‘It’s a Slow Death’: The World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis

Shuaib Almosawa, Ben Hubbard, Troy Griggs

After two and a half years of war, little is functioning in Yemen.

Cholera in Yemen


Repeated bombings crippled bridges, hospitals and factories. Many doctors and civil servants have gone unpaid for more than a year. Malnutrition and poor sanitation have made the Middle Eastern country vulnerable to diseases that most of the world has confined to the history books.

In just three months, cholera has killed nearly 2,000 people and infected more than a half million, one of the world’s largest outbreaks in the past 50 years.

“It’s a slow death,” said Yakoub al-Jayefi, a Yemeni soldier who has not collected a salary in eight months, and whose 6-year-old daughter, Shaima, was being treated for malnutrition at a clinic in the Yemeni capital, Sana.

Since the family’s savings ran out, they had lived mostly off milk and yogurt from neighbors. But that was not enough to keep his daughter healthy, and her skin went pale as she grew thin.

Like more than half of Yemenis, the family did not have immediate access to a working medical center, so Mr. Jayefi borrowed money from friends and relatives to take his daughter to the capital.

“We’re just waiting for doom or for a breakthrough from heaven,” he said.
How did a country in a region with such great wealth fall so far and so fast into crisis?

A Collapsed State

Many coalition airstrikes have killed and wounded civilians, including strikes on Wednesday around the capital. The bombings have also heavily damaged Yemen’s infrastructure, including a crucial seaport and important bridges as well as hospitals, sewage facilities and civilian factories.

 

Yemen


Services that Yemenis have depended on are gone, and the destruction has undermined the country’s already weak economy. It has also made it harder for humanitarian organizations to bring in and distribute aid.

The Saudi-led coalition has also kept Sana’s international airport closed to civilian air traffic for more than a year, meaning that merchants cannot fly goods in, and sick and wounded Yemenis cannot fly abroad for treatment. Many of them have died.

Neither of Yemen’s two competing administrations has paid regular salaries to many civil servants in over a year, impoverishing their families as there is little other work to be found. Among those affected are professionals whose work is essential to dealing with the crisis, like doctors, nurses and sewage system technicians, leading to the near collapse of their sectors.

The Devastation of Cholera

Damage from the war has turned Yemen into a fertile environment for cholera, a bacterial infection spread by water contaminated with feces. As garbage has piled up and sewage systems have failed, more Yemenis are relying on easily polluted wells for drinking water. Heavy rains since April accelerated the wells’ contamination.

 

Cholera in Yemen


In developed countries, cholera is not life-threatening and can be easily treated, with antibiotics if severe. But in Yemen, rampant malnutrition has made many people, particularly children, especially vulnerable to the disease.

“With the malnutrition we have among children, if they get diarrhea, they are not going to get better,” said Meritxell Relano, the United Nations Children’s Fund representative in Yemen.

Outside a cholera clinic in Sana, Muhammad Nasir was waiting for news about his 6-month-old son, Waleed, who had the disease. A poor agricultural laborer, Mr. Nasir had borrowed money to take his son to the hospital but did not have enough to return home even if the baby recovered. “My situation is bad,” he said.

Five tents had been erected in the backyard of the cholera ward to cope with the sudden increase in patients. All day, families brought sick relatives. Most were elderly, or children carried on their parents’ backs.

If infection numbers continue to rise, researchers fear that the cases could ultimately rival the largest outbreak, in Haiti, which infected at least 750,000 people after a devastating earthquake in 2010.

Aid organizations say they cannot replace the services that the government is supposed to provide. That means there is little chance for significant improvements unless the war ends.

 

Yemen


“We are almost in the third year of the war and nothing is getting better,” said Ms. Relano of UNICEF. “There are limits to what we can do in such a collapsed state.”

The United Nations has called the situation the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with more than 10 million people who require immediate assistance. And the situation could become even worse.

Peter Salama, the executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, warned that as the state fails, “the manifestation of that now is cholera, but there could be in the future other epidemics that Yemen could be at the center of.”

Source: The New York Times, Edited by website team

24-08-2017 | 13:16

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The Longest Military Campaign inside Saudi Arabia Goes Largely Unnoticed By the World

For months, everything on the streets of Saudi Arabia’s northeastern town of Awamiyah has been indiscriminately and ruthlessly shot at – including women and children. Their only crime: demanding reforms from the monarchy in Riyadh.

