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What life (and death) is like in Gaza

israel_political_map

It is only 140 square miles and contains 1.8 million people, making it one of the most densely populated places on Earth. It is very small, similar in size and population density to Philadelphia, one of the biggest cities in the US. It is a narrow rectangular strip. The northern, eastern, and western borders are blockaded by Israel and the southern edge by Egypt. It is essentially a large, densely populated open-air ‘prison camp’ (as British prime minister David Cameron described it in 2010), which is why it is cynical when Israel, in its widely-publicized attempts at showing its ‘humanity’ while bombing Palestinians, urges people in northern Gaza to evacuate because they are going to bomb the region. That region alone has 200,000 people. Where are they supposed to go? Unlike the victims of violence in other countries, they cannot flee to a neighboring country. They are trapped and so must stay where they are and hope that they will not be blasted to bits. [Update: The original map has been replaced with new a one that is more accurate. Thanks to the commenters for pointing out the errors.]

The scope of Israeli control over the daily life of Gaza is breathtaking. Israel collects the taxes and import duties on items that they allow into Gaza and then has control over when and how much it releases those revenues to the authorities in Gaza, who need that money to provide services to the residents. Israel repeatedly uses that money as weapon, by withholding revenues to ‘punish’ Gaza for whatever reason.

Israel controls almost everything and everyone that goes in and out of Gaza, restricting the flow of things that we would take for granted. Although the list changes from time to time and is not officially provided by Israel, here are some of the things that were prohibited in 2010:

The UN relief agency for Palestinian refugees Unrwa’s list of household items that have been refused entry at various times includes light bulbs, candles, matches, books, musical instruments, crayons, clothing, shoes, mattresses, sheets, blankets, pasta, tea, coffee, chocolate, nuts, shampoo and conditioner.

The amount of cooking gas allowed in has generally fluctuated between about a third and a half of requirements, Oxfam figures show.

Since early 2008, the power plant has received enough fuel to operate at only about two-thirds of its capacity – in line with an Israeli Supreme Court ruling which set a minimum amount of fuel that Israel must allow into Gaza.

Restrictions on construction materials, particularly cement, and spare parts for machinery, have had a big impact on projects ranging from water treatment to grave digging. Reconstruction of buildings and infrastructure destroyed in the 2009 Israeli operations in Gaza has been virtually impossible.

To read even the partial list of restrictions is to marvel at it and realize that Israel treats the people of Gaza as if they are prisoners to whom basic necessities are carefully doled out.

But that is not all. In 2006, soon after Hamas won the elections in Gaza, Dov Weinglass, advisor to then Israeli prime minister Ehud Ohlmert said, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” Israel has proven that ‘putting them on a diet’ was not just hyperbole but a deliberate strategy to keep the population malnourished and that they have cynically carried that policy out, depriving nearly two million of people of basic necessities. Keeping people hungry and malnourished in order to make them submissive and to sap their will is an old strategy.

Health officials provided calculations of the minimum number of calories needed by Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants to avoid malnutrition. Those figures were then translated into truckloads of food Israel was supposed to allow in each day.

The Israeli media have tried to present these chilling discussions, held in secret, in the best light possible. Even the liberal Haaretz newspaper euphemistically described this extreme form of calorie-counting as designed to “make sure Gaza didn’t starve.”

But a rather different picture emerges as one reads the small print. While the health ministry determined that Gazans needed daily an average of 2,279 calories each to avoid malnutrition — requiring 170 trucks a day — military officials then found a host of pretexts to whittle down the trucks to a fraction of the original figure.

The reality was that, in this period, an average of only 67 trucks — much less than half of the minimum requirement — entered Gaza daily. This compared to more than 400 trucks before the blockade began.

When humanitarian groups in 2010 tried to break the blockade by sea and provide much-needed supplies to the people in Gaza, Israel reacted with murderous force.

Imagine if all the people of Philadelphia were treated like that, fenced in and deliberately denied the basic necessities of life in an effort to cow them into submission. Would anyone be surprised if they rose up in revolt?

