< HOME  Sunday, March 19, 2006

Gaza: Starving for "Security"

Since most Americans only know Gaza through the lens of the mainstream media and their constant references to suicide attacks against Israel launched from within it and the West Bank, a brief introduction is in order.

Gaza is a 360 square kilometer strip of land on the Mediterranean coast between Egypt and Israel (roughly twice the size of Washington D.C.). It's inhabited by 1.5 million Palestinians and, until last September, much of the prime real estate in Gaza was occupied by Israeli settlers surrounded by a myriad of checkpoints, road blocks, private roads and buffer zones.

(To the left is a map of Gaza before the unilateral Israeli disengagement. Below is a map of Gaza after disengagement.)

Post-disengagement, everything Israeli is gone, save a "buffer zone" surrounding the Israeli border of Gaza, which amounts to about 9 square kilometers, or 2.5 percent of the entire Gaza strip. (see, p. 6 of UN Humanitarian Update, Nov-Dec. 2005 (PDF)).

The entire Gaza border remains totally sealed. No one can enter or exit without going through 4 major crossings heavily guarded by Israelis. The biggest and most important crossing is Karni, located on the northwestern border.
"Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited."--Article 54 of Protocol 1 of 1977 Additional to the Geneva Convention
Nevertheless, since 14 January 2006, Israelis have closed Karni crossing 47 separate days completely and 4 days partially.

During partial closures, Palestinians are allowed to import basic foodstuffs only. Medicines and others goods are banned. NOTHING is allowed to cross during complete closures.

As a result, local markets have run out of milk, flour, sugar, dairy products and fruits, leaving Palestinians on the verge of starvation.

Similarly, agricultural and industrial exports from Gaza are banned. Indeed, all Palestinian exports go through Karni. Therefore, their livelihoods are on hold. This is in addition to withholding taxes and aid.

Also since February, Israelis have closed Sofa crossing, northeast of Rafah, designated for importing construction materials into Gaza. As a result, construction projects in Gaza have also stopped.

Palestinian workers cannot reach their work places inside Israel through Erez crossing in the north. And, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from Gaza, including newly elected members of the Legislative Council, especially those from Hamas, have been prevented from traveling through Karni crossing.

Essentially, Israelis have Gaza under lock down. This not only violates international law, but also it breaches an agreement brokered by Condoleezza Rice in November...
[under which] Israel and the Palestinians agreed to boost cargo traffic through the crossing.
The accord was meant to give momentum to peace efforts and economic recovery programs after Israel's [September] pullout from Gaza.

But the Karni deal was never implemented, and Israel has closed the crossing for long periods, citing security concerns.

"The only reason Karni is closed is the definite terror warnings." [Israel]
But, is this true? And even if it's true, that's no reason to starve an entire population.

Imagine for a moment, that instead of Gaza, Washington D.C. was occupied territory (shouldn't be too hard). Your ancestors had lived there from time immemorial and you had never been any place else.

Then one day some belligerent squatters from neighboring Virginia forced their way on to your land, dispossessing you and your neighbors in the name of an ancient promise given them by their lord.

For decades, they occupied your finest real estate, consumed most of the resources, lived plushly in luxurious villas and moved around freely, armed and dangerous.

Meanwile, your days were marked by long queues at multiple checkpoints, daily military raids, and targeted assassinations of anyone in your community who showed potential for leadership or signs of resistance.

They routinely uprooted your olive groves, demolished your houses, shot down your children and neighbors with impunity, and generally made your life a living hell, reducing your community to abject poverty and desperation.

Finally, after decades of armed struggle and failed negotiations, they decide that it's no longer advantageous for them to continue occupying your land - too much of a hassle. So, they unilaterally "disengage," and are paid handsomely to relocate to another illegal settlement at your aunt's village fifteen miles up the road.

No sooner do they get their last man across the border, than they launch massive military attacks against what remains of your people.

How would you like that? And, how would you respond?

The answer is self-evident. Yet, Israelis feign indignation at Palestinians who fight back with whatever they've got.

