Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Netanyahu: We have allowed "the image of a humanitarian crisis".

Benjamin Netanyahu has enraged the Kadima party by attempting to pass all blame for what happened aboard the Mavi Marmara on to the shoulders of the IDF.

Earlier Monday, Livni's Kadima party issued a statement saying that "Netanyahu's testimony before the Turkel commission proves, once again, that there is no leadership."

"At the moment of truth, he put the blame on others and made the IDF into a punching-bag," the statement said.

But that wasn't the thing which he said that outraged me. I found this fantastical:

Netanyahu added that the world was bent on considering the situation in Gaza as a humanitarian crisis, even though there had been photos published of Gaza market stalls filled "to the brim" with food. Food and medicine had all been allowed into Gaza, the Prime Minister noted.

"While we did prevent a humanitarian crisis, we did not succeed in preventing the image of a humanitarian crisis – an image that was entirely false," Netanyahu said.

So, we are to believe that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza and that what we are witnessing is "the image of a humanitarian crisis". Let's look at a report compiled by Amnesty International, Care International UK, Cafod, Christian Aid, Medecins du Monde UK, Oxfam, Save the Children UK and Trocaire. And let's bear in mind that this report was done in 2008, in the early days of the blockade.
Their report details what are calling the worst humanitarian crisis in the strip since Israel occupied it in the 1967 war, and describe it as a man-made disaster resulting from the isolation and blockade of Gaza after its take-over by Hamas militants last June.

More than 80% of Palestinians in Gaza rely on humanitarian assistance, with UN food aid going to about 1.1 million people - three quarters of the population.

Household monthly incomes dropped by 22% in less than four months (June-September 2007). The number of households earning less than $1.20 per person per day went from 55% to 70%.
And yet Netanyahu can appear in public and claim that what we are looking at is merely "the image of a humanitarian crisis".

Only an extremely dishonest person could make those claims. And, to make such a claim publicly, he would have to be ignoring everything that everyone else has said on this subject:
Navi Pillay, the United Nations' human rights chief, called the blockade devastating in an August 2009 report. Pillay said it constituted collective punishment, illegal under international law.
Of course the blockade is collective punishment, that was always the point of imposing it. It was done to punish the Palestinians for daring to vote for Hamas, a point which US Senator, Chuck Schumer, recently admitted with some glee:
SCHUMER: And to me, since the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas, while certainly there should be humanitarian aid and people not starving to death, to strangle them economically until they see that’s not the way to go, makes sense.
Everyone knows that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and we all know why this situation exists.

It's takes a peculiar kind of dishonesty, a very particular disdain for the opinion of the rest of the world, to stand up and claim that we are looking at "the image of a humanitarian crisis" rather than an actual humanitarian crisis.

For we should never forget that, at the very beginning of this embargo, Dov Weisglass made it clear what the Israelis were planning to do.
'The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.'
The hunger pangs are supposed to encourage the Palestinians to force Hamas to change its attitude towards Israel or force Hamas out of government.
And this was never about preventing rockets from entering Gaza, it was about bringing about the collapse of Hamas by forcing the Palestinians to rise up against them. It was about making the Palestinians see that they had made the wrong electoral choice.

To now stand up and claim that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza defies belief.

But this crisis, which is very real, was engineered in order to weaken Hamas and to strengthen Abbas.
"This is a moment of clarity for all Palestinians, and now comes a moment of choice," President Bush noted in July 2007, shortly after Fateh's expulsion from Gaza. "The alternatives before the Palestinian people are stark. There is the vision of Hamas, which the world saw in Gaza--with murderers in black masks, and summary executions, and men thrown to their death from rooftops. By following this path, the Palestinian people would guarantee chaos, and suffering, and the endless perpetuation of grievance. They would surrender their future to Hamas's foreign sponsors in Syria and Iran. And they would crush the possibility of a Palestinian state." The widespread adoption of Bush's narrative guaranteed the "chaos, suffering, and endless perpetuation of grievance" that he promised.
So, it is beyond question that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Nor should we ever forget why Bush and Co created it. Bush was told by Abbas that he should not push ahead with elections and that, if he did so, Hamas might win. When Hamas won, the international community started starving the Palestinians, and Israel started transferring Palestinian money to Fatah rather than to Hamas, and was even found to be arming Fatah through Egypt. The violent clashes between the two Palestinian groups was inevitable.

The EU, Israel, the US and other western proxies (Egypt) formed a private militia to oppose a democratic choice which we did not approve of. This has resulted in a dreadful humanitarian crisis. It's bad enough that we fail to admit how complicit we are in all that is taking place in Gaza, but to pretend that there is no crisis at all is simply obscene.

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