Comments

  1. Ravi Venkataraman says

    It makes me very sad to see that we can treat our fellow man in this way. How can we call ourselves civilized if we subject large populations to such inhumane conditions?

    At the same time, I feel impotent about it. What can we as individuals do to alleviate the suffering of these people? Any help we may want to provide is subject to Israel’s whims, and may never reach the intended recipient.

    On a related note, if somebody is aware of these facts and still supports Israel’s actions, then they should not consider themselves to be a part of the human race.

  2. Gerard O says

    It’s good to see large protests in Britain and elsewhere over this. There has also been some diplomatic problems for the Israelis this time; the tide is turning.

  3. says

    What can we as individuals do to alleviate the suffering of these people? Any help we may want to provide is subject to Israel’s whims, and may never reach the intended recipient.

    I periodically donate money to a BDS project (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) http://www.bdsmovement.net/ that is spending money to influence corporations, financial institutions, and our government to not do business with Israel. It’s an effort that is similar to the many boycotts against South Africa in the 80s; they helped shorten the life of that state. You can and should also write letters to congresspeople telling them that you consider statements to the effect of unblinking support for Israel to be not doing their job, and that you don’t vote for people who do that. If you have investments, you can ask your financial advisor to recommend funds that are divested from Israel. Simply asking is important; it gets the question on their radar screen and – with the way financial markets work – enough people asking about such funds will cause them to come into being.

    More abstractly, if you have spare cash you can donate to Medecins Sans Frontieres, they are “the good guys” in this situation, if there are any “good guys” to be found.

    Every time a fascist like Colnagowhatsit calls you anti-semitic, donate $10 to MSF and $10 to your local BDS movement (mine is http://pennbds.org/)

  4. lorn says

    And yet … as tight as those import controls are assumed to be thousands of rockets, the longer range ones being most of three meters long and half a meter wide, weighing about a tone each, somehow get through. The calculation of what is allowed by the import controls have varied over time, controls get tighter as Hamas seems to be importing more arms, and they are established based upon estimations of what is being smuggled through. Whereas the official limit for vital supplies might be below what is practicable the smuggling makes up the difference. Of course missiles, explosives and ammunition smuggled in would tend to displace other goods, such as medical supplies, fuel and cooking oil.

    Shortages of vital goods largely represent the priorities of what to allow in through Hamas smuggling operations of arms over non-offensive goods. The shortage, of course, gives more literal, and figurative bang for the buck because children deprived of medical supplies in order to move in another 1000 kg missile are very photogenic and compelling, and entirely suitable for propaganda purposes.

    The Palistinians lost most of my sympathy when Yasser Arafat declared that his people should go home and create as many babies as possible. The flip side of genocide is out-breeding your competition. It is s cynical ploy to convert your otherwise innocent children into weapons, shields, and sources of propaganda. The open and widespread celebration of suicide bombers, kidnappers, and mothers who indoctrinate their children as such largely invalidates any claim of children killed as being “innocent” victims.

    Add to this the avowed national goal of eliminating Israel by any means necessary and the fact that children are thoroughly indoctrinated with materials which foster a view of Jews as subhuman vermin worthy of hate and annihilation, the lessons delivered from nursery school and pounded in again every year and it is fair to say that these are not your typical innocents. These are not children but hybrid creations. Child-warriors, child-martyrs, children inculcated with an abiding understanding that their primary purpose is to value the state, their religion, and Hamas more than their own hides.

    No nation, including Israel, can be required to value another nation’s children more than they do. The Palestinian leadership has historically been given the option of a genuine two-state solution and they turned it down outright. The leaders were offered help in converting their struggle into one using nonviolent means but, largely driven by personal political aspirations and external forced, who use Palestinians to keep Israel off balance, they declined. Had they used nonviolence I suspect that the issue would have been solved several decades ago.