Israelis claim that they've closed this vital trade crossing since January because they've received "definite terror threats." However, the decision to keep the crossing closed followed Hamas' electoral victory. But, that's just coincidence.

Security is their sole impetus, they say, and they're ready to let Palestinians starve in the process of ensuring it.

So, let's look at the security situation. The following table shows attacks by each side against the other since the disengagement in September, according to a December 2005 UN report:
First, notice how attacks by Palestinians are labeled "Militant" while attacks by Israelis are not. The facts otherwise speak volumes.

Not one Israeli was killed in Palestinian attacks, while 33 Palestinians were killed in Israeli attacks. The number injured are similarly disproportionate, and while Palestinians launched a relatively large number of low impact attacks with home-made weapons, Israelis used sophisticated, high tech weapons to launch attacks calculated to seriously harm or kill large numbers of Palestinians.

It seems fairly obvious from this picture who needs protection from whom. Yet, the international community barely flinch as Israelis continue their collective punishment of Palestinians based on the pretense of "security."

Not until Palestinians were on the verge of starvation, did the US step in to broker an agreement to avoid humanitarian crisis and international outcry.

During Karni's closure, Palestinians had rejected an Israeli offer to open Kerem Shalom, 25 miles south of Karni, as an alternative crossing. (The map below shows how far Kerem Shalom is from Karni.) Palestinians said it was too small, and is completely inside Israeli territory with no sufficient link to Gaza.

But, yesterday the two parties agreed that today Kerem Shalom might open for imports of food and other essential humanitarian products from Egypt, while talks to open a second crossing would continue.

No mention of when the blockade of Palestinian exports will end (and their means of living restored), or when the vital Karni crossing would be opened. How's that for even-handed brokering?

Palestinians continue to suffer for Israeli 'security.'


At Monday, March 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I orginally came to your site looking for personal finance tips and ideas because I am a writer for Debt Eliminator 101 and also post blogs about money and finance. However, I was intrigued by your article about Gaza. Not knowing much about the situation, your article was very informative, although seemingly one-sided. I have a couple of questions. First, your tally of injuries/deaths in the conflict seems to leave out Israelis killed in suicide bombings. Is this because there haven't been any since the September disengagement? I can't remember....Second, what do you think of Israel opening up a passage to Gaza today to help with conditions? I thought I saw something in the news about that this morning. Anyways, thanks for the info!


At Monday, March 20, 2006, Blogger qrswave said...

Sharon, welcome. My blog's main purpose is to expose the fraud of our interest based, fractional reserve monetary system. But, on occasion I can't help but inform readers about other very compelling world events, especially those that so deeply affect American interests.

People are suffering in Gaza every minute, the US is blamed for their continued support of Israel, despite these appalling policies, and the media offers a very myopic and self-interested view of the picture.

I concede that my presentation of the facts reflects poorly on Israelis. But if it seems one-sided, it's because I assume readers already know too well the impact on Israeli civilians, which is repeated often in the news.

The figures are compiled in a UN report which is linked in the post. There appears to have been no suicide attacks since the disengagement.

What do I think of the opening of the crossing today? Does it help conditions? Yes. But, these are conditions Israelis created.

And from the information above, it seems apparent that the passage opened today is a small channel far from the main crossing relied upon by most Palestinians.

It's opening is unlikely to have a significant impact in relieving the crisis.

At Monday, March 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You cannot seperate warfare from economic warfare.

A sad sobbing ensues.

At Monday, March 20, 2006, Blogger qrswave said...

Sadly, ruby, it's always been and still is all about land, power, and control. And money serves as a perfect conduit for concentrating it.

But, not because most people want inordinate amounts of money - simply because those few in control of the money supply can just never get enough power and they just don't care about anyone else or the planet.

Law for them has nothing to do with justice, it's merely one means by which they get the upper hand.

At Monday, March 20, 2006, Blogger Unknown said...

