israel Using Electricity to Blackmail Gaza, a gross violation of international law.

Israel Using Electricity to Blackmail Gaza

A Palestinian man holds up a sign that says “We want electricity” at a rally in Jabaliya in northern Gaza against the chronic power shortages imposed on the territory, January 2017.

Mohammed Asad APA images

 

Israel has restored supplies of electricity it sells to the Gaza Strip which it cut in June, exacerbating a humanitarian crisis.

But it is openly blackmailing residents of the besieged territory, which still receives far less electricity than it needs, including to run life-saving medical services and sanitation.

Israel says Gaza won’t get more power without progress on the release of Israelis detained in Gaza – a use of basic humanitarian needs as bargaining chips in gross violation of international law.

On Monday, Israel began supplying 120 megawatts to Gaza, which means that Gaza’s two million residents may now receive up to six hours of electricity per day, followed by an outage of 12 hours.

This came after the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas asked Israel to restore the supply amid a faltering reconciliation deal with rival Hamas, which has ruled in Gaza over the last decade.

Five of The Electronic Intifada’s contributors in different parts of Gaza said they had noticed slight to modest improvements in the situation since Monday.

Rami Almeghari, who lives in central Gaza’s Maghazi refugee camp, said that the connection time had risen to six to eight hours, compared with two to four previously.

Hamza Abu Eltarabesh, who lives in western Gaza City, observed, “The change is very slight. In fact we didn’t feel it.”

Punitive cuts

Any increase marks an improvement only by the dire standards of Gaza.

“Even under ‘ordinary’ conditions, for years the amount of electricity available to Gaza residents has only met about half of actual demand,” according to Gisha, an Israeli human rights group that monitors the siege of Gaza.

Gisha notes that Gaza’s sole power plant relies on fuel purchased from either Israel or Egypt and that additional electricity supplied over lines from Egypt “has been sporadic due to unstable security conditions in the region.”

That “ordinary” situation got considerably worse last year, after Abbas and Israel implemented a series of punitive measures aimed at forcing Hamas to give up power in Gaza.

In mid-April Gaza’s power plant stopped functioning after emergency fuel supplies funded by Turkey and Qatar ran out and a dispute over charges between the PA and Hamas meant that no more fuel was being purchased.

Within weeks, the Red Cross warned that Gaza’s health system was on the brink of “systemic collapse.”

In June, Israel tightened the noose by sharply cutting the electricity it supplies to Gaza at the request of Abbas’ authority from 120 megawatts to just 70.

Health “catastrophe”

By July, Gaza’s electricity supply plunged to an all-time low – just 90 megawatts of the estimated 400-500 it needs daily – and a month later hospitals were warning of “catastrophe.”

Hospitals postponed surgeries because they could not keep the power on long enough to run life support equipment.

Rights groups said that even if the cuts had been requested by the PA, Israel, as the occupying power, could not wash its hands of the situation.

“Israel controls the borders, the airspace, the waters of Gaza, so Israel has an obligation that goes beyond merely responding to a request from Palestinian authorities,” Human Rights Watch’s Omar Shakir stated.

Sixteen human rights organizations wrote to Israel’s attorney general denouncing the cuts as a clear violation of international humanitarian law.

Blackmail

Given the silence and complicity of the so-called international community when Israel implemented the cuts in June, it is no surprise now that Israel – assured of impunity – continues to violate its legal responsibilities.

COGAT – the bureaucratic enforcement arm of Israel’s military occupation, which tries to brand itself as a “humanitarian” body – is attempting to blackmail the civilian population in Gaza over further electricity supplies.

In a statement Monday, COGAT said Israel had agreed to restore the 120 megawatts it was supplying before June, which the PA would have to pay for, but that “humanitarian issues are not one sided.”

COGAT said that Israel would not consider selling an additional 100 megawatts “before humanitarian issues such as the return of the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul and the return of additional Israeli citizens held in Gaza are discussed.”

Israel’s attempt to use electricity as a negotiating chip for Israelis detained in Gaza is a blatant violation of its legal obligations as an occupying power.

The Fourth Geneva Convention requires Israel to use “the fullest extent of the means available to it” to ensure supplies of food and medical services, and to maintain public health and hygiene in the occupied territory. These are services for which an adequate supply of electricity is absolutely essential.

