school’s windows were catching the morning sun as Mohammed, eight, teetered in the entrance of his home, holding on to the doorframe. He has cerebral palsy, so his big brother Amjad, 12, parks his wheelchair, puts on the brake and lifts him in. A Palestinian woman and child walk behind an Israeli soldier in Hebron Israeli troops protect the Jewish settlers, and impose restrictions on Palestinians. He’s been doing it since Mohammed started school two years ago. They wave goodbye to their mother and set off.
But they don’t turn down the alley to get to school, which should be only two minutes away, even for a boy in a wheelchair.
About the time that Mohammed was born, the Israeli army blocked the alley with a high concrete barrier.
Last week Mrs Taha told the BBC that the Israelis had ignored requests to open it to make it easier for him to get to school. The barrier was put there by the army, to make life easier and safer for the Jewish settlers who sometimes use the street on the other side. ‘
The walls and checkpoints that enclose the Palestinians often make their lives hell, but pale in significance before their continued statelessness. A stateless person ultimately has no rights, and can be robbed, relocated, and even killed with no recourse.
The statelessness of over 3 million Palestinians is among the great ongoing crimes of the 21st century, allowing them to be continually besieged, as civilians, deprived of basic services, and to some extent even of enough food (15 percent of Gazan children are malnourished as a direct result of Israeli actions).
In essence, they are slaves to the Israelis.
So why can the BBC do a story like this, which frankly says, “A small community of Israelis lives in the centre of Hebron, in defiance of international laws that forbid an occupying power to settle its own people on the territory it has captured. A strong force of Israeli combat troops protects the settlers, and has imposed years of restrictions on the Palestinians who live near them.”
Why is such a passage never present in any major publication or broadcast originating in the United States?
Here is something else that is not exactly front page news in the News Island of the United States:
A blockade-busting aid boat landed in Gaza, with several European lawmakers aboard, and met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniya. So Haniya vowed eternal jihad, right? Nope:
‘ Following intensive negotiations with Hamas, the de facto leadership of Gaza, a group of European parliamentarians has been told by the organization that it will accept a Palestinian state within the internationally recognized 1967 borders as well as offer Israel a long-term ceasefire.
The delegation of 11 from Britain, Ireland, Switzerland and Italy, managed to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza on Saturday morning after their boat, the Dignity, sailed from Cyprus to Gaza, shadowed part of the way by an Israeli naval vessel.
The group had originally tried to enter Gaza from Israel’s Erez border crossing but was refused permission by the Israeli authorities to cross. Another attempt to enter the territory from Egypt’s Rafah terminal was denied by the Egyptian authorities.
This was the third successful boat trip made by the Dignity into Palestinian coastal waters despite warnings by Israel that action would be taken to stop the vessel. On board was a ton of medical aid and desperately needed medical equipment.
Despite the threats of naval intervention, in the end Israel backed down after realizing it would have gained more bad publicity if it had detained and harassed a boatload of international politicians carrying humanitarian aid.
The aim of the visit was to protest Israel’s economic embargo and closure of Gaza’s borders, assess humanitarian conditions on the ground, and to hold talks with Ismail Haniya, the leader of Hamas.
Haniya was questioned about his organization’s previous offer of a 20-year hudna or truce with Israel in exchange for the Israeli government recognizing the national rights of Palestinians.
British parliamentarian Clare Short, who served in the cabinet of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, asked the Hamas leadership to repeat the offer, which he did.
Haniya was also questioned by delegation leader Baron Nazir Ahmed, a Pakistani-born member of the House of Lords, about Hamas’ relationship with Iran.
“Our ties with Iran are like those with other Muslim states. We are prepared to accept a Palestinian state within the internationally recognized borders of 1967. Our conflict is not with the Jews, our problem is with the occupation,” Haniya said.’
Note that Gaza does not have an airport because the Israelis won’t allow one, and that the Israelis control Gaza’s borders and port, keeping out anything and anyone they like, including food and fuel.