The Israelis assassinated Sheikh Yassin. Yesterday his picture was emblazoned as the backdrop to Haniya - on worldwide televisions.

You can't kill nations or heros. You can only make them stronger.

I do not argue with Zionists any more. The real Jews among them remember David&Goliath and Jews&Hitler. The fake ones can serve as the fodder for the history of oppression as it is being written in our times.

At Monday, March 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget this:

The team, headed by the prime minister's advisor Dov Weissglas and including the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, the director of the Shin Bet and senior generals and officials, convened for a discussion with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on ways to respond to the Hamas election victory. Everyone agreed on the need to impose an economic siege on the Palestinian Authority, and Weissglas, as usual, provided the punch line: "It's like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner, but won't die," the advisor joked, and the participants reportedly rolled with laughter. And, indeed, why not break into laughter and relax when hearing such a successful joke? If Weissglas tells the joke to his friend Condoleezza Rice, she would surely laugh too.

There is something profoundly sick at the heart of a government that can find amusement in a policy of deliberately starving some of the poorest people on earth.

At Monday, March 20, 2006, Blogger qrswave said...

Thanks for the link Anon; some people are very very sick. But, their day will come.

Akber, do you have a link of the picture of Haniyeh you refer to?

I try not to argue with zionists too. But, occasionally you must, just to expose the cruelty and oppression for which they stand.

At Tuesday, March 21, 2006, Blogger qrswave said...

They opened Karni Crossing Monday, March 20.

They could no longer handle the mounting political pressure. Thank God!

At Tuesday, March 21, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it comes as no surprise two “of America’s top scholars,” having released an article criticizing the hijacking of American foreign policy by AIPAC, the neocons, and the tiny outlaw state of Israel, are unable to get a hearing in the corporate media. John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard’s Kenney School “say that [AIPAC] is so strong that they doubt their article would be accepted in any U.S.-based publication,” reports United Press International. “They claim that the Israel lobby has distorted American policy and operates against American interests, that it has organized the funneling of more than $140 billion dollars to Israel and ‘has a stranglehold’ on the U.S. Congress, and its ability to raise large campaign funds gives its vast influence over Republican and Democratic administrations, while its role in Washington think tanks on the Middle East dominates the policy debate.”

Mearsheimer and Walt come close to stating what many of us have known for some time—a clique of Straussian neocons, wedded to radical Likudites in Israel, and share “close ties to pro-Israel groups like JINSA (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) or WINEP (Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy),” exploited nine eleven to “adopt the general goal of ousting Saddam” and push forward “preventive war,” that is to say invasions of sovereign Muslim and Arab nations, a plan long in the tooth and at the heart of Likudite Zionism. Unfortunately, the authors do not arrive at the natural conclusion—not only did the neocons exploit nine eleven, they orchestrated it from within the Pentagon, as a previous cabal of Pentagon insiders, including the Joint Chiefs, attempted to create an earlier nine eleven by way of Operation Northwoods. Fortunately for the American and Cuban people, that earlier plan was eighty-sixed by Robert McNamara and John F. Kennedy. No such luck with nine eleven.

Mearsheimer and Walt name names—Elliot Abrams, John Bolton, Douglas Feith, William Kristol, Bernard Lewis, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, key members of the inner circle of the neocon clique. It is interesting a name not normally associated with the neocons is mentioned—Bernard Lewis. It was the elderly “Arabist” Lewis who urged “Lebanonization” in the Arab and Muslim Middle East. “In 1992, in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War, Lewis celebrated in the pages of the New York Council on Foreign Relations’ Foreign Affairs that the era of the nation-state in the Middle East had come to an inglorious end, and the entire region should expect to go through a prolonged period of ‘Lebanonization’—i.e., degeneration into fratricidal, parochialist violence and chaos,” write Scott Thompson and Jeffrey Steinberg.