Such blackmail could violate the Fourth Geneva Convention’s prohibition on collective punishment and the prohibition in international law on siege warfare against a civilian population.

The International Committee of the Red Cross already stated in 2010 that Israel’s blockade of Gaza that began a decade ago “constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law” and that the “whole of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility.”

Sheer hypocrisy

The family of Hadar Goldin, an Israeli occupation soldier who went missing during Israel’s 2014 invasion of Gaza, slammed the Israeli government for increasing the electricity supply to Gaza at all. The family remains determined that two million people – half of them children – should be made to suffer until they learn news of their son’s fate.

Following Goldin’s disappearance, the Israeli army went on a three-day killing spree in Gaza that left 225 Palestinians dead and thousands of homes damaged or destroyed.

COGAT even supplied a quote from Leah Goldin, the missing soldier’s mother, stating that “every mother wants to visit her son’s grave and the inability to return Hadar Goldin for his burial is considered a crime in Islam.”

Neither she nor Israeli occupation officials at COGAT noted the irony – not to say the sheer hypocrisy of such a statement – given that Israel systematically withholds the bodies of Palestinians killed by its forces, often in suspected extrajudicial executions, a policy that human rights defenders denounce as a “severe violation of international law.”

Israel has withheld some bodies for decades, burying them in its so-called “cemetery of numbers” where families cannot visit to mourn their loved ones.

In November, Israel seized the bodies of five fighters from the resistance group Islamic Jihad killed in the detonation of a tunnel along the Gaza-Israel boundary.

According to human rights defenders, Israel is illegally using the bodies as bargaining chips.

While Palestinians in Gaza will welcome any easing of the electricity siege, the situation remains dire despite Monday’s increase in supply.

As 2018 started, the World Health Organization said that Gaza’s health system remained “on the edge of collapse.”

 

Advertisements

The U.S. Is Complicit in Slow-Motion Genocide in Palestine

Video: Fighting to show the truth in Gaza

Video: Fighting to show the truth in Gaza

 

“I want to change my perspective, go and see different places in the world,” says Ezz Zanoun, a Palestinian photographer in Gaza.

In 2006, Ezz witnessed his brother Mohammad, a photographer, get hit by an Israeli missile that exploded 10 meters from him.

Mohammad was severely injured, but eventually recovered.

The incident motivated Ezz to pick up the camera and start taking pictures. He photographs Israeli assaults on Gaza, but also daily life, hardship and beauty in the Strip.

“Although we are tied up and besieged, and every day I’m personally affected by the siege,” Ezz says, “we keep fighting to tell people the truth.”

While he is grounded in Gaza, Ezz adds, “My pictures get to travel around the world every day.”

Video by ActiveStills

60 Parliamentarians Urge UK Government Action on Gaza Emergency

60 Parliamentarians Urge UK Government Action on Gaza Emergency

By Medical Aid for Palestinians and Richard Burden,

A group of 60 British MPs and Peers have this week written to Minister Alistair Burt (Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development) to call on the UK Government to take urgent action to address Gaza’s continuing humanitarian emergency.

In August, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) warned of Gaza’s humanitarian emergency, amid a deepening electricity crisis, medical shortages, and increased restrictions on exit for treatment faced by patients.  In 2012, the UN warned that Gaza could be unliveable by 2020. For patients now unable to access the care they need inside or get out for treatment elsewhere, Gaza is already unliveable.

In the letter sent this week, parliamentarians – many of them members of the Britain-Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group – urged the UK Government to provide additional humanitarian funding to Gaza, and to “use all diplomatic means – including multilateral forums such as the UN Human Rights Council and bilateral relations with Israel and the Palestinian Authority – to pursue accountability for all violations of international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory and bring an end to the closure of Gaza.”

You can read the letter in full below and here.


Dear Alistair

Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

As a group of cross-party MPs and Peers, we are writing to express our deep concern regarding the current and worsening humanitarian emergency in Gaza, and to urge the government to take urgent action to address this situation.

As you are aware, Gaza’s already-dire humanitarian situation has been exacerbated by an electricity crisis since April 2017, which has resulted in daily blackouts of up to 20 hours. This has, in turn, seriously affected livelihoods and caused cuts to the provision of healthcare. A chronic lack of infrastructure development to meet the needs of Gaza’s growing population, as well as lack of power for water treatment, has now resulted in two thirds of Gaza’s shoreline being polluted by untreated sewage.

