“Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of their leaders. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same anywhere. “ – Herman Goering
COEXIST has been a little quiet of late because I have been driving in a convoy of humanitarian aid to Gaza with Viva Palestina. Full details on the blog (www.pippabartolotti.blogspot.com). I have witnessed for myself the level of terror and oppression being daily forced upon the besieged Palestinians, millions of whom are scattered in refugee camps across the Middle East, millions of whom are patiently and peacefully resisting the combined forces of the US, Israel and the EU to form an orderly queue, give up ownership to their houses and farms from which they were driven in 1948, and accept the perpetual fate of being a barricaded third class citizen in their own land.
In January 2006, in a remarkable act of courageous civil disobedience, the people of Gaza had a free and fair democratic election and voted in the Hamas government. For this their punishment has been continual and unrelenting.
In December – January 2008-9, just after Hamas had offered a ‘cessation of aggression’, a merciless attack was carried out upon the civilians of Gaza in order to inflict terrible pain. 1,600 Palestinian men, women and children were slaughtered and 5,000 wounded. Israel had no right to fire even one single bullet into the Gaza Strip at that time. 13 Israeli soldiers were killed.
Since then all crossing points into Gaza have been sealed. Food supplies are inadequate and intermittent, clean water is delivered every 3 days or so, there are 5000 demolished houses and 15000 damaged ones yet absolutely no building materials are allowed through the blockade. The sewerage pours raw into the Mediterranean Sea because of bomb damage to the treatment works and no means to repair it. There are no spare parts, the ambulances which escaped direct targeting in the Israeli attack are mostly out of order. The majority of commercial bakeries in Gaza – 30 out of 47 – have had to close because they have run out of cooking gas. Medicines , fuel, and the means to maintain the small amount of infrastructure still standing are smuggled in through the tunnels at Rafah or brought in by organisations like Viva Palestina who are continually trying to break the blockade by sending convoys of humanitarian aid. www.vivapalestina.org
The great Noam Chomsky in his book Hopes and Prospects ISBN 978-0-241-14475-6 suggests that this pain and suffering is inflicted – not to reduce the threat of Hamas forces – but to eliminate the threat of political settlement.
A siege is an act of war. I have witnessed the daily patrol of Israeli submarines across the Gazan horizon, the incessant patrolling of Israeli warships in Gazan fishing waters. International law gives these people 22 nautical miles of territorial rights, Israel gives them a few hundred yards or they are blown out of the water. Sizable fields of natural gas have been discovered in Gazan territorial waters. It is reasonable to suppose that these resources which could be a major source of income for Gaza are shortly to be appropriated by Israel, with full US consent.
I have heard the daily overhead roar of low flying Israeli fighter jets, seen the fear in men’s faces, and the weekly tally of dead farmers and their children working near the border, used by Israel as target practice. www.pchrgaza.org A young man in Gaza said to me “Life in Gaza is dangerous and scary. We have to fight for hope”.
But don’t think of the Israeli government as the culprit. The UN has declared the siege of Gaza illegal, but no government is prepared to step up to the mark and defy the combined power of the international ruling classes in order to end the suffering of these people. The US and Israel operate in tandem (albeit with the weak and grovelling acquiescence of the British and the EU). Israel relies crucially on the US for military, economic, diplomatic and ideological support. It will proceed as far as the US allows. Israel’s criminal actions are US criminal actions. If Gaza falls, who will be next?
Sara Roy, a leading specialist on Gaza states:
“Gaza is an example of a society that has been deliberately reduced to a state of abject destitution, its once productive population transformed into aid-dependent paupers. …Livelihoods, homes and public infrastructure have been damaged or destroyed on a scale that even the Israeli Defence Forces admitted was indefensible. In Gaza today there is no private sector to speak of and no industry. 80% of Gaza’s agricultural crops are destroyed and Israel continues to snipe at farmers attempting to plant and tend fields near the border. Most productive activity has been extinguished.”
What is the hope for the people of Gaza? I have to inform you that this is entirely in your hands. Look beyond the sophisticated propaganda machine and enlighten yourself:
How many Palestinians are currently held in Israeli jails? - At least 10,000. The majority of whom are on 99 year sentences http://www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk/resources/fact-sheets/646-health-conditions-of-palestinian-prisoners-in-israeli-jails
What date did the last Israeli bulldozer entered Gaza to destroy homes? - Monday 1st November 2010 http://www.presstv.ir/detail/149264.html
If Gaza Falls http://www.fromoccupiedpalestine.org/node/1762