[News] As noose tightens, Palestinians in Gaza face darkest days

Anti-Imperialist News 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
http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/noose-tightens-palestinians-gaza-face-darkest-days

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 
with Gaza 
<http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/03/us-palestinians-egypt-gaza-idUSBRE9820FE20130903>, 
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 
collapsed 
<http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/stocks-vital-medicines-hit-zero-egypt-israel-tighten-gaza-siege>, 
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 
<http://electronicintifada.net/content/after-narrow-escape-gaza-woman-educates-peers-about-lethal-danger-generators/11263> 
is fading into darkness as fuel supplies run out.


    Slow death

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
      health hazards.
    * Over 12,000 people are currently displaced due to their inability
      to reconstruct their homes, destroyed during hostilities (UNOCHA,
      July 2013).
    * The economy has endured severe losses worth $460 million in all
      economic sectors within the past two months. (Ministry of Economy-
      Gaza)


    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 
pace."

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.


    Complicity

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 
Arab regimes.

The siege is collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza, but it is 
also a collective crime.

-- 
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