  5. Pen says

    In the light of what lorn said @5, I’m copying part of a comment I made on Avi’s blog, based on personal observation:

    I wanted to add that I’ve been in Israel and seen what goes on to fuel the harshness with which Palestinians are treated. The media go all out to humanise Israelis and dehumanise Palestinians. When an Israeli soldier is killed you can see his or her biography hour after hour on television: parents grieving, friends, their bedroom, childhood photos, pets… In between this, Palestinian casualties are reduced to a number, always higher and quickly mentioned in passing. It’s disgraceful propaganda and devastatingly effective. Most Israelis are so used to it they don’t even see it. It’s so blatant, I’m sure it would shock any outsider. For the most part, even nicer Israelis with a normal to strong sense of justice can’t be relied on to make accurate moral decisions about their country at this point. This is a major problem and I think that only extreme pressure from outside is likely to have any impact on them at all.

    So, propaganda cutting both ways, at the very least? BTW, this: ‘These are not children but hybrid creations.’ is just such a piece of dehumanisation, extremely explicit, and utterly ironic in that Israel is virtually the new Sparta with kids doing hard core military service before they turn 20. And also, groomed in the ideology of their state and culture from the earliest age (but which of us isn’t?)

  6. Mano Singham says

    lorn,

    Are you seriously suggesting that Israel is justified in restricting imports of food and other basic goods because the Gazans are expected to smuggle what they need through the Israeli and Egyptian security cordon? It would be like depriving prisoners in jails of food and expecting them to have their friends smuggle in their needs.

    But that analogy actually holds since the Gazans are treated like prisoners.

    Deliberately depriving ordinary people of food and other basic necessities of life is a monstrous crime.

  7. Holms says

    @lorn
    And how much of that weaponry would be smuggled in in the first place, if not for the hatred they have for Israel due to Israel’s cruel policies? Why restrict their food and water in the first place?

  8. Silentbob says

    @ 5 lorn

    Add to this the avowed national goal of eliminating Israel by any means necessary and the fact that children are thoroughly indoctrinated with materials which foster a view of Jews as subhuman vermin worthy of hate and annihilation, the lessons delivered from nursery school and pounded in again every year and it is fair to say that these are not your typical innocents. These are not children but hybrid creations. Child-warriors, child-martyrs, children inculcated with an abiding understanding that their primary purpose is to value the state, their religion, and Hamas more than their own hides.

    If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were saying the children are subhuman vermin worthy of hate and annihilation.

    If what you say is true (rather than the typical dehumanization of an enemy to excuse killing them), that just makes the children doubly victims.

  9. Silentbob says

    … By the way, in my old man’s generation (WW II) it was considered honourable to value the state, your religion, and your government more than your own hide. They gave you medals for that sort of thing. Islamists aren’t the only ones to indoctrinate their children.

  10. Anton Mates says

    lorn,

    The calculation of what is allowed by the import controls have varied over time, controls get tighter as Hamas seems to be importing more arms, and they are established based upon estimations of what is being smuggled through. Whereas the official limit for vital supplies might be below what is practicable the smuggling makes up the difference. Of course missiles, explosives and ammunition smuggled in would tend to displace other goods, such as medical supplies, fuel and cooking oil.

    That makes no sense. By your own argument, the smuggling does not make up the difference, because (if you’re correct) arms are being smuggled in instead of vital goods. So how can this justify Israel prohibiting the open import of those same goods?

    The Palistinians lost most of my sympathy when Yasser Arafat declared that his people should go home and create as many babies as possible.

    Your hypocrisy is breathtaking. Aside from the fact that the Palestinians are not a hive-mind, and have children for all the same reasons that anyone else has children, Zionists have been glorifying baby-making since the 19th century. David Ben-Gurion established the Committee for Natality Problems, which recommended that Israeli families have at least four children to “make a real contribution toward the demographic revival of the nation.” In 1968, Israel established the Demographic Center, intended to encourage Jews to have as many babies as possible, “an increase in natality in Israel being crucial to the whole future of the Jewish people.”

    Every ethnic nationalist movement urges its members to outbreed the competition. Nazi Germany did it, the Israeli government does it, the Italian government does it, the Quiverfull movement does it. It doesn’t suddenly become eviller when Arabs do it.

