[News] Gaza's Death Throes

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Nov 28 11:23:47 EST 2008


November 28-30, 2008

Is Anyone Listening?

Gaza's Death Throes


What kind of government in the 21st century can 
deny another people basic human rights - that is, 
the right to food, water, shelter, security and dignity?

What kind of government imposes draconian 
sanctions on another people for democratically 
electing a government not to its liking?

What kind of government seals a heavily populated 
territory of 1.5 million people so that no person 
can enter or leave without permission, fishermen 
cannot fish in their own waters, and world food 
aid cannot be delivered to the starving population?

What kind of government shuts off fuel, water and 
electricity and then rains down on the people, bombs and artillery fire?

The answer is - no government of integrity.

And yet, government after government in Israel 
continues to demand recognition and accolades as 
a first world democracy superior to all others, 
despite Israel’s flouting of international law, 
its human rights abuses and the criminality and 
corruption of Israeli leaders.  Worse still, the 
world has acquiesced and has welcomed every 
Israeli administration into its fold as a favoured guest.

This should give everyone pause to revisit our 
noble declarations of independence and human 
rights, ethics, morality, religious beliefs, 
civil liberties and the rule of law.  Are they 
just for show or do they really mean 
something?   Are they intended only for some people or for all people?

Israel’s President Shimon Peres is just one of 
the many leaders who have furthered Israel’s 
aggressive policies and programs and yet he has 
been honoured with a knighthood from the Queen 
and is likely to be honoured with a lecture 
series named after him at Oxford University’s 
Balliol College. Dubious honours indeed, for a 
man who helped to forcibly expel 750,000 
Palestinians from their homeland in the 1948 war.

Today, we are witnessing in Gaza the kind of 
ghetto the world thought it would never see again 
and the comparison was conjured up early this 
year by Israel’s deputy defence minister Matan 
Vilnai  when he threatened “a bigger holocaust 
(shoah)” against the Palestinians in 
Gaza.  Later, he explained away his use of the 
word as meaning “disaster”, when in fact it has 
emotional connotations well known to 
everyone.  Either way, the threat was ominous enough.

The slow death that is being visited on the 
Palestinians in Gaza is finding its first victims 
in more than 400 critically ill patients who are 
being prevented from leaving Gaza for urgent 
medical attention in Israeli or Arab hospitals. 
Thousands of other patients are being turned away 
from hospitals suffering from a severe shortage 
of 300 different kinds of medicines.

The hospitals have been deprived of medicines and 
equipment for so long now, that the trickle of 
supplies finally being allowed through, can no 
longer meet the minimum daily needs of the 
Palestinian civilian population.  Similarly, the 
energy fuel being shipped in, is barely enough to 
operate the Gaza power plant for one day.

This drip-feeding of aid was suggested by Israeli 
Prime Ministerial adviser Dov Weisglas who said 
in February 2006: “The idea is to put the 
Palestinians on a diet, but not make them die of hunger.”

Such a malevolent policy has led to a steady 
increase in malnutrition as people are being 
starved of their staples of life. Not only have 
the flour mills been forced to shut down because 
fuel and power have run out, but now all wheat 
supplies have been exhausted.  Out of the 72 
bakeries operating in the Gaza Strip, 29 have 
completely stopped baking bread and others are 
expected to follow.  This means that even the 
most staple of all foods – bread - will soon not 
be available for a hungry population.

A Red Cross report describes the effects of the 
siege as “devastating”.   Seventy per cent of the 
population is suffering from food insecurity 
while the suspension of food aid distribution to 
some 750,000 refugees in the pitiful camps in 
Gaza since 4 November, has further devastated 
Palestinians with no recourse to other alternatives.

The United Nations, Amnesty International and 
Human Rights Watch have all called Israel’s 
blockade ”cruel”. Former president Jimmy Carter 
makes no apology for describing the situation as 
“a heinous atrocity” amounting to a war crime.

In Britain, Oxfam’s CEO Barbara Stocking has 
strongly criticised the Foreign Secretary David 
Miliband for not mentioning the “human 
desperation” in Gaza on his recent trip to Israel and Palestine.

Israel’s tactics though may be unravelling.

So draconian has been Israel’s closure of Gaza, 
the world’s biggest media organisations including 
the New York Times are outraged that their 
journalists have been banned from entering the 
Gaza Strip and have protested in writing to 
Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Christian leaders have also been excluded from 
Gaza. Last week, Israel prevented Archbishop 
Franco, the Papal Nuncio in Israel, from 
celebrating mass to mark the beginning of Advent 
in the holy weeks leading up to Christmas.

And in the occupied West Bank, Israeli Minister 
Ehud Barak has approved the building of hundreds 
more illegal settlement units with a flagrant 
disregard of the peace process agreements, 
further frustrating the current US administration 
eager to produce a solution before the end of its term.

What is truly astonishing is the world’s silence 
in the face of all this. The shameful rush to 
grant Israel every honour and recognition so that 
it will be saved from the historical ignominy of 
having orchestrated the destruction of 
Palestinian society, is nothing short of unconscionable.

Sonja Karkar is the founder and president of 
Women for Palestine and one of the founders and 
co-convener of Australians for Palestine in 
Melbourne, Australia.  She is also the editor of 
and contributes articles on Palestine regularly to various publications.

She can be contacted at 
<mailto:sonjakarkar at womenforpalestine.org>sonjakarkar at womenforpalestine.org

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