[www-features] Re Article sent earlier: "Gaza is Toxic"
meshugenerrus at yahoo.com
Fri Nov 3 20:50:50 PST 2006
Dear Indymedia Staff,
After admitting the obvious, that I'm not particularly net savvy, I would very much like to know whether you received my article and what the outcome is. It's long, detailed and a very important background piece on what is behind the current destruction of Gaza. I asked that you place it in the center column and send it on its way around the world.
Please let me know!
I've sent it once again below this reintroduction.
E meshugenerrus at yahoo.com
GAZA IS TOXIC
Today, Gaza is toxic. Its 1.4 million residents are controlled by the IDF, Israeli Defense Forces closure of access routes at the Rafah, Karni, Erez and Kerem Shalom Crossings. Access had been opened briefly on August 15, 2005 with Israels unilateral disengagement from Gaza. The World Bank and the international community pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to jump-start the economy in Gaza. The door slammed shut again on January 25, 2006 with the results of the Palestinian elections in which Hamas won control of the Parliament. Hamas poses what can be considered an existential threat to the State of Israel because its Charter which Hamas refuses to revoke calls expressly for the obliteration of the State of Israel. As a result Israel began to withhold monthly tax receipts, (totaling around $60 million), and convinced its Western allies to suspend aid payments. The impact on the new democratically elected government was devastating. On June 25, 2006 two Israeli
soldiers were killed by a team of Palestinian terrorists who tunneled across the Gaza border and entered an Israeli military outpost near Kerem Shalom. The terrorists captured Corporal Gilad Shalit and took him back to Gaza. At the same time Qassam rockets continue to be fired from northern Gaza into southern Israel.
Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal stated that: I dont know how many people around the world know, its been six years on a daily basis. The best I can do is demand the government protect this place. The siren, (Shacher Adom Red Dawn early warning system), goes off, sometimes its five seconds later after the alarm goes off. Sderot is located less than a mile from the Gaza border. The policy is the problem. A nice quiet city of 24,000 people, we dont have enough protection. Yesterday, we have three Qassams. Lets say in the next month ten or twenty people die from Qassams. Why are they waiting? The government of Israel should be tougher. We have the moral basis to react because its inside the Green Line. To me, one, (death), is one too much!
On June 28, 2006 the IDF began Operation Summer Rain in Gaza involving a coordinated attack utilizing air, land and sea forces. Palestinians led by Hamas launch missiles inside of Israel attacking innocent civilians and kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit inside Israeli territory. No country would tolerate such attacks on its civilians, said Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Deputy Spokesperson Yariv Ovadia.
Captain Noa Meir, IDF Spokesperson said; They chose to invest in terrorism. The climax is the election of a Hamas government. Almost daily rocket attacks. A school was hit. This is the kind of terrorism we are dealing with. [For more info go to www.idf.il/].
I spoke with Inam Wahab, a retired teacher living in Gaza City and asked her how she was doing? The people in Gaza are in a prison. They closed all the borders. No one knows what will happen. No work for all the people, no food for most of the people. All the people here, before, they hope that Hamas would change the situation to the best. But it changed to the worst. The people have no hope. The people want Hamas to leave the government. All the people here in Gaza suffer. No water, no food, no electricity.
I asked what she thought of the U.S. government? If America wants peace for the Palestinians, America will ask Israel to open the borders. We need the help of America to end the occupation.
According to a recent study by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, (go to www.pcbs.gov.ps), 87.7% of Gaza Strip households suffer from poverty. The poverty level in Gaza and the West Bank is based on earning below a rate of US $2.10 per day. The survey goes further to identify that 79.8% of the households in Gaza Strip suffer from extreme poverty, which the report characterizes as being unable to provide for their basic needs of food, dress and housing.
I spoke with Dustin Okezaki, Assistant Director of Operations for UNRWA, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East. The organization is responsible for the 993,818 refugees registered in Gaza including the 474,138 currently living in the refugee camps. We are feeding 830,000 people and weve increased the number we are feeding by 100,00 and the amount of food to large families. The access issue is abysmal. US Secretary of State Rice brokered the Agreement on Movement and Access on November 15, 2005 between the Palestinians and the Israelis. [Go to http://usinfo.state.gov] The Agreement set truckload export volumes at the Karni Crossing of 150 truckloads a day by December 31, 2005 and 400 truckloads a day by December 31, 2006. In August 2006 20 trucks pasts through Karni and in the month of September 377 trucks passed through the Crossing. According to a report by James Wolfensohn, Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement; Since the
beginning of the year the sector, (agriculture), has lost more than $18 million in foregone revenues due to the closures at Karni. [The report was dated April 2006.]
John Dugard, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories wrote in a September 2006 update to the General Assembly that; It seemed clear to me that the Government of Israel had embarked upon a siege in order to bring about regime change. It must be noted that Mr. Dugards fact-finding mission was not recognized by the State of Israel.