    The flip side of genocide is out-breeding your competition.

    Uh, no, the flip side of genocide is another genocide in the opposite direction. Having children and killing children are not morally equivalent actions; that is an incredibly creepy argument to make.

    The average Mormon has a lot more kids than the average atheist in the US, but that doesn’t mean I should try to bomb Utah.

    It is s cynical ploy to convert your otherwise innocent children into weapons, shields, and sources of propaganda.

    Otherwise innocent? So being born Palestinian is an actual crime, because (as you allege) some Palestinians are having babies for reasons you don’t like?

    Add to this the avowed national goal of eliminating Israel by any means necessary and the fact that children are thoroughly indoctrinated with materials which foster a view of Jews as subhuman vermin worthy of hate and annihilation, the lessons delivered from nursery school and pounded in again every year and it is fair to say that these are not your typical innocents. These are not children but hybrid creations. Child-warriors, child-martyrs, children inculcated with an abiding understanding that their primary purpose is to value the state, their religion, and Hamas more than their own hides.

    “Hybrid creations?” Children that aren’t actually children? It doesn’t sound like it’s the Palestinians viewing their neighbors as subhuman vermin here.

    Even if you were correct that Palestinian children are especially prejudiced or ignorant or nationalist, they would still be prejudiced ignorant nationalist children who have no chance whatsoever of successfully “eliminating Israel,” especially via such nefarious tactics as playing soccer on the beach.

  11. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    This article here :

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9265051/not-enough-dead-jews/

    Israel abandoned : The anti-Semitic West almost seems to want Israelis to suffer by Melanie Phillips 19th of July 2014.

    Is perhaps the best one yet written on this current conflict and sums up why the Israelis have such a problem and why the Hamas sympathisers in the West are the biggest are so unethical and making things so much worse.

    Excerpt – but please do read the full article which is both passionately powerful and astoundingly informative and watch the youtube clip as well :

    Israel has been bombing Gaza solely to stop Hamas and its associates from trying to kill Israeli citizens. But for many in the West, the driving necessity is not to stop Hamas but to stop Israel. Moral equivalence morphs instantly into moral bankruptcy. …(snip) .. To these people, whatever Israel does to defend itself is bad. Killing Gazans is bad, warning them to flee so they won’t be killed is bad, the Iron Dome missile defence system is bad because, while Palestinians are being killed, Israelis are not. Ah yes, that’s the real outrage, isn’t it? Not enough dead Jews. How dare they defend themselves so effectively! .. (snip) … To these people, whatever Israel does to defend itself is bad. Killing Gazans is bad, warning them to flee so they won’t be killed is bad, the Iron Dome missile defence system is bad because, while Palestinians are being killed, Israelis are not. Ah yes, that’s the real outrage, isn’t it? Not enough dead Jews. How dare they defend themselves so effectively!

    Melanie Phillips asks an excellent question which I think all the Israel bashers here need to answer :

    Doesn’t the Israel-atrocity brigade ever pause to wonder why Hamas has provided no air-raid shelters for its people, while Israel has constructed a national shelter system?

    The answer tells us why the casualties are so unequally divided – and what the values especially respect for life and human rights of each side are.

    I don’t want this war. I hate to see human misery and suffering and deaths.

    Israel doesn’t want this war – it does all it can to try and avoid even Palestinian misery, suffering and deaths.

    Hamas, OTOH, does want war and has kept firing rockets at unarmed civilians even when everyone else has stopped.

    That is the cause of the current life and death struggle of this latest Gazan episode of the endless Arab-Israeli war. This article is the reality that so many otherwise intelligent and compassionate commenters & a few otherwise intelligent and compassionate bloggers on FTB – not all but a sizeable faction – seem so keen to minimise, ignore and forget allowing to continue pretending that ethical black is white and vice-versa.

  12. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Where are they supposed to go? Unlike the victims of violence in other countries, they cannot flee to a neighboring country.

    Egypt – their nearest neighbour, Gaza’s former ruling nation and a fellow Muslim nation -also Yasser Arafat’s birthplace?