Awamia

Their punishment is swift and brutal. They are violently huddled out of their homes, cleansed, erased, like they were never there to begin with. And as their blood is spilled, their heritage is eviscerated, their history trampled upon by shells and bulldozers.

In the town’s 400-year-old al-Musawara neighborhood, the wind is left howling through emptiness after entire blocks were flattened. But the regime in Riyadh tells the world there is no need for alarm – all of this is nothing more than a demolition project and the elimination of hideouts for ‘terrorists’ and ‘drug dealers’.

After all, the population of Awamiyah was given ample warning. As the siege intensified in late July, local residents reported that they were told to either ‘leave or die’.

Most chose the former. But even leaving did not guarantee anyone’s safety.

Three-year-old Sajaad Mohamed Abu Abdallah was in his family’s car when an armored vehicle randomly opened fire on a crowd of civilians on June 12. A bullet that entered the car through the left rear door, hit the toddler in the right hand, then travelled through his waist and exited his body. After suffering in the Dammam Maternity and Children’s Hospital for nearly two months, he finally succumbed to his wounds on August 8, becoming only one of dozens of victims.

Saudi Arabia’s Shiite majority Eastern Province – where Awamiyah is located – is no stranger to the loss of innocent lives. The region has witnessed a surge in anti-regime protests since 2011, which the ruling monarchy attempted to crush through the jailing and executions of dissidents, including the late Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

One of the Saudi dissidents and the head of the Gulf Institute For Human Rights, Dr. Ali Al-Ahmad, pointed out that the latest “attack on Awamiyah is the largest and longest military campaign inside the country since the establishment of Saudi Arabia in 1932.”

A former lecturer at the University of Bahrain, Colin Cavell, believes that the explanation for the recent spike in violence is simple.

“Simply put [Riyadh wants] to suppress the population and to intimidate the people within Awamiyah,” Cavell explained. “To try to let them know that there will be repercussions if they demand democracy, if they demand freedom of speech, if they demand freedom of association, if they demand freedom of religion.”

“The Saudi government does not tolerate any opposition to its dictatorial rule,” Cavell added.

And why should it? Riyadh enjoys the full support of its western partners, who are more often than not, complicit in the shooting.

Arms sales & international human rights law

Aside from the graphic pictures of Sajaad’s final days in hospital, activists have also posted countless images and online videos showing the transformation of Awamiyah from a tranquil town into a “war zone”.

Even leading western newspapers like the Independent reported on the unprecedented destruction after satellite imagery emerged, showing the contrast between Awamiyah in February and July.

But for much of the international community, this is proof of nothing. After all, Awamiyah is not Aleppo where images of death and destruction shared by Al Qaeda “activists” were more than enough to produce outrage and condemnation from just about every western official who could get a hold of a microphone.

Asked about the carnage in Awamiyah, the Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General would only say that the world body was “not in a position to confirm … [the media reports] independently.”

When pressed by the reporter, Stephane Dujarric repeated the same old spiel about how everything that Riyadh does “should be in compliance with international human rights law”.

Of course, nothing that Riyadh does is ever in compliance with international human rights law, thanks in no small part to the political cover and military assistance that it receives from Washington and London.

“The United States or Canada or the UK; all of these countries have provided training, weaponry and assistance to the Saudi forces, to oppress their people,” Ali Al-Ahmad said. “In fact they tried to support the monarchy while maintaining the appearance of civility and democracy.”

The western contribution to the military operation in Awamiyah has not gone unnoticed either.

Armored vehicles like the one used to shoot three-year-old Sajaad may be draped with Saudi flags but the Gurkha RPVs are made in Canada’s Ontario.

The vehicles sold to Saudi Arabia by Canada were at the forefront of the deadly siege on Awamiyah. Countless online videos showed the Gurkha RPV in action.

The revelations threw the spotlight on Ottawa’s recent decision to sign off on a USD 13 billion arms deal with the kingdom, making Saudi Arabia Canada’s second biggest arms buyer.

Similarly, both the US and the UK have sold a record amount of arms to Saudi Arabia in recent months.

In May, US president Donald Trump signed his now infamous USD 110 billion package, which would eventually reach USD 350 billion over the next decade. The deal features everything from integrated air defense systems, Black Hawk helicopters and precision-guided munitions.

Meanwhile, the UK sold Riyadh nearly USD 4 billion worth of bombs and cluster munitions, which are extensively used against civilian areas in Yemen.

