[News] As noose tightens, Palestinians in Gaza face darkest days
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Sep 5 12:45:56 EDT 2013
As noose tightens, Palestinians in Gaza face darkest days
Submitted by Ali Abunimah on Thu, 09/05/2013 - 14:59
Tweets by blogger <http://gazatimes.blogspot.com> Omar Ghraieb capture
the despair many of Gaza's almost 1.7 million Palestinian residents feel
as Israel's blockade, compounded by Egypt's intensifying crackdown, has
brought the territory once more to the brink of catastrophe.
Since the 3 July military coup against Egypt's elected president
Muhammad Morsi, the military regime has destroyed almost all the vital
underground supply tunnels <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/tunnels>
under the Gaza-Egypt border.
This week, Egypt began demolishing houses along its side of its border
a futile and criminal Israeli-style tactic
<http://www.hrw.org/reports/2004/10/17/razing-rafah>, that is seen as a
prelude to establishing a "buffer zone" to further isolate Gaza.
As a result of these and other Egyptian measures, supplies of some
critical medicines have hit zero, the construction industry has
and the Rafah crossing
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/rafah-crossing>, the only entry and
exit for most Gazans, is frequently closed.
The population of Gaza still faces 12-hour daily blackouts due to
Israel's destruction of the electricity infrastructure, but even the
relief provided by noisy and often dangerous portable generators
is fading into darkness as fuel supplies run out.
A new report, "Slow Death; The Collective Punishment of Gaza has reached
a Critical Stage <http://www.euromid.org/report/SlowDeath.pdf>," from
the human rights monitoring group Euro-Mid Observer
<http://www.euromid.org>, highlights the acute crisis that compounds the
effects of the prolonged Israeli blockade.
Ten facts about the Gaza blockade
The report is worth reading in full, but these ten facts about the
impact of the blockade capture the scale of the mounting catastrophe and
underscore the urgent need for pressure on Israel to end it and for
Egypt to end its complicity.
* According to the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/un-ocha> (OCHA), *57
percent of Gaza households are food insecure as of July 2013*,
however, if the current Israeli and Egyptians measures remain as
they are, *65 percent of Gaza households will be food insecure*
(World Food Program estimate June 2010).
* As of August 2013, *over a third (35.5 percent) of those able and
willing to work are unemployed* (Palestinian Central Bureau of
Statistics) -- one of the highest unemployment rates in the world.
Economists expect that the continuous closure of the tunnels will
lead to *a sharp increase in the unemployment level* (43 percent
by the end of 2013 compare with 32 percent in June 2013).
* The continuous closure of the tunnels will lead to a 3 percent
decline in the growth by the end of 2013 compared with 15 percent
as of June 2013.
* *The construction sector is working at less than 15 percent of its
previous capacity* leading to more than 30,000 losses in job
opportunities since July 2013.
* A longstanding electricity deficit, compounded by shortages in
fuel needed to run Gaza's power plant, results in power outages of
up to 12 hours a day (UN OCHA, July 2013).
* *Only a quarter of households receive running water every day*,
during several hours only.
* Over 90 percent of the water extracted from the Gaza aquifer is
unsafe for human consumption.
* Some 90 million liters of *untreated and partially treated sewage*
are dumped in the sea off the Gaza coast each day, creating public
* Over 12,000 people are currently displaced due to their inability
to reconstruct their homes, destroyed during hostilities (UNOCHA,
* The economy has endured severe losses worth $460 million in all
economic sectors within the past two months. (Ministry of Economy-
Collective punishment, collective crime
Although it remains the occupying power, Israel declared Gaza a "hostile
entity" in 2007 and its then prime minister Ehud Olmert
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/ehud-olmert> declared, "We will not
allow the opening of the crossings to Gaza and outside of Gaza to the
extent that it will help them bring back life into a completely normal
These and other Israeli official statements quoted in the Euro-Mid
report highlight that the catastrophe in Gaza is a calculated and
intended effect of the siege, making it a war crime and collective
punishment under international law.
Euro-Mid calls on the "international community," to pressure Israel to
end the blockade.
That call is right, but it is an unavoidable fact that the siege would
not have lasted seven long years already without the complicity and
support of the "international community" in the form of the United
States and its allies, particularly the European Union and compliant
The siege is collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza, but it is
also a collective crime.
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