    Jordan – the Arab state earlier specifically carved out of and containing two thirds of the land of the former British then UN Mandate? Again, an Arab state with a virtually identical culture albeit much more moderate and westernised and a much larger Muslim nation that used to rule – but has since renounced its claims on the Palestinians of Judea and Samaria aka the West bank. (Meaning of the Jordan – essentially East Jordan.)

    Syria – the source country from which many Palestinians originated and again a massive Muslim Arab nation – albeit currently riven with civil war so perhaps not the first choice – although Hamas could no doubt happily go and join the “Islamic State” – formerly ISIS – terrorist run region of Syria and Iraq and help them create the pure Islamic Sharia law ultra-extreme Islamist “utopia” – Hamas and ISIS having essentially the same goals, desires and faith.

    That’s just three of the most obvious possibilities; there are also plenty of others. Kuwait, Quatar, Lebanon, Tunisia, Libya, etc ..The world isn’t short on Arab and Muslim nations many of which already have large palestinian populations and could have solved their refugee problem decades ago.

  13. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    To read even the partial list of restrictions is to marvel at it and realize that Israel treats the people of Gaza as if they are prisoners to whom basic necessities are carefully doled out.

    What about Egypt? How does Egypt treat them especially given the border with Egypt and the history of Egypt controlling the Gaza Strip from 1948 till 1967?

    Why not blame Egypt as much as or more than Israel here?

    Incidentally, as well as Arafat being born in Cairo, Hamas is actually an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim brotherhood Jihadist group.

  14. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @7. Mano Singham

    lorn, Are you seriously suggesting that Israel is justified in restricting imports of food and other basic goods because the Gazans are expected to smuggle what they need through the Israeli and Egyptian security cordon? It would be like depriving prisoners in jails of food and expecting them to have their friends smuggle in their needs.

    I can’t speak for lorn but I expect Israel has some idea of what Egypt smuggles in through the southern border – why shouldn’t they take that into account?

    But that analogy actually holds since the Gazans are treated like prisoners.

    Not really. How many prisons are run by the convicted felons inside and allowed to shoot rockets into the police station and homes next door? I can’t think of a single one myself.

    Deliberately depriving ordinary people of food and other basic necessities of life is a monstrous crime.

    Well yes. It certainly isn’t nice. But then a lot of poverty stricken people struggle to find life’s essentials and enough food in a lot of places such as South Sudan where I believe things are many times worse in that respect than Gaza with an ongoing famine*, the other poorer nations of Africa and Asia and South America and, well really, everywhere. Even in the affluent West many people struggle for daily essentials and starve. Of course, these people didn’t vote for Hamas or fire rockets at the people in charge of their humanitarian supplies so I tend to have a lot more sympathy for them.

    Which isn’t to say I have absolutely zero sympathy for the Palestinians especially those who are NOT Hamas or other Jihadist members – it would really really suck being in their shoes. If I was in Gaza I’d do everything I could to flee Gaza and go elsewhere. I’d also put the blame where it belongs – on Hamas – and if I could do anything to overthrow them and become free of the Hamas tyranny and brain-washing I would.

    * That hasn’t had much news coverage lately just as we seem to have forgotten about what ISSIS is doing to Iraq and the Civil War in Syria too – yet South Sudan has 50,000 children potentially starving to death because f drought and war.

  15. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    ELIZABETH JACKSON: Our Africa correspondent Martin Cuddihy has just returned from a trip to war-ravaged, South Sudan. The conflict there has disrupted supply routes and forced farmers off their land and as a result, people are starving to death. Not many Australians see starvation firsthand, but Martin did…(snip) .. When I see starving women and children, I want to help, but realise telling their story will do more help than anything I could do on the ground. Inside the local hospital, there are starving children. They lie on cheap beds with their mothers. These women are so patient. They sit there while their children slowly recover, passively staring, as if somehow accepting of the situation. I speak to some of the mothers inside and two of them admit to eating grass and leaves and nothing else. (snip) ..The UN estimates that 50,000 children (in South Sudan -ed) will starve to death by the end of the year if much needed aid doesn’t start flowing.