In 2012, the UN warned that Gaza would be ‘unliveable’ by 2020, though the seriousness of the current crisis has caused Save the Children to declare Gaza unliveable now. Likewise, UN Secretary-General António Guterres recently stated that Gaza is experiencing “one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises that [he has] seen in many years working as a humanitarian in the United Nations.”

Nevertheless, UN OCHA’s appeal for US$25 million urgent humanitarian funding appeal to stabilise Gaza, announced this summer, remains largely unmet. US$14 million is still urgently needed for non-fuel related requirements within the water and sanitation, health and food security sectors. As winter approaches, needs are expected to increase as demand for electricity increases and further stretches Gaza’s already-overloaded water, sanitation and health service systems.

Israel continues to be the occupying power in Gaza, as it has been now for 50 years, and as such holds primary responsibility for addressing the humanitarian needs of the population of Gaza. Israel has furthermore imposed a closure on Gaza since 2007 which the International Committee of the Red Cross has termed a “collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law”. People in Gaza cannot wait for the resolution of a decades-long peace process to release them from this violation and the humanitarian crisis they face.

Similarly, though greater political integration between the West Bank and Gaza would be a welcome forward step, a reconciliation between Fatah and the de-facto authorities in Gaza cannot alone address the humanitarian needs of Gaza’s beleaguered residents.

We therefore urge you to use your joint FCO-DfID brief to help bring relief to Gaza in two ways:

  • Provide urgent relief to the people of Gaza, by both supporting UN OCHA’s US$25 million urgent humanitarian funding appeal for Gaza, and ensure that the UK’s aid funding to the occupied Palestinian territory invests in the long-term development of essential infrastructure and services such as water treatment, education, and healthcare; and
  • Use all diplomatic means – including multilateral forums such as the UN Human Rights Council and bilateral relations with Israel and the Palestinian Authority – to pursue accountability for all violations of international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory and bring an end to the closure of Gaza.

Furthermore, though the UK already provides some support to the people of Gaza through DfID-funded projects and initiatives, as parliamentarians we face challenges to accessing Gaza to visit these and provide necessary democratic oversight of this aid spending and assess the situation for ourselves as you have recently done. We also therefore ask that you make representations to the Government of Israel to ask them to facilitate the unhindered entry of British parliamentarians to Gaza, and remove any unnecessary bureaucratic barriers to entry through the Erez crossing. It is vital that British parliamentarians bear witness to the current humanitarian disaster in Gaza and how UK taxpayers’ money is being used in terms of aid.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Burden MP (Chair, Britain-Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group)

Co-signed by:

Grahame Morris MP (Chair, Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East)
Rt Hon Hugo Swire, KCMG, MP (Chairman, Conservative Middle East Council)
Debbie Abrahams MP
Lord Ahmed
Rushanara Ali MP
Hilary Benn MP
Clive Betts MP
Baroness Blackstone
Crispin Blunt MP
Sir Peter Bottomley MP
Ben Bradshaw MP
Tom Brake MP
Alan Brown MP
Karen Buck MP
Liam Byrne MP
Alistair Carmichael MP
Sarah Champion MP
Joanna Cherry MP
Ann Clywd MP
Julie Cooper MP
Alex Cunningham MP
Lord Dubs
Julie Elliott MP
Lilian Greenwood MP
Louise Haigh MP
David Hanson MP
Mark Hendrick MP
Kate Hollern MP
Lord Hylton
Dan Jarvis MP
Lord Kilclooney
Stephen Kinnock MP
Afzal Khan MP
Jeremy Lefroy MP
Baroness Lister of Burtersett
Tony Lloyd MP
Caroline Lucas MP
Gordon Marsden MP
Kerry McCarthy MP
Baroness Meacher
Ian Murray MP
Lisa Nandy MP
Yasmin Qureshi MP
Faisal Rashid MP
The Earl of Sandwich
Tommy Sheppard MP
Baroness Sheehan
Paula Sherriff MP
Andy Slaughter MP
Cat Smith MP
Sir Nicholas Soames MP
Wes Streeting MP
Rt Hon Sir Desmond Swayne MP
Stephen Timms MP
Kelly Tolhurst MP
Stephen Twigg MP
Lord Tyler
Lord Warner
Philippa Whitford MP

israeli Naval Forces Destroy and Drown Palestinian Fishing Boat off Beit Lahia Shore