And as is the case with the atrocities in that country, western officials will continue to wait for ‘independent confirmation’ before launching futile ‘reviews’ and voicing their condemnation of “all parties to the conflict”.

Source: Al-Ahed 

12-08-2017 | 08:07

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Saudi Crackdown: Riyadh Court Sentences Shia Cleric to 13 Years in Prison

Local Editor

Amid the continuous crackdown against its Shia minority, the Saudi kingdom sentenced top Shia cleric Sheikh Hussein al-Radhi to 13 years in prison.

 

Saudi Crackdown: Riyadh Court Sentences Shia Cleric to 13 Years in Prison


Sheikh al-Radhi has been arrested on the hands of Saudi regime forces on March 21, 2016, from the Rmaile village in Ahsaa in Saudi Qatif eastern province.

The Saudi authorities banned Sheikh al-Radhi from leading prayers, which pushed him to raise his voice against the regime oppression.

Before the arrest, Saudi authorities banned Sheikh al-Radhi from leading prayers, due to his stances against oppressive policies of the Al Saud regime.

Earlier in February of 2016, the Saudi authorities shut down Rasoul al-Azam Mosque in al-Ahsaa, after preventing Sheikh Radhi from performing Friday prayers there.

The move came after Sheikh al-Radhi slammed the Saudi authorities for their crackdown on opposition activists. Before the closure of the mosque, Sheikh Radhi was summoned for questioning following his critical statements.

Sheikh al-Radhi has openly slammed the Saudi regime over the execution of prominent Islamic scholar Ayatollah Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, the war on Yemen as well as the Takfiri ideology which is widespread in the Saudi Kingdom.

Sheikh Nimr was a vocal supporter of the mass pro-democracy protests against Riyadh, which erupted in Eastern Province in 2011.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

09-08-2017 | 12:06

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Who is afraid of Gilad Atzmon?

June 12, 2017  /  Gilad Atzmon

Adam Garrie is one of the most sophisticated scholarly minds around. We discussed censorship, identity politics, social cohesion, Left tyranny,  the crisis of the post-modern west. We tried to figure out what being in time  is all about. If you want to see me challenged, here is your opportunity…

https://youtu.be/mmL-f020mlY

Unicef Fears Yemen Cholera Outbreak Could Hit 300,000 in Coming Weeks

Cholera in Yemen

June 3, 2017

Cholera cases in Yemen could quadruple in the next month to 300,000, the regional director of Unicef said Friday, calling the spread of the disease in the war-ravaged country “incredibly dire.”

Speaking by phone after visiting Yemen, the agency’s regional director, Geert Cappelaere, said he had never seen a cholera outbreak of that size in the country, which already is contending with the risk of a famine and a collapse of the health care system because of the war.

Half the cholera cases in Yemen belong to children, Mr. Cappelaere said, and parents have little recourse because many hospitals and clinics are closed or lack supplies.

Mr. Cappelaere, who was named Unicef’s director for the Middle East and North Africa last year, worked for the agency in Yemen from 2009 to 2012. This was his first trip since then back to the country, poorest in the Arab world.

“We are responding to a major crisis without having the basics,” he said. “The reality is incredibly dire.”

Cholera, a bacterial disease spread by water contaminated with human waste, causes potentially fatal dehydration if left untreated. It has been expanding at an alarming rate in Yemen for the past month, from a few thousand cases to roughly 70,000. Most areas of the country are affected, Mr. Cappelaere said.

Unicef, also known as the United Nations Children’s Fund, has provided clean water to roughly one million people, rehydration kits and other medicine to help fight the outbreak. Like other aid groups, it has implored combatants in the conflict to pause so that more can be done.

Mr. Cappelaere said Unicef was calculating that without significant intervention, “within a few weeks’ time” the number of Yemen cases could reach 250,000 to 300,000.

“Cholera doesn’t need a permit to cross a checkpoint or a border, nor does it differentiate between areas of political control,” he said in a statement released by Unicef about his visit.

Yemen has been since March 26, 2015 under brutal aggression by Saudi-led coalition.

Thousands have been martyred and injured in the attack, with the vast majority of them are civilians.

Riyadh launched the attack on Yemen in a bid to restore power to fugitive ex-president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi who is a close ally to Saudi Arabia.

Source: Websites

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One Day, Three Serious News Stories That Turn Out To Be False

By Moon Of Alabama

May 16, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – It is a fakenews day. Three stories are making the rounds through the media that are each based on false or widely exaggerated interpretation of claims. North Korea, Syria and the U.S. President are the targets.