    Source : “Senseless starvation in South Sudan” by Martin Cuddihy (‘Correspondnts Report’, ABC online news) :

    http://www.abc.net.au/correspondents/content/2014/s4049516.htm

    How about we focus on and tell the South Sudanese story as well?

  16. John Morales says

    StevoR, your attempted spin is futile; you’d do better contending any observations provided in the OP (about the factual situation in Gaza) which you may consider erroneous than by (as you are) blithely acknowledging the situation (and its hardship and suffering) but then proceeding to assign culpability entirely to one party.

    [meta]

    PS

    How about we focus on and tell the South Sudanese story as well?

    How about you address the topic at hand: Gaza’s situation?

  17. John Morales says

    [OT]

    Syria – the source country from which many Palestinians originated and again a massive Muslim Arab nation – albeit currently riven with civil war so perhaps not the first choice – although Hamas could no doubt happily go and join the “Islamic State” – formerly ISIS – terrorist run region of Syria and Iraq and help them create the pure Islamic Sharia law ultra-extreme Islamist “utopia” – Hamas and ISIS having essentially the same goals, desires and faith.

    You sure you’re keeping up, StevoR? From ABC News, my emphasis: Number of forcibly displaced people hits 51 million, highest since WWII: UNHCR
    “The UNHCR says the primary cause of the increase is the escalating crises in Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

    “We are really facing a quantum leap, an enormous increase of forced displacement in our world,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres told a news briefing.

    Nearly 17 million people are refugees and a record 33.3 million people are internally displaced.

    “The war in the Syrian Arab Republic, entering into its third year in 2013, was the primary cause of these outflows,” the report said.

    “The Syrian Arab Republic had moved from being the world’s second largest refugee-hosting country to being its second largest refugee-producing country – within a span of just five years.”

    With Syria alone, the UNHCR says 2.5 million refugees have crossed into neighbouring Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan and 6.5 million people are internally displaced.”

    PS Also: “The truth is that 86 per cent of the world’s refugees live in the developing world”

  18. Holms says

    SteveoR, you are being so blatantly obtuse I can only conclude that it is deliberate. In brief:

    Is perhaps the best one yet written on this current conflict and sums up why the Israelis have such a problem and why the Hamas sympathisers in the West are the biggest are so unethical and making things so much worse.
    I’m sure there are Hamas sympathisers out there in the broader internets, but here on FTB I have yet to see anyone defend Hamas’ actions. Rather, people have condemned their civilian bombardment, but have condemned Israel’s much more damaging bombardment of Palestinian civilians to a greater extent due to the lopsided military power balance and the vastly greater damage caused by Israel.

    The closest any have come to resembling this blatant mischaracterisation are those that point out that Hamas’ hatred of Israel is heavily (though not entirely) fuelled by Israels own callous actions against the Palestinians. Note that this stops well short of condoning their actions.

    Melanie Phillips asks an excellent question which I think all the Israel bashers here need to answer :
    “Doesn’t the Israel-atrocity brigade ever pause to wonder why Hamas has provided no air-raid shelters for its people, while Israel has constructed a national shelter system?”
    The answer tells us why the casualties are so unequally divided – and what the values especially respect for life and human rights of each side are.

    Read the post above this very comment thread. Specifically, the bit where Israel has direct control over the goods that are permitted into Gaza. Even more specifically, the restriction construction materials, especially cement a.k.a. bunker material.

    Thus, Israel is not only doing the killing of Palestinians, but is also directly hampering their ability to shelter their vulnerable, and the fact that Israel is pointing to these lopsided figures as evidence for Hamas not giving a shit is just the most staggering hypocrisy. Israel is in direct control of almost every aspect of this engagement, thus they recieve the lion’s share of the blame and outrage. Fuck Israel for murdering Palestinians, fuck Israel for hamstringing Palestinian defense efforts, fuck Israel some more for then blaming Palestinians for their inability to defend themselves.

