1. The Occupation
Israel, with U.S. support, has militarily occupied the Gaza Strip (along with the West Bank and East Jerusalem) since 1967. The belligerent occupation, now in its 47th year, is one of the longest, bloodiest and brutal in human history — over 2,500 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza alone in the last seven years.
Up until 2005, Israel maintained illegal Jewish colonies in the Gaza Strip as well. It has since disbanded these colonies and thus claims it’s no longer occupying the Gaza strip. Israel is alone in holding this deceptive view; the UN, US State Department, global NGO’s and legal scholars all consider Gaza a part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories because Israel exercises complete military control over it.
2. The Siege
Israel, with U.S. backing, has laid a brutal siege in the Gaza Strip since 2007. It has blocked off air, land and water access to the Strip — nothing goes in, nothing comes out. This tiny strip of land is home to some 1.7 million people; due to its cage-like setup, Gaza has aptly been described as the ‘world’s largest open air prison.’
The siege has stifled Gaza’s economy, destroyed its infrastructure and has cut off access to some of the most basic amenities needed to live a dignified life. Today, almost 80 per cent of Gazans are dependent on aid as a result of the blockade. The UN has warned Gaza will be inhospitable by 2020 if the siege continues.
3. The Water Crises
Israel’s discriminatory division of water means that Palestinians get 70 litres a day per person, far below the 100 liters per capita minimum, while the Israeli’s get four times this amount. Limiting the water supply results in Gazan households receiving water for only six-eight hours at a time about every other day. Israel severely damaged the sewage treatment infrastructure in Gaza during its 2009 assault; the blockade means the resources needed for repairs are unavailable.
As a result, only 25 per cent of Gaza’s waste water is treated; 90 million liters of untreated or partially treated sewage is dumped into the Mediterranean every day. Contamination of the territory’s ground water is serious concern; about 90 per cent of the water supply in the Strip is unfit for human consumption. Due to over-pumping and sewage contamination Gaza’s only water source, its Coastal Aquifer, is damaged past the point of no return — it will expire in 2016.
4. Scarcity of Fuel and Electricity
Gaza is under a chronic power shortage due to the siege; Israel has severely limited the fuel supply needed to operate the only power plant in the territory. Only 46 per cent of Gaza’s electricity needs are being met currently; this has triggered rolling power outages of 12 hours everyday. Amongst other things, this lack of power means that hundreds of crucial medical devices at hospital are non-functional, including Gaza’s only MRI machine.
5. Leveling of Land and Destruction of Property
The Israeli army conducts weekly incursions into the Gaza Strip to destroy the land it has declared as ‘no-go zone.’ Its tanks, bulldozers and military jeeps, accompanied by helicopters and drones, systematically destroy fruit bearing trees and agricultural land in the Gaza strip. Civilian infrastructure in this area is also demolished; this includes hundreds of houses, wells and chicken farms — mosques and schools are demolished as well.
6. Travel Bans
Israel’s siege has meant that it is virtually impossible for Gazans to leave the occupied territory. They can’t even leave to visit their relatives in the West Bank, let alone in Israel. Gazans with spouses in Israel or the West Bank are forced to live in separation; simple matters such as raising a family are rendered impracticable. Permission to leave even for severe emergencies is rarely given.
By dividing Palestinians, Israel successfully employs the ‘divide and conquer’ strategy like colonial powers of the past. The people of Gaza can’t even seek asylum in other countries due to this restriction on movement. Even students are prohibited from going abroad, or even the West Bank, for higher education; visas of several winners of U.S. Fulbright Scholarships have been revoked in the past.
The Israeli army created a ‘no-go zone’ along the Israel-Gaza border that Palestinians cannot enter. This ‘buffer region’ extends up to 1,500 meters at times into the Strip and includes some of its most fertile land. As a result, 35 per cent of the agricultural space in Gaza is off-limits to farmers. This has seriously damaged the food economy and harshly penalized innocent farmers. Palestinians are fired at arbitrarily if they try to enter this region; farmers suffer serious injuries, and at times death, as a result of this indiscriminate firing.
8. Restrictions on Fishing
Israel has announced that access to the sea six nautical miles beyond Gaza’s shore is prohibited for fisherman. This means that 85 per cent of fishing waters granted to Palestinians under the Oslo Accords is now inaccessible; this has severely impacted Gaza’s coastal economy. Similar to the restricted areas on land, Palestinian fishermen are regularly exposed to warning fire by Israeli naval forces, their fishing boats are intercepted and they are detained — all for the harmless act of fishing.