Source

19 Oct  3:57 PM

PCHR – 18 October 2017: Israeli gunboats fired shells at a Palestinian fishing boat sailing within 2.5 nautical miles.  As a result, the boat was destroyed and drowned in the Sea.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) monitored that Israeli forces have escalated their attacks against Palestinian fishermen despite expanding the allowed fishing area from 6 to 9 nautical miles.  This proves that Israel continues its policy of targeting fishermen and their livelihoods.

According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 10:00, Israeli gunboats stationed off Beit Lahia shore in the northern Gaza Strip, fired shells at a Palestinian fishing boat holding No. 442 and belonging to ‘Ezz Wajih Mohammed Abu Ryalah (36) from al-Mokhabarat area, northwest of Gaza city. As a result, the fishing boat sailing within 2.5 nautical miles off Beit Lahia shore was totally damaged and drowned in the sea.

It should be noted that Abu Ryalah left his boat at approximately 05:30 on the same day after he finished fishing. The boat is designated for night fishing and transferring the fishing equipment. On the boat, there were 2 generators, 4 flashlights, and paddles.

PCHR hereby condemns the ongoing Israeli attacks against the Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip, and:

  1. Calls for immediately ending Israeli violations against fishermen and allowing them to sail and fish freely in the Gaza Sea;
  2. Demanding Ensuring remedy for victims of Israeli violations for the physical and material damage; and
  3. Calls upon the international community, including the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, to intervene to stop all Israeli violations against fishermen and allow them to fish freely in the Gaza Sea.

PCHR  on Facebook  and  Twitter

 

Gaza’s Humanitarian Crisis and the United Nations

Source

By Canadian Boat to Gaza,

Open Letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

Dear Secretary General,

On your recent visit to Gaza, you saw with your own eyes some of the deplorable and inhumane conditions suffered by the Palestinians living in Gaza. You called it “one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises” that you had seen. We hope that, backed by the strength of the United Nations, this experience encourages you to bring maximum pressure on the State of Israel to lift the illegal and inhumane blockade the people of Gaza have been living under for ten years.

We want to remind you that there are many civil society and religious groups around the world who are watching the worsening situation in horror. We are depending on the United Nations, under your leadership, to work at the international level to increase the pressure from all nation states to use every economic and political measure to remind the State of Israel of the standards expected of the civilized nations of the world.

We are also pleased that you noticed specifically that the blockade on Gaza’s southern border with Egypt is upheld by that Arab state in defiance of both international resolutions and a sense of solidarity with a fellow Arab people. Israel is imposing the blockade not only by land, but also by air. They have destroyed Gaza airport, which was financed with international aid (including from Spain). At sea, Israeli forces attack Palestinian fishers from Gaza on a daily basis. They also illegally attack international vessels that challenge the blockade non-violently in the Freedom Flotilla missions that have taken place since 2010.

There are political reasons that make a resolution to the crisis of Gaza imperative at the international level. But even more important are the humanitarian reasons to release an entire people from the appalling situation in which they are currently forced to live.

Your own officers and researchers have concluded that Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020. Many other reports, including those by the UN, OCHA have documented the many threats to the health and even the survival of people in Gaza. The UN has drawn particular attention to the power deficit. Since April 2017 access to electricity is often for four hours or less per day and always unpredictable. Power cuts make sewage treatment impossible leading to pollution of the beaches. Attacks on inshore fishers deprive the people of access to the nutritional value of fish. Your own research has shown up to 57% of Gaza people are ‘food insecure’. Not only is the Gaza economy paralyzed by the blockade, but restrictions on entry of building materials makes it very difficult to reconstruct bombed schools, for example. The blockade also restricts entry of school supplies and other goods that pose no threat to Israel whatsoever. This entire generation of children and young people in Gaza are growing up without the minimum to develop into educated and well-nourished adults.