    Egypt – their nearest neighbour, Gaza’s former ruling nation and a fellow Muslim nation -also Yasser Arafat’s birthplace?
    Apparently you are unaware of the fact that the Egyptian border is fortified against them, and that Egypt refuses to offer asylum – let alone citizenship – to Gazans.

    Jordan [...] Syria [...] Kuwait, Quatar, Lebanon, Tunisia, Libya, etc ..The world isn’t short on Arab and Muslim nations many of which already have large palestinian populations and could have solved their refugee problem decades ago.And how is a Gazan supposed to reach those nations? By land? Nope – Israel has also fortified its border with Gaza. By air? Nope – Israel shut down the Yasser Arafat International Airport less than two years after it opened. Then blew it up. Then bulldozed the runway. This leaves Gaza with a single small airstrip… which is under an Israeli air blockade. By sea? Nope – also blockaded by Israel. Remeber the fiasco I think four years ago when ships bearing aid workers tried to bring in supplies? And was fired upon? By Israel? Yeah.

    Why not blame Egypt as much as or more than Israel here?
    You might recall the Six Days War, in which Egypt recieved a beating from Israel and is now complying with their strategy towards Gaza. Now I’ll grant that this does not wholly excuse Egypt in closing their border to Gazans, but it is still drastically less awful than Israel’s conduct here. Egypt is not the nation that is actively attacking Palestinians, nor does Egypt have a history if stealing their land. That’s Israel.

    I can’t speak for lorn but I expect Israel has some idea of what Egypt smuggles in through the southern border – why shouldn’t they take that into account?
    The question of ‘why should Israel restrict their food and water at all’ remains.

    Not really. How many prisons are run by the convicted felons inside and allowed to shoot rockets into the police station and homes next door? I can’t think of a single one myself.
    Since when are Palestinians ‘convicted felons’? That must have been a whopper of a trial, what with having 1,600,000 defendants, so I am curious as to why there is no news of any such event. Or are you just engaging in some casual victim blaming?

    But then a lot of poverty stricken people struggle to find life’s essentials and enough food in a lot of places such as South Sudan where I believe things are many times worse in that respect than Gaza with an ongoing famine…
    All of which is irrelevant to the situation in Gaza, which is experiencing deprivation specifically because Israel is depriving them of whatever it wants to deprive them of. On what fucking planet does a Sudanese famine grant Israel the freedom to inflict famine on even a single person?

    Oh, you’re just trying to deflect attention away. “Look over there, those people are being fucked as well! Therefore the Israeli / Gazan fuckery isn’t special, therefore this excuses Israeli conduct.”

    Incidentally, does it bother you that almost all of your points are refuted by simply googling them?

  19. Dunc says

    What about Egypt? How does Egypt treat them especially given the border with Egypt and the history of Egypt controlling the Gaza Strip from 1948 till 1967?

    Yes, what about Egypt?

    Buffer zone

    In 1979, Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty that returned the Sinai Peninsula, which borders the Gaza Strip, to Egyptian control. As part of that treaty, a 100-meter-wide strip of land known as the Philadelphia Route was established as a buffer zone between Gaza and Egypt.[1] The Philadelphia Route is a patrol road that runs along the border. Until 2000, the IDF used a 20-40 meter wide buffer zone along the Gaza/Egypt border with a 2.5 to 3 meters high concrete wall topped with barbed wire.[2]

    Israel built a barrier and a 200–300 meter buffer zone in the Philadelphia route during the Palestinian uprisings of the early 2000s. It was made mostly of corrugated sheet metal, with stretches of concrete topped with barbed wire.[3] The construction of the buffer zone required the demolition of entire blocks of houses at the main entrance to Rafah’s central thoroughfare, as well as in the Al-Brazil block, Tel al Sultan and “Block O”.[2]
    2001-2003 expansion