This is a short list of the some of the unspeakable crimes Israel commits on a defenseless population; they are at the root of this conflict. Rocket attacks from Gaza are a desperate response to these injustices – how does our government manage to omit this when brazenly expressing support for Israel ? In light of the above, let’s try to counter some of the nonsense coming out of the foreign affairs office: No people would ever tolerate an oppressive occupation and an unjust siege, so why should the Palestinians?
Gaza bloodbath: Five children die; toll 572
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Published — Tuesday 22 July 2014
GAZA CITY: The death toll in Gaza rose to 572 on Monday. And the Israeli army said another seven soldiers had been killed in fighting in Gaza, raising the overall Israeli death toll to 27, all but two of them soldiers.
Gaza emergency services spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra said airstrikes and shelling killed 54 people, including five children, across the enclave on Monday, and another 68 bodies were pulled from the rubble in areas hit by heavy fighting a day earlier.
The army also said its troops had killed “more than 10 militants” who had infiltrated Israel through two tunnels. Fighters killed inside Israel are not included in Qudra’s Gaza toll.
The White House said Israel must do more to protect civilians caught up in the crossfire of its assault.
“We would like the Israelis to take even greater steps to ensure the protection of civilians,” spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon demanded an immediate end to the raging conflict, during a visit to Cairo to push for a cease-fire. The “violence must stop, it must stop now,” he said.
Several hundred pro-Palestinian protesters demanded a halt to Israel’s atrocities in Gaza during a peaceful protest near the Israeli Embassy in the Cypriot capital.
Meanwhile, residents of the Gaza Strip lit fireworks and chanted “God is great!” into the early morning darkness on Monday after Hamas said it had captured an Israeli soldier.
Abu Ubaida, the masked and camouflaged spokesman of Hamas’ armed wing, announced that a soldier named as Shaul Alon was seized in heavy fighting on the Gaza border on Sunday.
Gaza massacre termed ‘war crime’
Published — Monday 21 July 2014
GAZA CITY: Palestinian civilians in Gaza suffered the highest death toll since Israel’s aggression began, with around 100 killed on Sunday.
President Mahmoud Abbas said the deaths in the Shejaiya district were a “massacre.” Witnesses spoke of bodies lying in the streets. Television pictures have been showing horrific, bloody scenes of dead elderly women and children.
At the Shifa hospital, there is a traffic jam of emergency vehicles by the entrance. “The hospital was totally overloaded. For many of us, these were the worst scenes we’ve ever had, not only for the density of patients and total overwhelming of our capacity but because of all this pain and agony,” said Norwegian doctor, Mads Gilbert, who has been working in the emergency ward.
“There were children in enormous pain. Totally devastated families were bringing their dead children in and lying on the ground screaming.”
Also on Sunday, the Israeli Army said 13 soldiers were killed in fighting inside the enclave.
Meanwhile, the UN warned it was running out of supplies to help more than 50,000 Palestinians who have sought shelter at its schools in Gaza.
The head of the Cairo-based Arab League, Nabil Elaraby, described Israeli attacks as a “war crime.”
“Elaraby … considered Israel’s terrible shelling and ground attack operations in the neighborhood of Shejaiya as a war crime against Palestinian civilians and a dangerous escalation,” the Arab League said.
A Palestinian cameraman and a paramedic were among dozens of people killed in the district. “Cameraman Khaled Hammad and paramedic Fuad Jaber were killed in a strike on an ambulance, while they were trying to evacuate the wounded from Shejaiya,” emergency services spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra said.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday called on its NATO ally the US to engage in “self-criticism” after it labeled his comments on Israel’s Gaza assault “offensive.”
“If America still says ‘Israel is using its right to self-defense’ it is America that needs to engage in self-criticism,” Erdogan told the TGRT news channel.
Erdogan said Sunday he was sticking to his comments, accusing Israel of using “disproportionate force” and killing Palestinians “mercilessly.”
“How can we ignore this? How can a country like the United States turn a blind eye to this?” he asked. “As a member of the UN Security Council, it needs to act fairly.”
As the violence raged, Abbas arrived in Qatar to discuss a cease-fire with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, with UN chief Ban Ki-moon due there later at the start of a regional tour to push truce efforts.
Meanwhile, French youth defying a ban on a protest against Israel’s Gaza aggression have set fire to cars and garbage cans in a Paris suburb after a calm demonstration. Tension mounted as scores of Jewish youth, some armed with iron bars, encircled a synagogue to “protect” it.