I spoke with Khalil Abu-Shammala, Director Al-Dameer Association for Human Rights in Gaza: Hamas won the election and so many people expected it to change for the better. The international community and the Israeli government refused the results of the election. So, they started to stop aid to the Palestinians. There are about 160,000 employees of the Palestinian Authority that dont have their salaries for over seven months. The borders are closed. There is misuse of weapons and an internal conflict between Hamas and Fatah because of the decay. People are suffering. There was a confrontation between security employees and the Executive Force and eleven people were killed. They call it, Black Sunday. He went on to say; Additional problems after the arresting of the Israeli. The Israelis targeted civilian institutions, electric, schools. They punish all the Palestinians, children, women and patients. You can see some people against the kidnapping of the Israeli
soldier. So many Gazans want to reach an end to this crisis. They need to release this soldier.
I asked about the continuing rocket attacks on Israel? Look, we as a human rights organization are against these rockets. We said to the Palestinians; For the sake of Gaza, you do not help the Palestinian cause.
I asked about the future? The majority of Palestinians cannot think about the future. They can only think about the day. The chaos and insecurity, you cannot walk safely on the street. Groups using weapons to solve arguments and the police cannot enforce the rule of law. We dont need to exaggerate. We are victims of the occupation and we are victims of the international community. We ask the international community to take a position.
According to Jaber Wishah, Deputy Director of the Palestine Centre for Human Rights in Gaza; More than 60% are now unemployed. The unemployment increases the social tension. The electricity station was targeted, a completely civil institution. No place in Gaza has electricity 24 hours. Half of Gaza is always in darkness. It affects electrical machines and interrupts daily production. Fisherman are deprived of where they can go, limited to two to three miles and are coming back bankrupt. The situation reflects badly on our daily life. We have the closure reports on our website; www.pchrgaza.org. He said; The most painful thing as defenders of human rights to say truth to power, the lack of information and data about the real situation of whats going on. It allows the government to go on practicing the conspiracy of silence. There is no lack of information. There is a lack of the political will to say no to the collective punishment and the continuing war.
According to Military Sources: The electricity power plant was attacked by the Israel Defense Forces, in order to disrupt the activities of the terror infrastructure involved directly and indirectly in the abduction of Corporal Gilad Shalit. According to the Law of Armed Conflict, it is legitimate to attack a power plant serving, inter alia, the forces of the enemy. Thus, for example the British Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict expressly stipulates that electricity facilities may be legitimate targets, if attacking them has military value. During the strike, precautions were taken so that civilians would not be harmed as a direct result of the attack. For this reason, the strike was directed against a number of transformers located in the plant, rather than the entire plant. This, in light of the understanding that in so doing, the military object could be achieved, with minimum collateral damage to civilians and civilian property.
Long before the capture of Gilad Shalit the IDF were responding to the weapons smuggling tunnels along the Philadelphi Corridor on the border with Egypt. In the aftermath of the War in Lebanon the Israeli government is critically concerned that the tunnels will enable Hamas to arm itself like Hezbollah in densely populated Gaza. In a recent news release the IDF stated that; In the latest weeks IDF forces have exposed about 21 tunnels in the Gaza Strip.
According to an October 10, 2006 Situation Report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs; Two hundred fifty-six (256) Palestinians, including 60 children have now been killed in the continued conflict since 28 June, when Operation Summer Rains commenced. During the same period 848 Palestinians have been wounded. The report states that; Internal Palestinian fighting on Gazan streets escalated dramatically in the last week. Altogether 64 Palestinians have been killed and 363 injured in armed disputes and inter-factional fighting between principally the Fatah and Hamas members and security forces since the beginning of the operation. It goes on to state that; Since 24 August, 82 homemade rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip toward targets in Sderot, Ashkelon and Western Negev, an average of two rockets per day
Two Israeli civilians, one IDF soldier as well as two Palestinian schoolgirls were injured as a result of the homemade rockets. To
view the complete report and updates go to http://www.ochaopt.org/.
It should be noted that the homemade rockets are Qassam class short-range rockets produced by Hamas in cooperation with Iran, Hezbollah and the Palestinian Authority. [For more info on Qassams go to http://www.weaponsurvey.com]. It should also be noted that the situation in Gaza is lethal.
The Israel based Coalition of Women for Peace are organizing a month long international protest against what they are calling the Siege of Gaza, For more info go to http//coalitionofwomen.org/
With enormous pressure on the population of Gaza, the internal conflict between Hamas and Fatah, Israeli and international interest in regime change, rockets attacks on southern Israel, reports of tons of weapons passing through Philadelphi Corridor tunnels and Gilad Shalit still held in captivity, it is clear that Gaza is a toxic time bomb that must be carefully and expeditiously defused before it explodes. Peace begins with discussions not between friends, but between enemies. The process of meeting and negotiation is favorable to the alternative of more bullets, bombs, blood and bodies. It is time for the nations of the world to recognize this and the significance of the current threat and expend the diplomatic energy, manpower and money necessary to resolve the disaster in Gaza before it is too late.
Larry Snider is the founder and coordinator of New Hope For Peace, a Jewish/Muslim/Christian dialogue group and educational forum. A member of the Greater Bucks County Peace Circle he lives in Bensalem and can be reached at meshugenerrus at yahoo.com
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