“Lebanonization” is a reference to the implementation of the Sykes-Picot Agreement by the French under the League of Nations in the 1920s, dividing Lebanon into five provinces based along ethnic and religious lines. Of course, this artificial construct eventually resulted in a bloody civil war between Lebanese Christians and Muslims, exacerbated by the Israeli lebensraum policy of ethnically cleansing Palestinians (this conflict resulted in the death of over a 100,000 people and created 900,000 refugees), and was intensified and prolonged by an Israeli invasion and political and military participation by the United States.

Lewis concluded his Foreign Affairs article by predicting the “Lebanonization” of the entire region with the notable exception of Israel: “Most of the states of the Middle East … are of recent and artificial construction and are vulnerable to such a process. If the central power is sufficiently weakened, there is no real civil society to hold the polity together, no real sense of common national identity or overriding allegiance to the nation-state. The state then disintegrates—as happened in Lebanon—into a chaos of squabbling, feuding, fighting sects, tribes, regions and parties,” a process well underway at this moment in Iraq.

“For the past several decades, and especially since the Six-Day War in 1967, the centerpiece of US Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel,” Mearsheimer and Walt continue. “The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread ‘democracy’ throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardized not only U.S. security but that of much of the rest of the world. This situation has no equal in American political history. Why has the U.S. been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state?”

It is a situation, the authors conclude, created by the influence of AIPAC, an organization representing the Jabotinsky-Likudite faction in Israel. According to Thompson and Steinberg, Bernard Lewis’ son, Michael, is “the director of the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee’s super-secret ‘opposition research section.’ This is one of the most important wellsprings of propaganda and disinformation, presently saturating the U.S. Congress and American media with war-cries for precisely the Clash of Civilizations Bernard Lewis has been promoting for decades.” Defecting AIPAC staffer Gregory Slabodkin told the Washington Report in 1992 that AIPAC’s secret “opposition research section” concentrates on “releasing derogatory (and generally false or misleading) information about American ‘enemies of Israel’ to their rivals in the media and academia.”

Israel “works ruthlessly to suppress questioning of its role, to blacken its critics and to crush serious debate about the wisdom of supporting Israel in U.S. public life,” the UPI summarizes the not destined for prime-time conclusions of Mearsheimer and Walt.

“Not surprisingly, the Jewish establishment organizations are lining up behind Aipac and not too subtly rolling out the traditional big guns by suggesting that the accusations themselves might be motivated by anti-Semitism,” writes Michael Lerner. “Aipac and a variety of closely linked Jewish organizations regularly use the anti-Semitism card to attack anyone who dares criticize the occupation of the West Bank. Increasingly dominated by Jewish neo-cons and their worldview, the Jewish establishment has moved far to the right in the past two decades, spurred in part by Aipac’s powerful impact.”

As we know, the neocon “worldview” is one of endless conflict and misery abroad and subversion of American ideals at home. The Straussian neocons—and it is important to stress the Straussian aspect with its Machiavellian philosophy and fascist ideology taking cues from the authoritarian idealism of a Nazi jurist, Carl Schmitt—are decidedly behind schedule on implementing the next phase of their master plan, gleaned in part from Oded Yinon’s “A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s”, of attacking and balkanizing Iran.

Once again, Bush reminds us of the tight relationship between Israel’s territorial aspirations and its connection to the military prowess (now in obvious decline) of the United States. “The threat from Iran is, of course, their stated objective to destroy our strong ally Israel. That’s a threat, a serious threat. It’s a threat to world peace,” said our Caesar. “I made it clear, and I’ll make it clear again, that we will use military might to protect our ally Israel.”

In fact, this is the only approach, as long ago sketched out by the Straussian neocons and their Jabotinksyite overlords, and diplomacy is but a shell game introduced to make the neocons appear reasonable, when in fact they are neo-Jacobin radicals. Bush’s neocons, in control of the Pentagon, plan to eventually attack Iran, certainly not this month as initially speculated, but some time down the road, maybe this summer, maybe next year, but eventually, as the Straussian neocons, the anti-American AIPAC, and the reprehensible Israeli Jabotinskyite racists have long planned, even if it results in the ultimate destruction of America.


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