The situation is so serious that you have announced an emergency grant of $4 million. But the Palestinians of Gaza do not want to have to take emergency payouts; they wants – and need – a cessation of Israeli aggression and real international peace-keeping to prevent further aggression. The so-called “Middle East Quartet” has been a disaster, accomplishing nothing and whitewashing Israeli violation of international law and the breaking of numerous agreements. The State of Israel has also ignored countless UN resolutions aimed at curtailing its activities, as well as continuing the illegal blockade of Gaza and the harassment of its fishing fleets.

In other words, despite its good intentions, the UN has a deplorable record in effectively safeguarding the Palestinians of Gaza and in promoting their security and independence.

We call on you to immediately:

Demand that the State of Israel complies with all UN resolutions, with the threat of sanctions if it does not do so.

Disband the Middle East Quartet and replace it with an effective oversight body.

Resume real peace keeping and effective protection of the civil population of Gaza.

Insist that the State of Israel respects and conforms with all UN resolutions that relate to its relations with Gaza.

Ensure that the world knows that the blockade is illegal and should demand that it be removed immediately.

Sincerely and persistently.
(list of signing organizations, below**)

Freedom Flotilla Coalition Member and Partner Organizations: freedomflotilla.org

Canadian Boat to Gaza  canadaboatgaza.org

Freedom Flotilla Italy www.freedomflotilla.it

MyCARE Malaysia www. mycare.org.my

Kia Ora Gaza [New Zealand / Aotearoa] kiaoragaza.wordpress.com

Palestine Solidarity Alliance [South Africa] www. palestinesa.co.za

Rumbo a Gaza [Spain] www.rumboagaza.org

Ship to Gaza Norway www. shiptogaza.no

Ship to Gaza Sweden shiptog aza.se

International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza en.breakgazasiege.org

US Boat to Gaza womensbo attogaza.us

Miles of Smiles miles-smiles.org

Free Gaza Australia www.facebook.com/ GazaAustralia

Other Organizations

Gaza Action Ireland gazaactionireland.weebly.com

Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign www.ipsc.ie

ShannonWatch (Ireland) www.shannonwatch.org

Plateforme des ONG françaises pour la Palestine plateforme-palestine.org

Council of Canadians / Conseil des Canadiens canadians.org

Bestemødre For Fred (Grandmothers For Peace, Norway) www.bestemodreforfred.com

Veterans for Peace (US) www.veteransforpeace.org

CODEPINK: Women for Peace (US) codepink.org

Voice of Women for Peace (Canada) vowpeace.org

Collectif Judéo Arabe et Citoyen pour la Palestine www.facebook.com/CJACPalestine

Palestina Solidariteit (Belgium) www.palestinasolidariteit.be

Association France Palestine Solidarité www.france-palestine.org

Cultura e libertà (Italy) palestinaculturaliberta.wordpress.com

Alternative refugee Center (Switzerland)

Badil resource center for Palestinian residency and refugee rights (Switzerland) www.badil.org/en

Women for development (Switzerland)

Union Juive Française pour la Paix (France) www.ujfp.org

Deutsch-Palästinensische Gesellschaft dpg-netz.de

Frauen in Schwarz (Vienna, Austria) www.facebook.com/pg/fraueninschwarzwien

Netherlands Palestine Committee www.palestina-komitee.nl

Palestijnse Gemeenschap in Nederland

Nederlands Arabische Stichting (Netherlands)

TIYE International (Netherlands) www.tiye-international.org/wordpress

Diensten en Onderzoek Centrum Palestina (Netherlands) www.docp.nl

Stop Represión Málaga, Voces Alternativas, Kontrapunto (Spain)

Breed Platform Palestina (Haarlem, Netherlands)

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (Gaza, Palestine) pchrgaza.org

Asociación de la Comunidad Hispano-Palestina “Jerusalén”

Asociación Medica Hispano Palestina (Spain)

Asociación Pablo de la Torriente Brau

El movimiento de mujeres palestinas Alkarama www.alkarama.es

RESCOP – Network of Solidarity against the occupation of Palestine (with 49 member organizations in Spain)

Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia (Malaysia) www.ikram.org.my

Viva Palestina Malaysia www.vpm.org.my

BDS Malaysia bdsmalaysia.com

Persatuan Ulama Malaysia pum.org.my

Al-Quds Foundation Malaysia alqudsmalaysia.org

Association of Norwegian NGOs for Palestine palestina.no

Asociación Española para el Derecho Internacional de los Derechos Humanos aedidh.org/es