1. The Wall Street Journal asserts with a #fakenews headline that bits of computer-code in the recent WannaCry ransom virus are identical with bits of computer code that was allegedly used in a 2014 hack of Sony. (The Sony attack was falsely attributed to North Korea.)

Researchers Identify Clue Connecting Ransomware Assault to Group Tied to North Korea

Neel Mehta, a security researcher at Alphabet Inc.’s Google unit, on Monday pointed out similarities between that earlier WannaCry variant and code used in a series of attacks that security specialists have attributed to the Lazarus group.

The “Lazerus group” (which probably does not exist at all) was attributed to North Korean state agencies. Six paragraphs later we learn that the “similarities” were found in often reused code:

The findings don’t necessarily demonstrate that Lazarus or North Korea was involved in the WannaCry attack, researchers said. The culprits in the latest attack, who haven’t been identified, could have copied the code in question, for example.

The connection found in the old version lies in software that both programs use to securely connect to other systems over the internet, said Kurt Baumgartner, a Kaspersky Lab researcher.

Common code is found in nearly all software that sets up an internet connection. The reason for that is quite simple. No longer does anyone ever write such code. There are well tested examples of such program snippets widely available in open-source software on Github and elsewhere. “Copy and paste” is done faster than re-inventing the wheel. Even worse – the code snippet in question here is so trivial that any decent programmer would likely write it the very same way (a call to the Time() function to get a seed value for a following call to the Random() function). There are only X reasonable ways to add 1 to 1. Two people doing it the same way proves nothing at all. People copying publicly available code proves nothing either. It certainly does not prove that code for two different hacks was written by the same people. It does not provided that these bugs have anything at all to do with North Korea. The bits of similarities are of zero factual news value.

2. Back in February Amnesty International (which promotes NATO interventions) issued a sensational report about alleged killings in Syrian prisons. As we wrote at that time:

A new Amnesty International report claims that the Syrian government hanged between 5,000 and 13,000 prisoners in a military prison in Syria. The evidence for that claim is flimsy, based on hearsay of anonymous people outside of Syria. The numbers themselves are extrapolations that no scientist or court would ever accept. It is tabloid reporting and fiction style writing from its title “Human Slaughterhouse” down to the last paragraph.

The U.S. State Department now reused that fake report and adds wrongly interpreted satellite pics to further slander the Syrian government:

US: Syria is burning bodies to hide proof of mass killings

In its latest accusations of Syrian abuses, the State Department said it believed about 50 detainees each day are being hanged at Saydnaya military prison, about 45 minutes north of Damascus. Many of the bodies are then burned in the crematorium “to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place,” said Stuart Jones, the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East, accusing Assad’s government of sinking “to a new level of depravity.”

The department released commercial satellite photographs showing what it described as a building in the prison complex that was modified to support the crematorium. The photographs, taken over the course of several years, beginning in 2013, do not prove the building is a crematorium, but show construction consistent with such use.

If there was a crematorium being build in the Saydnaya prison how is it that none of the Amnesty witness said so in the recent Amnesty report? These witnesses, Amnesty claims, have been in that prison and observed all kind of details. They claim that any dead were buried in mass graves.

A Dutch military expert looks at the commercial satellite pictures and the interpretation State provided and asks:

Ian Grant‏ @Gjoene – 6:02 PM – 15 May 2017

Is this a joke @StateDept? Even before 27 Aug ’13 these “vents” were present. See included Terraserver footage (03 april ’13) #Sednaya

Another reconnaissance specialist expands on that:

Aldin Abazović @CT_operative – 5:33 PM – 15 May 2017

Pictures that allegedly show crematorium of Saidnaya prison, #Damascus #Syria. As much as I hate to get involved into this matter, these #1
#2 images prove nothing at all. This building could be simple boiler/heating room for the prison compound. Unless you visit there is no
#3 way to prove anything. Its easy to manipulate with satellite imagery. You just put the right label on thing and there you have it
#4 I can’t confirm what the particular part of prison is nor for what it’s used.

The State Department has no evidence for its “crematorium claim” but the Amnesty report which says nothing about a crematorium at the prison and some satellite pictures that do not show what the State Department claims. It is throwing dirt at the Syria government in the hope that some of it will stick. This release of nothing will create some headlines in “western” outrage publications. It may be in propaganda preparation for a wider war on Syria.

