israeli government documents show deliberate policy to keep Gazans at near-starvation levels
By Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News
Documents whose existence were denied by the Israeli government for over a year have been released after a legal battle led by Israeli human rights group Gisha. The documents reveal a deliberate policy by the Israeli government in which the dietary needs for the population of Gaza are chillingly calculated, and the amounts of food let in by the Israeli government measured to remain just enough to keep the population alive at a near-starvation level. This documents the statement made by a number of Israeli officials that they are "putting the people of Gaza on a diet".
In 2007, when Israel began its full siege on Gaza, Dov Weisglass, adviser to then Prime-Minister Ehud Olmert, stated clearly, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” The documents now released contain equations used by the Israeli government to calculate the exact amounts of food, fuel and other necessities needed to do exactly that.
The documents are even more disturbing, say human rights activists, when one considers the fact that close to half of the people of Gaza are children under the age of eighteen. This means that Israel has deliberately forced the undernourishment of hundreds of thousands of children in direct violation of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.
This release of documents also severely undermines Israel's oft-made claim that the siege is "for security reasons", as it documents a deliberate and systematic policy of collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza.
Gisha's director said, in relation to the release of documents, "Israel banned glucose for biscuits and the fuel needed for regular supply of electricity – paralyzing normal life in Gaza and impairing the moral character of the State of Israel. I am sorry to say that major elements of this policy are still in place."
In its statement accompanying the release of the documents, Gisha wrote:
The documents reveal that the state approved "a policy of deliberate reduction" for basic goods in the Gaza Strip (section h.4, page 5*). Thus, for example, Israel restricted the supply of fuel needed for the power plant, disrupting the supply of electricity and water. The state set a "lower warning line" (section g.2, page 5) to give advance warning of expected shortages in a particular item, but at the same time approved ignoring that warning, if the good in question was subject to a policy of "deliberate reduction". Moreover, the state set an "upper red line" above which even basic humanitarian items could be blocked, even if they were in demand (section g.1, page 5). The state claimed in a cover letter to Gisha that in practice, it had not authorized reduction of "basic goods" below the "lower warning line", but it did not define what these "basic goods" were.
Commentator Richard Silverstein wrote: "In reviewing the list of permitted items for import, you come to realize that these are the only items allowed. In other words, if an item is not on the list, it’s prohibited. So, for example, here is the list of permitted spices: Black pepper, soup powder, hyssop, sesame. cinnamon, anise, babuna (chamomile), sage. Sorry, cumin, basil, bay leaf, allspice, carraway, cardamon, chiles, chives, cilantro, cloves, garlic, sesame, tamarind, thyme, oregano, cayenne. Not on the list. You're not a spice Palestinians need according to some IDF dunderhead. And tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, toys, glassware, paint, and shoes? You can forget about them too. Luxuries all, or else security threats."
Despite the disturbing nature of the documents, which show a calculated policy of deliberate undernourishment of an entire population, no major media organizations have reported the story.
The full text of the released documents, and the original Freedom of Information Act request filed by Gisha, can be found on
A massive evacuation force, comprising over 5,000 policemen, tractors, and ambulances, descended on the town late Saturday.
Thousands of the city's residents reportedly clashed with Israeli officers who returned tear gas fire and arrest protesters. Israeli Police forces then moved to demolish the structure.
Rahat mayor, Faiz Abu Sahiban, condemned the act, saying it was a direct offense against all Muslims, saying that the "police should act responsibly and use its discretion."
The act was a "flagrant violation" of Rahat's jurisdiction, Sahiban said. "
The Rahat municipality called for a general strike in wake of the demolition, as residents on Sunday began rebuilding the demolished mosque.
"If they continue to destroy it, we will rebuild the mosque over and over again," said Yusuf Abu Jama, leader of the northern branch of the Isalmic Movement in Rahat which had built the mosque during the Gaza war, in late 2008 and early 2009.
"No we are unified, the northern branch and the southern branch [of the Islamic movement]. Today, Arab people from all over the country will come to show their solidarity."