Parallelo Palestina (Italy) sites.google.com/site/parallel-opalestina

Canadian BDS Coalition bdscoalition.ca

Palestine Solidarity Network (Edmonton, Canada) psnedmonton.ca

People for Peace (London, Canada)

United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel (UNJPPI) www.unjppi.org

Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR), Canada www.usw.ca/act/activism/soar

Boundary Peace Initiative boundarypeace.20m.com

Mid-Islanders for Justice and Peace in the Middle East midislanders.com

Palestine Solidarity Working Group (Sudbury, Canada)

B.C. Southern Interior Peace Coalition (Canada)

Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (Victoria, Canada) caiavictoria.ca

Hawai’i Peace and Justice www.wp.hawaiipeaceandjustice.org

Hawai’i Coalition for Justice in Palestine www.facebook.com/HawaiiCoalition4JusticeInPalestine

Malu ‘Aina Center for Nonviolence Education malu-aina.org

Break the Maritime Blockade of Gaza (BMBG)

EBN – End Blockade Now

Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine www.aurdip.fr

Collectif inter-universitaire pour la coopération avec les universités palestiniennes www.aurdip.fr/_cicup-35_.html

Comité de Vigilance pour une Paix Réelle au Proche-Orient plateforme-palestine.org/Comite-de-Vigilance-pour-une-Paix-Reelle-au-Proche-Orient

Comité La Courneuve-Palestine (France) lacourneuve-palestine.fr

Zambra Málaga www.asociacionzambra.org

Confederación General de Trabajadores: Huelva, Málaga, Osuna (Spain) www.cgtandalucia.org

Christian Peacemaker Teams (Palestine) www.cptpalestine.com

Independent Jewish Voices / Voix juives indépendantes (Canada) ijvcanada.org

Palestinian Forum in Britain PFB

Europal Forum (UK) europalforum.org.uk

BDS Colombia

BDS Slovenia

New Zealand Palestine Solidarity Network (Aotearoa / NZ) www.palestinesolidaritynz.net

Palestine Human Rights Campaign (Aotearoa / NZ) palestine.org.nz

Ignore the spin, the siege of Gaza endangers everyone, israelis included, so end it now

Ignore the spin, the siege of Gaza endangers everyone, Israelis included, so end it now

By Alastair Sloan | MEMO | September 16, 2017

Palestinian children sit on a horse cart in Gaza [file photo]

Save the Children reckons that the Israelis have delivered a major project in record time, with the Gaza Strip described in the NGO’s latest report as “unliveable.” The United Nations made its own prediction in 2012, giving the territory until 2020 before it would be at that inhospitable stage.

As autumn wears on and some three years ahead of the UN deadline, the Israeli government has turned basic essentials such as food, water, hospital access, education and shelter into luxury items in an enclave that the state and its supporters still claim somewhat disingenuously to have “withdrawn” from in 2005.

Of course, Save the Children and the UN aren’t to be trusted; it you pay heed to the pro-Israel lobby you will know this. The lobby has a convenient conspiracy theory that the UN is engaged in “anti-Semitism” rather than reasonable criticism of the Israeli state and its policies. Much of this lobby nonsense comes from mysterious pro-Israel organisations like “UN Watch”, which routinely derides UN predictions and announcements the moment that they are made public.

Another such group is “NGO Monitor”; it has already dismissed the Save the Children report as a “renewed anti-Israel campaign.” Which, of course, it is, and rightly so. This group condemns the respected NGO for daring to publicise the suffering of children, and suggests that Save the Children “should return to a policy of providing aid without adopting the Palestinian political narrative.”

Telling NGOs what they can and cannot do and say is in vogue in Israel, much as it is in autocratic Turkey or Hungary, but the illogical positions of NGO Monitor are still worth exposing. Consider this: “[Save the Children] also called on Israel to blindly ‘lift the Gaza blockade’ without acknowledging the rationale behind it.” NGO Monitor claims that the siege is in place, “to prevent weapon smuggling into Hamas-controlled Gaza.”

We should test this thesis that it is all the fault of Hamas, and the Israeli-led blockade of Gaza is simply the state acting in self-defence.

