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Gaza Blockade's Fifth Anniversary

by Stephen Lendman Saturday, Jun. 16, 2012 at 8:33 PM


Gaza Blockade’s Fifth Anniversary

by Stephen Lendman

Gaza's blockade is illegal. Collective punishment is prohibited. Fourth Geneva's Article 33 states:

"No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited."

"Pillage is prohibited."

"Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited."

Israel spurns all international laws and its own. It commits crimes of war and against humanity with impunity.

Isolating Gaza is a war crime. June 14 marked the blockade's fifth anniversary. Around 50 international human rights and organizations, as well as six UN bodies called for immediately lifting it.

A joint appeal said:

"For over five years in Gaza, more than 1.6 million people have been under blockade in violation of international law. More than half of these people are children. We the undersigned say with one voice: 'end the blockade now."

"More than 80 percent of families in Gaza are dependent on humanitarian aid."

"This amounts to a collective punishment of all those living in Gaza and is a denial of basic human rights in contravention of international law."

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) marked the anniversary with a report titled "5 Years and Counting: International Organizations and Donors Continue to Fund Israel's Illegal Closure on the Gaza Strip."

In mid-June 2007, total isolation was illegally imposed. World leaders yawned and did nothing. They're still silent. They're complicit in crimes of war and against humanity.

Since 1991, Israel imposed severe hardships on Gaza. At issue was curtailing political and economic freedom. Free movement was also restricted.

Despite a November 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access, Israel enforced severe restrictions on people and goods movement.

Five years ago this month, total closure was imposed. Israel calls Gaza a "hostile entity." As a result, 1.7 million Palestinians are lawlessly collectively punished.

Free movement is denied. Imports and exports of goods are restricted. Essential food, fuel, medical supplies and construction materials are affected.

Virtually all essentials face severe shortages. Redeveloping Gaza is prevented. Unemployment and poverty grow. Without aid, survival is at issue. With it, humanitarian crisis conditions exist.

Unless closure is lifted, "it will be impossible for (Gazans) to rebuild their lives, and (be able) to secure their fundamental human rights."

By continuing to fund the closure, donors relieve Israel's responsibility as an occupying power to observe inviolable international law. Collective punishment continues to be policy.

Blockade conditions exist behind "a security apparatus consisting of a fence, concrete wall, and military installations...."

Israel controls Gaza's coast and air space. Fishermen are attacked at sea. Farmers are shot in their fields. So are children. Israeli border guards use them for target practice.

Pre-mid 2007, five border crossings operated. Karni provided 75% of Gaza imports. Around 600 truckloads got daily access. Another 400 carried exports.

In May 2012, two border crossings operated - Karm abu Salem for goods and Erez for pedestrians. Both face severe restrictions. Traffic is curtailed. Karm abu Salem operates at a fraction of its capacity.

About 570 truckloads daily are required to supply basic needs. In April, Israel allowed only 149 passage rights. Around one-fourth of what's needed got through.

Exports are greatly restricted. Amounts fluctuate monthly. In January, around 3% of pre-2007 levels were permitted. February, March, and April amounts dropped.

Longer waiting times were imposed for goods and pedestrians. Perishable goods are affected. Costs increase. Bureaucratic red tape harms humanitarian efforts.

Permit permission takes more time for approval. International organizations can't function properly. Costs are excessively high. The UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) said it's paying an extra $4 million.

Moreover, goods must be placed on pallets. Containers aren't allowed. Amounts shipped are affected. When emergencies arise, aid groups can't respond properly. Approvals take months to arrange.

Around 19% of UN projects wait on average 17 months for approval. Moreover, since September 2011, no UNOPS ones were approved. Humanitarian efforts are challenged.

The World Food Program also reported difficulties supplying Gaza's essential needs. Israel's closure policy bears full responsibility. Agencies say cost issues and inordinate delays impede them.

UNRWA saw its emergency aid budget increase from about $52 million in 2006 to around $64 million in 2010. OCHA is severely strapped. Its $2.8 million 2006 budget ballooned to $7 million in 2011.

Around 80% of Gazans are aid dependent. Over 40% are impoverished or severely so. Nearly two-thirds of Gazans are refugees. Over 80% of Gazan factories remain closed or operate at a fraction of full capacity.

With limited ability to import and severe export restrictions, Israel suffocates Gaza. Moreover, Its lawless buffer zone prohibits access to about 30% of total agriculture on land considered most arable.

Families can't support themselves. Fishermen can't make a living. The impact on civilian lives is scandalous. Virtually nothing is done to relieve it.

Occupying powers are responsible for the welfare of people they control. Article 43 of the Hague Regulations obligate them with regard to health, education, quality of life, public works, other essential infrastructure, and overall material conditions.

Fourth Geneva Articles 55 and 56 require occupying powers to provide food and health care. Under Article 69 of Additional Protocol I, provision for clothing, bedding and shelter must be provided.

In addition, progressive development of education, health systems, infrastructure, power, and telecommunications capability is required.

Israel spurns its obligations. Homes, factories, infrastructure, commercial and government buildings, and other facilities have been destroyed and not rebuilt.

Fundamental human rights are denied, including to life, health, and adequate food, clothing and housing. Health, of course, includes physical and mental well-being.

UN Charter Articles 55 and 56 require Israel to promote higher living standards, and conditions of economic and social progress and development.

Israel violates all its obligations under international law. Gazans suffer enormously. Blockade was imposed for political and economic reasons. Israel admitted it wasn't for security reasons.

It claimed justification for economic warfare, saying:

"(D)amaging the enemy's economy is in and of itself a legitimate means in warfare and a relevant consideration even while deciding to allow the entry of relief consignments."

International law prohibits collective punishment. Israeli aggression violates UN Charter provisions. Gaza's blockade was institutionalized. Doing so constitutes criminally assaulting a civilian population for purposes of control and denying it fundamental rights.

A new Save the Children Foundation/Medical Aid Foundation report called Gaza's water unfit for human consumption. It's contaminated with chemical manure and waste water.

Children are gravely impacted. Water related illness, including diarrhea and dysentery, doubled in the last five years. Israel bears full responsibility.

Israel bombed coastal area sewage systems and denies construction materials, equipment, and parts to rebuild them properly.

Israel promised to ease Gaza restrictions. No meaningful improvement of life followed. Fundamental rights are denied. Blockade conditions are enforced.

Air and ground assaults occur regularly. A new study said drone attacks terrorize Gazans. They patrol night and day. Their engine noise is audible on the ground.

Gazans call them "zanana" because of their distinctive buzz. They affect sleep. Children are traumatized. Gazans are attacked and killed. No one knows who next will be harmed.

A state of war exists. Crimes are committed. Civilians suffer. Nothing changes. Gazans blogger Rawan Yaghi explained her angst as follows:

"Hi droning drone,

you know what: you've become a real friend of mine. I swore at you. I spit at you. You keep me awake. You have actually been talking to me all day long."

"Well, to be honest my friend, I tried to ignore you by using my headphones and watching TV. But you wouldn't quit, would you? Well, congratulations you've broke the record you've made more than one million friends in less than two days. Take good buzz of yourself."

A Final Comment

On June 14, a Civil Peace Service Gaza press release said an Israeli warship attacked international observers, a journalist, and CPSGAZA's Palestinian Oliva vessel captain "in an attempt to harm the crew members and threaten them with arrest."

Italian observer Rosa Schiano said:

"We were behind the buoy that Israel put out at sea to mark the three mile limit and they attacked us with heavy water cannons for half an hour, chasing us towards the northen nautical border."

"Then they accused us of crossing the border, when they had forcibly chased us in that direction."

Oliva was within three nautical miles of Gaza's coast. Israel's warship circled, chased, and attacked it with heavy water cannon fire. The vessel filled dangerously. It could have sunk. The crew said it posed no danger. A soldier replied "(s)hut up."

Israelis ordered Oliva to shut its motor. Crew members were told to stand in the front of the boat. They asked if they were being arrested. In reply, they were told "(w)e'll take all of you."

Finally, they were allowed to leave with a warning, saying "(n)ext time we won't be as nice, if you know what I mean."

CPSGAZA's land team said Israel's navy attacked Palestinian fishermen at the same time Oliva was assaulted. They "were targeted with live gunfire and wake washed."

Israel does it regularly. Contempt for human rights and safety is policy. Life in Occupation Palestine is brutish, harsh and unsafe.

In Gaza, no one knows from day to day who'll live or die. Nothing is done to end human suffering. When will it end, people ask?

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

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"


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.

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the beatdown goes on Isn't it Obvious? Sunday, Jun. 17, 2012 at 2:27 AM
Some snapshots from gaza ALAH Monday, Jul. 02, 2012 at 10:03 AM
more snapshots from gaza ALAH Monday, Jul. 02, 2012 at 10:04 AM
More snapshots from gaza ALAH Monday, Jul. 02, 2012 at 10:08 AM
more BS from our 'friends' israeli hogwash Monday, Jul. 02, 2012 at 5:43 PM
Copyright:pauline beugnies 3Dec2009 Gaza Monday, Jul. 02, 2012 at 6:08 PM
Photos taken June 2012 Nihaya Monday, Jul. 02, 2012 at 6:51 PM
Views from gaza Views from gaza Monday, Jul. 02, 2012 at 6:53 PM
photos from gaza photos from gaza Monday, Jul. 02, 2012 at 6:54 PM
more photos from gaza more photos from gaza Monday, Jul. 02, 2012 at 6:57 PM
just like the others... No Date Stamp on Google Earth? Monday, Jul. 02, 2012 at 7:29 PM
got to be kidding Another pic Tuesday, Jul. 03, 2012 at 2:06 AM
five years of resistance and survival Deathcamp Palestine Saturday, Jul. 07, 2012 at 10:19 AM
Yea,really..... Lord Locksley Saturday, Jul. 07, 2012 at 12:52 PM
sure they do Deathcamp Palestine Saturday, Jul. 07, 2012 at 1:03 PM
Potemkin concentration camp just like the nazis Sunday, Jul. 08, 2012 at 12:14 PM
thank you, "just like the nazis" Spoink-Deathcamp Palestine Sunday, Jul. 08, 2012 at 1:53 PM
This is the real gaza This is the real gaza Monday, Jul. 09, 2012 at 10:56 AM
real gaza real gaza Monday, Jul. 09, 2012 at 10:57 AM
it's amazing how stupid they think we are beyond photoshop! Monday, Jul. 09, 2012 at 11:46 AM
more children gone wrong Israeli elementry school Monday, Jul. 09, 2012 at 11:49 AM
more 'proof' Another terrorist! Monday, Jul. 09, 2012 at 12:03 PM
House demolitions BY HAMAS free Gaza from Hamas Monday, Jul. 09, 2012 at 2:31 PM
something here is Questionable Home Demo Monday, Jul. 09, 2012 at 2:40 PM
NOT EVEN FROM ISRAEL LIARS Tuesday, Jul. 10, 2012 at 8:12 PM
oh brother! Are U Stupid? Tuesday, Jul. 10, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Wrong Wrong Wednesday, Jul. 11, 2012 at 5:04 AM
water soup, huh? Where? Wednesday, Jul. 11, 2012 at 6:22 AM
propaganda photos propaganda photos Wednesday, Jul. 11, 2012 at 7:32 AM
Gaza kindergarten graduation Gaza Kindergarten graduation Wednesday, Jul. 11, 2012 at 7:42 AM
haw beyond photoshop! Wednesday, Jul. 11, 2012 at 9:06 AM
no "photoshop" in 1970 Palestinian child soldiers Thursday, Jul. 12, 2012 at 5:55 PM
seen it before how about this? Friday, Jul. 13, 2012 at 2:08 AM
Propaganda 101 Israeeli S.O.P. Friday, Jul. 13, 2012 at 8:48 AM
Let's review, shall we ? izzraelis are the new nazis Friday, Jul. 13, 2012 at 1:48 PM
forgot one thing Nihaya Friday, Jul. 13, 2012 at 2:14 PM
"thats some genocide" people of iron Friday, Jul. 13, 2012 at 3:53 PM
Nonsense nonsense Friday, Jul. 13, 2012 at 8:08 PM
the previous statement by the ministry of truth Over Flowing Denial Saturday, Jul. 14, 2012 at 1:57 AM
Gaza Obesity rate hovers between 30 and 40% Its israel's fault Saturday, Jul. 14, 2012 at 6:56 PM
UNbelievable haw Sunday, Jul. 15, 2012 at 3:29 AM
Seriously? The electronic intifada? Sunday, Jul. 15, 2012 at 5:17 AM
yes, and the WHO can't read? Sunday, Jul. 15, 2012 at 5:54 AM
UNICEF paints a different picture UNICEF Monday, Jul. 16, 2012 at 6:26 AM
Oh, really... where is it? Monday, Jul. 16, 2012 at 8:16 AM
Here we go Palestinians stunting Monday, Jul. 16, 2012 at 9:07 AM
one small problem circa 2008 before OCL Monday, Jul. 16, 2012 at 2:38 PM
2012 is even lower. still wrong Monday, Jul. 16, 2012 at 3:32 PM
2005 is the year still wrong Monday, Jul. 16, 2012 at 3:42 PM
oh yeah? Offer of Proof? -sigh- Monday, Jul. 16, 2012 at 3:44 PM
as for the SEVEN years of Blockade Backwards Again? Monday, Jul. 16, 2012 at 4:56 PM
It was from 2011 here we go Monday, Jul. 16, 2012 at 6:55 PM
reporters are allowed into Gaza from the UN Tuesday, Jul. 17, 2012 at 1:46 AM
2008. 2008. Tuesday, Jul. 17, 2012 at 4:23 AM
my my, how four years changes things huge improvement from 2008! Tuesday, Jul. 17, 2012 at 7:21 AM
Thats from 2009 still wrong Tuesday, Jul. 17, 2012 at 8:18 AM
so much better now food flowing in Tuesday, Jul. 17, 2012 at 11:01 AM
so much change in 5 star Gaza even better now Tuesday, Jul. 17, 2012 at 11:13 AM
The new Gaza Metro mart The New Gaza metro mart Tuesday, Jul. 17, 2012 at 2:55 PM
more photos from the new Gaza metro mart gaza metro mart Tuesday, Jul. 17, 2012 at 2:57 PM
Still more photos from the Gaza metro mart Gaza metro mart Tuesday, Jul. 17, 2012 at 2:59 PM
OMG! more ambiguous photos israel sez.... Tuesday, Jul. 17, 2012 at 3:26 PM
Visit Gaza Sun sea and Hamas Thursday, Jul. 19, 2012 at 5:04 AM
visit Gaza but keep your head down Visit Gaza Thursday, Jul. 19, 2012 at 10:26 AM
gaza stores filled with Sweets and toys The real Gaza Sunday, Jul. 22, 2012 at 6:43 AM
so much sugar Sugar Glazed Turds? Sunday, Jul. 22, 2012 at 7:43 AM
In pictures: Ramadan in Gaza's old quarter from the BBC Tuesday, Jul. 31, 2012 at 5:37 PM
" From the very anti-israel BBC" A good one Tuesday, Jul. 31, 2012 at 10:35 PM
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