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Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza Created by Israel Backed by the U.S.

Gaza today: caged-in

One and a half million human beings live in Gaza — an integral part of Palestine. They are suffering extreme hardship — their economy has collapsed due to the Israeli blockade, which has severely limited imports and prevented all exports since June 2007. A narrow strip of land, Gaza is besieged on all sides by land, sea, and air — with sophisticated barbed-wire fences, concrete walls and military lookout towers, and Israeli navy ships.

Movement of people is blocked

No one can enter or leave Gaza without the approval of the Israeli authorities. The seven border gates--which provide the only access with the rest of the world — are sealed off. One of the seven crossings, Karni, was the main route for commerce to and from Gaza.

Even Palestinians with a critical need to leave Gaza are blocked:

  • The seriously ill have frequently not been allowed into the West Bank/Israel for treatment (A.P. 10/15/07). Denying necessary treatment to Gaza patients has been denounced by Physicians for Human Rights — Israel. Several patients have died since June and others have lost limbs or eyesight because of the blockade, according to Human Rights Watch.
  • Palestinian students have not been allowed out to continue their studies in the West Bank or abroad and so have no hope of completing their education.

The results of the closures: World Bank reports (9/07)

  • Poverty: In 2006 35% lived in "deep" poverty (under $2 per day); currently this is up to 67%. Malnutrition is on the rise. The population is completely dependent on outside aid to survive.
  • Production: 90% of industrial operations are closed.
  • Unemployment: 44%, mainly due to the lay-off of 30,000 industrial workers (out of 35,000).
  • Agriculture: Output expected to decline by 50% this year; production for export — expected to be $12 million — will be zero due to closures.
  • Irreversible damage: Many businesses have moved (to Egypt and elsewhere) and are not likely to return; other businesses have lost their customers and are not likely to reopen.

Purpose of the closures

The Israeli siege of Gaza, supported by the US and European Union sanctions and with the blessing of the Abbas leadership of the Palestinian Authority, is calculated to make the people suffer in order to put pressure on the Hamas government, which was democratically elected in 2006 and has not been allowed to govern. The siege and sanctions began immediately after the elections and tightened after Hamas deposed its rivals and established itself in Gaza.

Cuts to fuel supplies

Israel has begun to cut fuel and other supplies to Gaza, including diesel fuel, which is used to power generators that are required to pump drinking water, to flush sewage, and to provide power to hospitals. In addition to increasing the misery of the population, this is widely regarded as a step toward military action against Gaza.

Israel's blockade targets civilians

Israel is a signatory to the Geneva Convention, which states that it is responsible for the well-being of the people it occupies. Although Israel points to its unilateral withdrawal from Gaza (in Sept. 2005) it continues effectively as an occupying force by virtue of its total control over Gaza's borders, airspace, and resources. Hamas's firing of rockets at Israel is wrong, but Israel's use of collective punishment in retaliation for these attacks is totally disproportionate, and is knowingly targeted at civilians. It is therefore illegal, according to Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

We must not keep silent

Americans have a particular responsibility to raise their voices and ensure that information about the crisis in Gaza reaches American citizens. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. aid. U.S. tax dollars fund the Occupation and help pay for the strangulation of Gaza. And New Yorkers have even more interest in condemning "collective punishment" of civilian populations — we have twice been the victim of such actions. Just as al-Qaeda justified its attacks on civilians at the World Trade Center on 9/11 by the many U.S. outrages in the Middle East, Israel justifies its blockade and bombardments of Gaza civilians by the homemade rocket attacks coming from Gaza. Both are wrong.

Brooklyn For Peace urges:

  • An immediate end to the blockade — open all the crossings to permit free communications, travel and trade between Gaza and the rest of the world.
  • An end to U.S. government collaboration in the siege of Gaza, and the targeting of civilians.
  • Full disclosure of the nature and extent of the U.S. role in precipitating the violence that led to the Hamas takeover in Gaza.
  • An end to violence targeting civilians by all parties.
  • US efforts to have the Palestinian delegation to any future peace talks be broadly representative and particularly to include representatives of Hamas.

TAKE ACTION NOW:

Call State Dept Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs 202-647-7209, and your Cong. Rep. Demand an immediate end to the assault on Gaza, and the opening of its border crossings to people and goods.

Make a contribution to the January 26 Relief Convoy to Gaza. Tax-deductible checks (put Gaza Relief Convoy in the memo line) can be made out to the Eschaton Foundation and mailed to 515 Broadway, Santa Cruz, California 95060, or donate on-line at http://rcnv.org/donate.

For more information, and other actions you can take, contact: Israel-Palestine Committee, Brooklyn For Peace (formerly Brooklyn Parents for Peace). is.pales@brooklynpeace.org or call 718–624–5921.