Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gaza: Good News and Bad

Gaza: Good News and Bad - by Stephen Lendman


First the good. On November 22, the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) said a "Freedom Spring" convoy arrived through Rafah's border terminal, connecting Gaza and Egypt.


Arab Spring movement members will meet Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyya and other Palestinian officials. In addition, meetings will be held with women's groups, local NGOs, and others.


Tours through Gaza's refugee camps and visiting UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency) are planned.


Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) head Ahmad Bahar called the visit historic, saying "convoy members managed to defend their people's dignity and honor, and now, they came to Gaza to express support and solidarity with their people."


"You came to challenge this siege. I want to tell you that today is the beginning of the end of this siege, the siege that was never lifted, despite conspiracies and claims of easing it. This conspiracy is against the steadfastness of our people, the people who defend their dignity, children and country, the people who want to liberate Jerusalem."


Egyptian Popular Committee Against the Judaization of Jerusalem head, Salah Sultan, said convoy members will "return as fighters and liberators of Jerusalem and the Al Aqsa Mosque. We will stand with you. The world will stand with you to defend Jerusalem, especially after the Zionists declared plans to demolish the historic Moghrabi (Magharba) Gate in Jerusalem that links between the Al Boraq Wall and the Al Aqsa Mosque."


Arab Spring activists represent solidarity with besieged Gazans. They also reflect a growing spirit that others support their liberating struggle.


On November 22, the Palestine News Network headlined, "Israel Allows More Construction Materials into Gaza, Exports Still at Zero," saying:


Nearly 300 trucks came through southern Gaza's Karem Abu Salem crossing. They carried industrial, agricultural, and transportation supplies.


Palestinian liaison official Ra'ed Fattouh said 12 trucks delivered cement and other construction materials, despite a near ban most times. Another 53 trucks carried gravel, 11 had aid supplies, 183 were for industrial use, 40 delivered livestock feed, nine were for agriculture, five for transportation, and 20 had new vehicles.


Another 50 came for UNRWA projects. Cooking gas supplied only one-fourth of current weekly needs, falling way short of avoiding a humanitarian crisis.


No exports left Gaza since May 13, 2011. At the time, a small truckload of flowers destined for the Netherlands got out.


Oxfam says Gaza's export ban keeps its economy "heavily dependent on local demand." However, it's constrained by an impoverished population's weak demand.


"Until crossings are fully open for export, the impact of the easing of the blockade on unemployment, poverty and food insecurity rates remains limited."


Israel planned it that way. It's siege is politically motivated. It has nothing to do with security. Saying so's a ruse to maintain it illegally.


The Bad News


It always overwhelms the good. Daily, the Palestine News & Information Agency (WAFA) reports it. On November 22, it said:


(1) Israeli Rimon Prison security forces "viciously attacked" Palestinian prisoners "looking for hidden cellular phones." Beatings followed. Personal belongings were destroyed. Prisoners were isolated in solitary confinement. Other punishments were imposed.


Palestinian minister of prisoners' affairs, Issa Qaraqi, accused Israel of targeting prisoners for "political gains."


(2) Israeli bulldozers razed Hassan Erekat's agricultural land. Irrigation networks were destroyed. They were the main water source for land northeast of Jericho. Doing so was malicious and criminal. Reasons given were spurious.


(3) Homes of West Bank activists were raided. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said 17 of its members were arrested in Jenin, its refugee camp, area villages, and Kufr Malik village east of Ramallah.


On November 21, WAFA monitored "incitement and racism" in Israeli publications. One article said releasing Palestinian "murderers" in the Gilad Shalit swap damaged Israel's "legitimacy of our fight against terrorism."


Another same day report said Jewish extremists broke into Jaffa's Hasan Beik mosque "to perform Jewish prayer" inside. Doing so was lawless breaking and entering. Damage done was vandalism.


Israeli authorities turned a blind eye like they always do, inciting further incidents. Israeli hard-liners earlier tried to torch the mosque. No prosecutions followed.


Numerous reports say Gaza patients can't access treatment abroad when it's unavailable otherwise. Last summer, children needing life-saving surgery were denied. So are others for political reasons, targeting human need maliciously.


Getting permission to leave is daunting. Permits are required. Bureaucratic obstacles must be overcome. The entire process is time-consuming. Gravely ill patients can't wait. As a result, some die needlessly. Others suffer interminable pain. So do loved ones watching them.


On November 17, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) headlined, "Gaza: Residents deprived of critical medications and medical care," saying:


Gaza health facilities are critically short of drugs and medical supplies. MSF and others can't make up for shortfalls. "In late September, 36% of essential drugs were lacking," some entirely.


Since Israel besieged Gaza in June 2007, conditions continue to deteriorate. Aid falls far short of needs. At least 164 essential drugs are "completely unavailable."


“Patients' health is threatened....Only 260 of the 900 required medical supply items (specifically, single-use items) were supplied."


Most affected medical areas include surgery, intensive care, hermodialysis, treatment to prevent organ transplant rejection, oncology, hematology, psychiatric medications, ophthalmology, maternity, pediatrics, and catheterization lab procedures to diagnose and treat heart disease.


In addition, five medical centers treating kidney disease face drug shortages. Unless resupplied within several weeks, they'll be exhausted. As a result, patients' lives will be endangered. Many already are. For others it's too late.


MSF concluded saying, "We remain particularly concerned about the future of Gaza's patients and ill residents."


Staying alive and healthy under siege is daunting. Few in normal surroundings understand. Gazans live it daily.


A Final Comment


Last August, the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights titled a report, "Israel makes Torture, degrading treatment a policy," saying:


Its field report covering the period from May 1, 2009 - April 30, 2010 said Israel practices it in numerous ways, despite international law prohibiting all forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.


Notoriously, Israel brutally mistreats Palestinians in custody, including women and children.


Many other forms of mistreatment are also common. They include lawless arrests and detentions, attacking peaceful protesters, middle-of-the-night raids, restricting free movement and expression, denying critically needed medical care outside Gaza, bulldozing Palestinian homes, displacing residents, prohibiting farmers from accessing their land, attacking fishermen at sea, restricting access to essential services, besieging Gaza, and much more.


The Committee Against Torture (CAT) includes 10 independent experts, charged with monitoring the implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by State parties.


All States must submit reports, annually at first after adopting the Convention, quadrennially thereafter.


CAT called besieging Gaza "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment....a prima facie violation of....CAT." It also violates Fourth Geneva's collective punishment prohibition.


Israel spurns all international laws, no matter its treaty obligations. All Palestinians suffer extreme repression, especially Gazans, suffocating horrendously under siege.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.


Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.