New racist policies against impoverished Gazan workers
20 November 2002
The Israeli Occupation Authorities has issued new work policies in the 'Eretz industrial zone' in the northern Gaza Strip, which forbid Gazans from wearing shoes, coats or bringing food from home.
The Israeli newspaper, Yediot Ahronot on Wednesday quoted Israeli military sources in Gaza who noted that for laborers in the 'Eretz industrial zone' it was now forbidden to wear shoes or bring in food. For other industrial zones, wearing coats is now forbidden.
These new policies come in the wake of recent comments made by Israeli PM Ariel Sharon to 'ease the suffering' of Palestinians not 'involved in terrorism.' Israeli sources defended these new policies as claiming that it would prevent smuggling of weapons.
Prior to the first Intifada, Gazans used to seek work in Israel. Since the Oslo peace process, Gaza has been completely sealed off - essentially a large prison - with devastating effects on employment and poverty levels there. During this Intifada small workshops, green houses and farm lands have all come under Israeli bombardment. Many Gazans are forced to seek laboring work to survive, essentially becoming a pool of extremely cheap labor for Israeli industrial zones (illegally built in the Occupied Territories) and settlement building.
According to the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, 84.6% of Gazans live in poverty (measured by income). The World Bank, defining poverty as living under 2USD a day, ntoes that 70% of Gazans live in poverty.
86.1% of Gazans receive humanitarian aid, while 42.1% of all Gazans are totally dependant on food aid. 31.2% of all Gazans suffer from malnutrition. Gaza: 13.2% suffer acute, and 18% suffer chronic, malnutrition.
This new move is a new form of robbing Gazans of their dignity, and carries strong racist overtones.
Israel, as the Occupying power in the Gaza Strip, is obliged to ensure the inviolability of the rights of protected persons in the Occupied Territories. The deliberate denial of access to food and water, impoverishment, starvation and de-development policies contravene Israel's obligations specifically under the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949, including under articles 23 (obligation to allow free passage of consignments of medical and supplies, food and clothing during situations of war/armed conflict), 27 (general obligations); 33 (prohibition against collective punishment); 47 (inviolability of rights of protected persons in occupied territories).