3. The deep state is out to get U.S. President Trump impeached. Yesterday a new, well prepared and coordinated campaign against Trump was launched. Anonymous claims to the Washington Post were “confirmed” by similar claims from (likely) the same sources to Buzzfeed. The claims may have some grounds in reality but the actual facts, even as described in shrill words, are harmless. WaPo:

Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador

President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.

(Hmm – how would “former U.S. officials” know what was said in the Oval Office and to what consequences?) It takes six paragraphs of such slander to learn what Trump actually disclosed:

Trump went off script and began describing details of an Islamic State terrorist threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft.

“Terrorist threat[s] related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft” are a well known method of Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula. If ISIS in Syria has copied that modus operandi it is interesting, but nothing sensational. The details, where ISIS is preparing these operations, may be somewhat relevant, but over how many cites does ISIS actually rule?

National Security Advisor McMaster, who was in the room with Trump and Lavrov, is on the record (down in paragraph eight!) denying that any sources or methods were revealed.

The only real claim here is that Trump gave Lavrov a tip-off with regard to a terrorist threat.

If Putin would learn of a potential ISIS attack on a U.S. passenger jet would you want him to share that secret information with the U.S. government? Of course you would.

But Buzzfeed and other anti-Trump organs blow the claims up to high heavens, The Lawfare writers go off their meds:

If the President gave this information away through carelessness or neglect, he has arguably breached his oath of office.

Utter bullshit. Trump would have offered such intelligence out of courtesy as part of his deal-making with the Russian government. Exchange of threat intelligence is regular business even between parties who otherwise dislike each other. It is in the interests of all to do such. That such an exchange happened is not newsworthy.  even it touched some details.

Even worse – it is the publishing about the Oval office talk that can only help the terrorists. As Emptywheel says:

these very outraged sources are [..] sharing the information that it is so outrageous to share.

If Trump’s information sharing is outrageous why did the sources offer that same information to the global media? Why did WaPo and others publish on it?

Trump was elected with the support of the U.S. military. Clinton was supported by the corporate and intelligence sides of the power triangle. Trump won. Now the deep-state intelligence side, together with the moneyed part of the Democratic party, is out to impeach him. The constant sensationalized dribble of false or irrelevant claims against him prepares the ground for that.

The three fake-news examples above contain no news at all. The bits exposed in them have no information value. Their only purpose is to influence the readers by exaggerating outlandish claims based on little, if any, real facts of minor importance.

This full-throated propagandizing on all channels, without any critical voices challenging the basic facts, is endangering the functioning of democracy. The fourth estate is now just a tool to influence. It can no longer claim to have any inherent value.

For the average person one way out of this onslaught is to search for, use and foster alternative and discerning sources of news. The other is to give up.

This article was first published by Moon Of Alabama

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

See also –

Propaganda alert: Impeach Trump? Transcript Will Tell Whether President Blabbed Secrets To Russians:The president has put the nation at risk, not for the first time, and his apparent disdain for normal security and intelligence protocols represents an ongoing national emergency.

Click for Spanish, German, Dutch, Danish, French, translation- Note- Translation may take a moment to load.

What’s your response? –  Scroll down to add / read comments 

Power crisis hits Gaza hospitals as Israel tightens siege on sick

Source

8 May 2017

The humanitarian situation in Gaza is growing more dire against the dimming possibility of a reconciliation between the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority controlled by Mahmoud Abbas, and the Islamist movement Hamas, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, has warned.

UNSCO says the friction between the competing Palestinian regimes that operate under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip “have aggravated an already difficult situation in the Gaza Strip.”

One consequence is that for the last three weeks, Gaza’s electricity crisis has become even more severe, forcing hospitals to curtail services in an attempt to preserve limited fuel supplies.

The World Health Organization warned that all of Gaza’s public hospitals may be forced to suspend critical services, putting thousands of lives at risk.

These growing tensions culminated on 27 April, when the Palestinian Authority decided that it would no longer pay for the electricity Gaza receives from Israel.

Hamas called the move “a grave escalation and an act of madness.”

“Gaza will not kneel for collaborators with the occupation,” Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesperson, posted on Twitter.

PA pressure on Hamas

The step is likely part of the PA’s decade-long effort to force Hamas to cede control in Gaza. Hamas won parliamentary elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2006, but was never allowed to fully assume power over the Palestinian Authority.

A partially successful US-backed putsch led to the split, with Abbas remaining in control of the PA in the West Bank, and Hamas controlling the interior of Gaza.

