Sunday, December 21, 2008

Israeli blockade 'forces Palestinians to search rubbish dumps for food'.

It is a figure which defies belief. 51.8% of the residents of Gaza are now living below the poverty line thanks to Israel's brutal siege. And yet, the vast majority of the planet sits idly by and does nothing whilst this outrage occurs in front of our eyes.

Impoverished Palestinians on the Gaza Strip are being forced to scavenge for food on rubbish dumps to survive as Israel's economic blockade risks causing irreversible damage, according to international observers.

Figures released last week by the UN Relief and Works Agency reveal that the economic blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza in July last year has had a devastating impact on the local population. Large numbers of Palestinians are unable to afford the high prices of food being smuggled through the Hamas-controlled tunnels to the Strip from Egypt and last week were confronted with the suspension of UN food and cash distribution as a result of the siege.

"Things have been getting worse and worse," said Chris Gunness of the agency yesterday. "It is the first time we have been seeing people picking through the rubbish like this looking for things to eat. Things are particularly bad in Gaza City where the population is most dense.

"Because Gaza is now operating as a 'tunnel economy' and there is so little coming through via Israeli crossings, it is hitting the most disadvantaged worst."

This all began because the Palestinians had the temerity, in a democratic election, to choose Hamas as their representatives, a decision which so outraged the US and Israel that they decided the people of Palestine had to be made to see the error of their ways.

To this end they armed the Fatah party and made the civil war between Hamas and Fatah inevitable, which resulted in Hamas seizing the Gaza Strip.

Chris Gunness of the UN Relief and Works Agency perfectly summed up what is happening when he stated:

"This is not a humanitarian crisis," he said. "This is a political crisis of choice with dire humanitarian consequences."

And we must never forget that what we are witnessing is a matter of Israeli policy. Israel has chosen to do this to the Palestinians.
Israel's policy was summed up by Dov Weisglass, an adviser to Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, earlier this year. 'The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger,' he said. The hunger pangs are supposed to encourage the Palestinians to force Hamas to change its attitude towards Israel or force Hamas out of government.
This callous attitude has now resulted in people picking through rubbish tips in search of food, it has resulted in 51.8% of the Palestinian population living below the poverty line.

I can think of no other circumstances in which the world would sit idly by whilst one country did this to another.

And even Tony Blair, who is as pro-Israeli as any politician could possibly be, has stated that this policy is counter productive if it's aim is to lessen Hamas' grip on Gaza:

The deteriorating conditions inside Gaza emerged as Tony Blair, Middle East envoy for the Quartet - US, Russia, the UN and the EU - warned explicitly yesterday that Israel's policy of economic blockade, which had been imposed a year and a half ago when Hamas took power on the Gaza Strip, was reinforcing rather than undermining the party's hold on power. In an interview in the Israeli newspaper Haartez, Blair warned that the collapse of Gaza's legitimate economy under the impact of the blockade, while harming Gaza's businessmen and ordinary people, had allowed the emergence of an alternative system based on smuggling through the Hamas-controlled tunnels. Hamas "taxed" the goods smuggled through the tunnels.

It was because of this that Blair wrote to Israel's prime minister, Ehud Olmert, earlier this month demanding that Israel permit the transfer of cash into Gaza from the West Bank to prop up the legitimate economy.

"The present situation is not harming Hamas in Gaza but it is harming the people," Blair said yesterday. Calling for a change in policy over Gaza, he added: "I don't think that the current situation is sustainable; I think most people who would analyse it think the same."

I would argue that the policy must be immediately stopped because it is so manifestly inhumane, Blair argues that it must be stopped because it ultimately does not work.

I don't care which reason spurs the Israelis to stop what they are doing, I care only that they stop.

And the international community should be pressuring them to do so. They are deliberately starving an occupied people. It is reprehensible.

Click title for full article.


daveawayfromhome said...

When has imposed adversity ever forced someone to change their minds? Wasnt the whole idea behind behind the London bombings in WWII to break the will of the British? Did it work then? This isnt just cruel, it's mad.

Kel said...

I agree Dave. The idea isn't actually to convince the Palestinians to change, no matter what the Israelis say.

The idea behind this is to make sure the Americans don't try to force Israel to negotiate with them.

That way the Israelis can keep on stealing Palestinian land. And continue their ever elusive search for a "partner in peace".

They've been looking for that partner since 1967 and, strangely, have never managed to find one...

...But they do manage to keep building.