Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gaza was demolished in three weeks. Rebuilding it will take years.

If one listens to Western politicians and their Israeli allies one would believe that the tunnels into Gaza are used to smuggle weapons and little else. The truth is very different.

In reality, "the tunnel economy" has been the way in which food, fuel and everything else has reached Gaza since Israel and Egypt sealed off the Strip 18 months ago, when Hamas drove out the rival Palestinian faction Fatah in 2007. Military supplies were always a very small part of Gaza's imports through the tunnels.

"Everything from Viagra to diesel entered Gaza through the tunnels," said one source. At one point before the Israeli attack, the price of petrol went down in Gaza because a pipeline had been threaded through one of the tunnels, all of which are privately dug and owned. Cooking-gas bottles are in short supply because they previously came in through tunnels that are now closed.

"I know middle-class families in Gaza cutting up their furniture to build fires so they can cook their food," said an aid official yesterday. Spare parts are desperately needed for generators.

The Palestinian tunnels and the Israeli-Egyptian border closure were two issues at the centre of the war and their future is still unresolved.

At the centre of this conflict, and it's especially pertinent now that we are discussing ceasefires, is the issue of the siege. Blockades have long been recognised as acts of war, and yet the US, Israel and the EU have decided that a blockade is the appropriate way to deal with the fact that the Palestinian people have chosen Hamas as their representatives.

But surely, now that the Israelis have reduced Gaza to rubble, the need for reconstruction will render the siege obsolete?

That would be the reasonable assumption, but it's probably unwise to make it.
A senior EU official said no aid would be spent rebuilding buildings and infrastructure while Hamas remained in control.
No, our punishment of the Palestinian people - for daring to make a democratic choice which we disagree with - is set to continue.

The initial assessment is that 20,000 homes lived in by 120,000 people have been somewhat damaged and can be patched up so they are habitable again. The 4,000 homes that have been destroyed cannot be rebuilt because Israel is refusing to let construction materials cross the border into Gaza.

Israel, the US and their European allies are eager to prevent Hamas taking charge of reconstruction because this might add to its political standing among Palestinians. They recall that after the Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006, many Lebanese at first blamed Hizbollah for provoking the assault. But Hizbollah took charge of rebuilding and Iran reportedly gave $14,000 to every family which had lost its home, money that was channelled to grateful recipients through Hizbollah.

Gaza has always been the largest open prison in the world. Israel have destroyed it. And now we are demanding that the Palestinians continue to live amongst the rubble for fear that rebuilding it might help Hamas.

There are times when the things my government takes part in fills me with deep shame. This is one of those times.

Seriously, what have these people done to deserve the suffering that we are visiting upon them? What crime have they committed other than having had the misfortune to be born Palestinian?

The United Nations, which is hardly a hot bed of radicalism, has made serious charges of war crimes against the Israelis and demanded that they be investigated. It would appear that our governments are much more concerned with ensuring the crushing of Hamas than they are with any concept of international justice. So Israeli war crimes will not be investigated and Gaza will remain in rubble.

I wonder if this will calm down the civilian population of Gaza or drive them further towards radicalism?

Click title for full article.


Will Conley said...

Your blog pissed me off due to its honest reportage tonight. How dare you, Kel.

Hey man, how goes it? I hope my comment finds you smiling today--you've got a damn good reason to!

Keep pluggin', man, I'm reading you.

Kel said...

Oh, I am smiling today Will. Most of the world is. Today we finally say goodbye to the long, long, nightmare and welcome in hope.

Anonymous said...

Boycott Israel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbIQto3KPUM