Fifteen year old Ali suffers from cerebral palsy, and is an example of the kind of problems engulfing a Palestinian youngster which NGO Monitor cannot have missed because his story was included in the press release which accompanied the charity’s report. Ali’s mother Yara told Save the Children:

“My son is dying in front of my eyes. He can’t sleep most nights, and suffers from continuous pain. We don’t have enough power to get his electric wheelchair and mattress fully charged. If his wheelchair doesn’t get charged, he suffers psychologically, as he sees people around him move and walk but he can’t. He feels depressed and often fights with other children. When the wheelchair runs out of battery, Ali becomes totally paralysed. He also needs constant showers as he is wearing diapers, but there is no water. We don’t get water unless there is electricity. If I don’t change his diapers and wash him regularly he will suffer from skin rashes and other problems. We have not had any tap water for two days. I feel suffocated.”

The problem here then, as with so many of the problems outlined in the report, is primarily one of electricity, or the lack thereof. This is why Ali is growing up soaked by his urine and faeces, is unnecessarily paralysed and is suffering psychologically as he grapples with one of the world’s most cruel medical conditions.

In April, Gaza’s sole power plant was forced to shut down after completely exhausting its fuel reserves; the company which runs the plant was unable to obtain fuel due to a shortage of funds. How this makes Israel any safer is unclear, but its government claims that the blockade is all about security. Having 2 million Palestinians living in Gaza in darkness surely doesn’t make Israelis more secure, does it?

Likewise the contamination of Gaza’s water supply. The Palestinian Water Authority and the UN have now warned that the territory’s fresh water aquifer, shared by Israel and Egypt, may be “completely contaminated” by the end of this year. Israel says it won’t let in more aid or spare parts to repair the water treatment plants that it destroyed in its 2008/9 military offensive. Why? Because of Hamas. That, though, doesn’t explain why Israel has repeatedly refused to allow UN Environment Programme inspectors to assess the water situation and try to improve it.

As yet another curious pro-Israel lobby organisation – the American-Israeli Co-operative Enterprise (AICE) – puts it, “There is indeed a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but it is not to be blamed on Israel.” Thus does the lobby acknowledge the pain that is being caused, and yet it denies that its favoured state, Israel, has anything to do with it, despite controlling everything that goes into or comes out of the Gaza Strip. “Israel has consistently sent aid in many forms through the border,” claims AICE, “and the blockade will be lifted once the violent Hamas government is ousted and the people of the Gaza Strip are ready to live in peace with Israel as their neighbour.”

There is no suggestion by the lobby that Israel, which is the relative newcomer in the neighbourhood, might decide to live in peace with the Palestinians. It is, after all, Israel which has repeatedly broken ceasefires, before telling the world that Hamas started firing rockets. It is also a fact that Hamas can be remarkably quiet when given the choice. Every few years, however, the Israelis re-invade Gaza unnecessarily, launching massive military offensives with accompanying death and destruction, and then withdraw, killing, maiming or traumatising a million children in the process.

The reality is that the siege of Gaza is a manifestation of Israeli military weakness. There is no chance that Israel will re-take Gaza from Hamas by force; the resistance movement not only enjoys general popular support amongst Palestinians but, more importantly, is also expert in the kind of guerrilla warfare that the founders of Israel used to such devastating effect themselves not so many years ago. Conventional armies of the kind that Israel deploys never, ever, win against Middle Eastern militias, particularly those with a religious mindset faced with a Western-backed enemy.

The siege tactic is the only option that the Israeli government can resort to. Ten years on, it appears to be working. As making somewhere “unliveable” is essentially a form of ethnic cleansing by what claims to be a democracy, a coterie of propaganda organisations and lots of media-spin groups are required to defend Israel and gloss over that very distasteful fact.

Perhaps these spin doctors should be asking their government why it can’t defend its citizens, who all pay for the Israel Defence Forces. The answer – or their own conclusion – might then be, because the increasingly right-wing governments of Israel which control the military are stubborn and stupid. They alone are endangering the people of Israel every day through their thankless and pointless siege. So ignore the spin, the siege needs to end now, not in 2020; that will be too late for all concerned.

Read also:

Poverty rate hits 80% in Gaza

Oslo: 24 years of Palestinian losses

WHO: Israel hinders 40% of Gaza patients’ access to health care abroad

%d bloggers like this: