Monday, July 17, 2006

Gaza in tatters

/ Stripping Gaza /
If one notes what the UN Special Rapporteur on OPT reported on his visit (21 June 2006), it seems the kidnap of the Israeli soldier by the Palestinians in Gaza wasn't an act out of the blue, but a response to daily Israeli practices:

Gaza is under siege. Israel controls its airspace and has resumed sonic booms which terrorize and traumatize its people. The targeted killing of militants is on the increase. Inevitably, as in the past, such killings have resulted in the killing and wounding of innocent bystanders. Israel also controls Gaza's territorial sea and fires missiles into the territory from ships at sea. The no-go area along the border of Gaza has been extended to some 500-600 metres to enable the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) to prevent the firing of Qassam rockets by Palestinian militants. IDF policy now allows it to fire shells up to 100 metres from civilian houses. Within Gaza, medical services have been seriously affected by the prohibition on the funding of medical equipment and medical supplies managed by the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. The non-payment of salaries to Palestinian Authority employees has affected both hospitals and schools as employees cannot afford to travel to work. Unemployment and poverty are on the increase. After a long period of closure of the Karni commercial crossing, this crossing has been re-opened but it still processes only a limited number of trucks with the result that Gaza is still short of basic foodstuffs and is unable to export its produce.

Human rights violations in the West Bank have also intensified. The construction of the Wall continues to impact severely on human rights. In farming areas, lands are being abandoned in the closed zone (the area between the Wall and the Green Line) as farmers are denied permits to farm their land. Families both within the closed zone and its precincts have been substantially impoverished as a result. The impact of the Wall is no less severe in the cities. The Wall in Jerusalem divides Palestinian neighbourhoods and in so doing separates families who hold different identity documents. The law prohibiting Israeli Arab spouses from co-habiting with their West Bank and Gaza Palestinian spouses has further damaged family life. Travel into and out of Jerusalem has become a nightmare for Palestinians as a result of new travel restrictions.

However more importantly the abduction of an Israeli soldier in Gaza happenned two days after Israel invaded the Gaza strip to abduct two Palestinian civilians, who were charged with being... "Hamas members", that is members of the legally elected governing party in the Palestinian Territories.

In fact, despite protestations to the contrary there was a low level war going on in Gaza, as soon as Hamas was elected - as the UN situation report made clear, this past April. They noted that:

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have fired more than 2,300 artillery and tank shells into the Gaza Strip since 29 March, more than 150 shells a day. This intensified IDF shelling comes as Palestinians over the same period fired more than 67 home made rockets (around 5/day) and an alleged Katyusha rocket (a longer range rocket) that was found south of Ashqelon on 28 March.

The shelling has been concentrated in the northern Gaza Strip – As Siafa in the northwest, Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun in the north/northeast and areas east of Jabalia camp in the north and Gaza City.

Over the same period, the Israel Air Force (IAF) launched 34 missiles inside the Gaza Strip targeting wanted people, buildings, roads and other infrastructure.

Seventeen Palestinians have been killed, among them two children in artillery shelling and missile strikes since 29 March. One was a five-year-old boy, killed together with his father when an IAF aircraft targeted a training base used by Palestinian militants in Rafah on 7 April. An eight-year-old girl was killed and eight children from her family injured when an artillery shell hit her family's house in Beit Lahia on 10 April.

At least 62 Palestinians have been injured, including one woman and 11 children. One Israeli was also injured after a home made rocket was fired from inside the Gaza Strip and landed south of Ashqelon on 6 April.

The continuous firing of artillery shells and launching of IAF missiles are causing immense psycho-social strain on the Gaza population, especially on children. There are also additional risks from unexploded shells, particularly Palestinian farmers and shepherds and for children playing in the fields. Residents of As Siafa, for instance, reported that 15 shells out of a total of 200 that landed in the area in the three days from 30 March to 1 April, have not exploded.

So the rape of Gaza is continuing, even now that the world's attention has shifted over to Lebanon:

Southern Gaza is in TOTAL DARKNESS. Three quarters of the television frame is PITCH BLACK while northern Gaza has a few lights. About an hour ago, Israel bombed with F-16's the only power station left in Khan Younes plunging it in TOTAL DARKNESS too.

Do you know what it means to be without electricity for 10 days in today's world??? No water, no sewage, no cooling, no storing of whatever food is left, no communication... etc. As though this were not sufficient for those poor Palestinians, tonight, like every night, Israel has been bombing and sending missiles into Gaza and flying over it all night with sonic booms to scare the people and especially the children who are totally terrified.

Yesterday a one and a half year old child died in an awful way of injuries sustained by Israeli bombing and mainstream media instead of covering it, is allowing a terrorist like Ehud Olmert to take the microphone and tell the world that Israel never targets civilians. It has been 10 days now and all Israel has done is target civilians and kill dozens!

Finally, a statement regarding Gaza from the Communist Party of Israel...

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