The Abbas-controlled PA works closely with Israeli occupation forces, while Hamas has continued to engage in armed resistance.

In early April, Abbas said he would take “unprecedented steps in the coming days to end the division” between the West Bank and Gaza.

The PA imposed sharp salary cuts on civil servants there, leading to mass protests. But Rami Hamdallah, the PA prime minister in Ramallah, said, as the BBC reported, that “the salary cuts would stay in place until Hamas moved towards reconciliation.”

Last week, Hamas announced a new charter ditching anti-Jewish language and formally accepting, as Abbas does, a two-state solution with Israel.

It also announced on Saturday that Ismail Haniyeh, its former prime minister in Gaza, has been elected as the movement’s overall leader.

One Israeli analyst suggested in the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz that Abbas’ crackdown on Gaza was part of an attempt to keep Hamas isolated and to curry favor with the new US president. Abbas met Donald Trump at the White House last week.

Hospitals at “minimal capacity”

Meanwhile, Gaza’s economy has been devastated by a 10-year Israeli blockade and repeated military assaults.

In mid-April, Gaza’s only power plant ran out of fuel after a three-month supply funded by Turkey and Qatar was depleted.

The PA has refused Hamas’ requests to reduce or eliminate the heavy taxes on diesel that fuels Gaza’s power plant, a provision UNSCO supports.

Gaza receives just over half of its electricity from Israel which has until now been paid for by the Palestinian Authority.

“Palestinians in Gaza, who live in a protracted humanitarian crisis, can no longer be held hostage by disagreements, divisions and closures,” Nickolay Mladenov, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said.

Gaza is already operating on a severe energy deficit. Its daily supply of electricity from Israel, Egypt and its sole, partially functioning power plant totals only 210 megawatts, while the population of two million requires 450 megawatts per day.

The shortfall means that people in Gaza without backup generators must function with no electricity for 12 to 18 hours a day.

While international assistance has managed to barely keep hospitals open by ensuring they have enough fuel for generators, Gaza’s precarious situation is clear.

Hospitals are currently working “at minimal capacity,” the UN humanitarian coordination agency OCHA reported last month.

Another dire health and environmental consequence is that faced with a lack of energy for water treatment, waste plants are discharging more raw sewage into the sea.

No exit for many

Emergency fuel supplies are only guaranteed through May, forcing hospitals to postpone surgeries and refer more patients outside Gaza, potentially exposing them to life-threatening delays or Israeli attempts at blackmail.

According to UNSCO, since 15 September 2016, Israel has significantly reduced approvals for Palestinians to leave Gaza, including patients.

Last December, Israel approved fewer than 42 percent of applications to leave Gaza for medical care, the lowest rate since 2009, according to UNSCO.

Meanwhile, Egypt kept the Rafah crossing, the only outlet for most of Gaza’s residents, completely closed for the entire month of April.

Letting Israel off the hook

UNSCO acknowledges that Israel’s blockade is responsible for severe impairment in every sector in Gaza, including education, health and agriculture, and urges the “international community” to support the lifting of Israel’s siege.

Yet it still presents the closure as a security measure for Israel.

UNSCO notes that this year marks 10 years of Israel’s closure on Gaza, which UNSCO describes as a response to Hamas’ “violent” takeover in 2007.

As well as ignoring the context of the intra-Palestinian fighting, this timeline ignores that the cut in exit permits began in the mid-1990s, sharply falling after Israel withdrew its settlers from Gaza in 2005.

In the face of the evidence that its prospects have all but vanished, UNSCO continues to insist that the “international community” commit to a two-state solution.

It notes that in the occupied West Bank, Israel’s construction of illegal settlements has surged since last September while the land where Palestinians live is shrinking.

The report confirms that it is “virtually impossible” for Palestinians to obtain building permits in Area C of the West Bank – the 60 percent of the occupied West Bank over which Israel exercises full control. More than 90 percent of applications for building permits are rejected by Israeli occupation forces.

Meanwhile, Israel continues to develop settlements in Area C.

UNSCO acknowledges that Israel’s settlements violate international law, but pointedly fails to call for any sanctions or consequences.

“It is critical that recent international initiatives to advance the prospects for peace translate into a legitimate process to end the occupation and achieve a final settlement to the conflict,” UNSCO implores.

What UNSCO does not explain is how such a “process” would occur in the complete absence of measures to hold the occupying power accountable.

 

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