I’d say that is tantamount to slavery.
Source / Informed Comment
I do wish this story was featured in the mainstream media; a special documentary put on PBS.
Is there some way to contact the author and make this suggestion?
Excellent information; tragic, and as always what is important is never reported to our citizens.
This article from mainstream media – at least they’ve taken a ‘stance’ (note the last few paragraphs). This was published today, 11/14/08 in Reuters.
By Abed Shana
GAZA (Reuters) – Hamas Islamists fired their longest-range rockets at a southern Israel city on Friday after an Israeli air force attack on their Gaza stronghold, in the 11th day of skirmishes threatening a five-month-old truce.
The armed wing of the Islamist group said it fired five Grad rockets at an Israeli city, the longest-range weapon it has used against the Jewish state. Israel said they hit Ashkelon, north of Gaza on the Mediterranean coast, with no casualties.
Israel and Hamas blamed each other for the flare-up since November 4, in which 12 Hamas militants have been killed by Israeli forces 4 and scores of rockets fired into Israel. But both shied away from declaring an end to the Egyptian-brokered truce.
“We will continue to forcefully defend Israeli soldiers and citizens, to thwart attempts to stage attacks when we discover them,” said Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak. “At the same time, if the other side wants to continue the calm we will definitely give it positive consideration.”
Hamas took a similar stand.
“Up to this moment we are committed to the ceasefire,” said Mahmoud al-Zahar, a Hamas leader. “Self-defense and resistance” would continue. “We are waiting for the Israelis. If they are committed really (to a truce) we have to address that frankly.”
The 1960s-era Soviet-made Grad rocket has a range of 25 km (15 miles). Two of them struck Ashkelon.
Earlier, Palestinian medics said two Hamas fighters were wounded in an Israeli air force strike, which a military spokesman said was in response to an earlier rocket attack.
Hamas said it fired 8 shorter-range Kassam rockets in response, aimed at the city of Sderot.
Two Kassams hit, causing damage to buildings, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. One Israeli was treated for shrapnel wounds, and a number of people suffered shock.
The clashes halted before sundown on Friday, as the Muslim day of prayer ended and the Jewish sabbath began. Israel’s caretaker prime minister, Ehud Olmert, was due to consult defense chiefs about the “escalation,” his spokesman said.
Israel has closed border crossings with Gaza, halting food and fuel supplies to the blockaded enclave, between Israel and Egypt on the Mediterranean coast. Hamas Islamists who control the territory do not recognize Israel’s right to exist.
An Israeli official said they would remain shut for now.
“People are going to start getting hungry,” said U.N. spokesman Christopher Gunness. The U.N. is out of food to distribute locally to 750,000 needy Palestinians, he said.
Short of fuel, Gaza shot down its sole power plant, and rationed electricity it gets from Israel and Egypt. Some Gaza bakeries posted notices on Friday limiting the purchase of bread, although no major shortages were reported.
The EU urged Israel to let aid supplies through.
“I am profoundly concerned about the consequences for the Gazan population of the complete closure of all Gaza crossings for deliveries of fuel and basic humanitarian assistance,” said External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.
“I call on Israel to re-open the crossings,” she said.
The clashes began on November 4. when Israeli forces killed six Hamas gunmen in a raid it said was launched to destroy a secret infiltration tunnel, and a strike at militants firing mortars.
Israeli troops killed four gunmen in a raid on Wednesday, and Hamas responded with more rocket and mortar attacks.
Hamas is in conflict with the Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas which holds sway in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and is negotiating with Israel on peace terms.
The rift between them widened in 2007 as Hamas took control of Gaza. Egypt brokered the Israel-Hamas truce, but Palestinian unity talks it is mediating faltered earlier this month.
(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi and Allyn Fisher-Ilan; additional reporting by Mark John in Brussels; Writing by Douglas Hamilton; Editing by Matthew Jones)