    Since 2001, the IDF has routinely demolished Palestinian houses in Rafah, to create a buffer zone. In 2002, the IDF destroyed hundreds of houses in Rafah, needed for expansion of the buffer zone and the building of an eight meter high and 1.6 kilometers long metal wall along the border. The wall also extends two meters underground. The wall is built some eighty to ninety meters from the border, which doubled the width of the patrol corridor. After the metal wall was completed in early 2003, the demoltions continued and were even increased dramatically. According to Human Rights Watch, the wall was built far inside the demolished area to create a new starting point for justifying further demolitions.[2]
    2004 expansion, Operation Rainbow

    After the death on 12 May 2004 of 5 Israeli soldiers who were operating in the buffer zone, the Government approved on 13 May a plan to further expand the buffer zone, which would require the demolition of hundreds of homes.[4] The Israeli military recommended demolishing all homes within three hundred meters of its positions, or about four hundred meters from the border. The plan elicited strong international criticism.

    On 14 May, a large IDF force entered the “Brazil block” of Rafah and in a heavy fighting, as reported by UNWRA, 12 Palestinians were killed and 52 injured. Israeli forces began demolishing houses in the Qishta neighborhood. and destroyed scores of houses.[2][5] Around midnight the same day, the Israeli High Court of Justice issued an interim order, temporarily barring the IDF from demolishing homes in the refugee camp, if the action was not part of “a regular military operation”.[4] Nevertheless, the IDF continued the destruction of homes until 15 May 5:00 a.m. because of “immediate military necessity, a risk to soldiers, or a hindrance to a military operation”,[6] raising the number of destroyed houses to just over 100.[5]

    On 16 May, the High Court ruled that the IDF may destroy homes according to their needs; the IDF had pledged that it would refrain from unnecessarily demolishing houses.[7][8] The next day, Israel started “Operation Rainbow”.

    On 18 May, the Israel government declared that the plan to widen a buffer zone along the Egyptian border was cancelled,[9] while the same day the army massively invaded Rafah and continued its large-scale destruction.[5] On 19 May 2004, the United Nations Security Council condemned the killing of Palestinian civilians and the demolition of homes.[9]

    Between 1 April 2003 and 30 April 2004, 106 were houses demolished in Rafah.[10] According to HRW, the IDF’s justifications for the destruction were doubtful and rather consistent with the goal of having a wide and empty border area to facilitate long-term control over the Gaza Strip.[2]

    Oh.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaza%E2%80%93Egypt_border

  20. Dunc says

    If I was in Gaza I’d do everything I could to flee Gaza and go elsewhere.

    Are you unaware of the fact that Israel controls the borders and doesn’t let anybody leave?

  21. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @ ^ Dunc : Citation needed.

    I’m pretty sure the Israelis would happily let refugees out from Gaza if they wanted to go – whether Egypt allows it I’d be slightly less sure.

    ***

    BTW. If anyone’s still interested I’ve answered people’s comments on this older related thread now :

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/singham/2014/07/20/support-for-israel-hemorrhaging/#comment-2581389

    ***

    @ John Morales 18, 19 & 20 :

    On Syria, yes I’m aware of the horrors of its civil war and subsequent refugee crisis of its own – which is why I noted that in my earlier comment #14 “..currently riven with civil war so perhaps not the first choice.. Guess that was a little too subtle and wry for y’all?

    As for Oz being underpopulated – yes. Most of our nation is desert but for one I’d welcome Palestinian refugees provided they were peaceful and didn’t try to attack us or impose their islamist rules upon the rest of our multicultural, liberal, secular culture.

    As for assigning culpability I’ve done that accurately and explained why and South Sudan is noted for comparison purposes.

  22. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    PS. I’ve noted in earlier threads I actually had an Iranian, Muslim family living next door for a few years. They were great people who fled when the Shah was toppled and I got on well with them and vice-versa. I’ve also had Muslim lecturers at university. I have nothing against individual Muslim people and I judge everyone by the same criteria – their own actions and behaviour towards me and others.

    The ideology of extremist Islam and especially Jihadists OTOH, I do take issue with – for very good and I would have thought – very obvious reasons.

  23. John Morales says

    StevoR @25:

    @ John Morales 18, 19 & 20 :
    On Syria, yes I’m aware of the horrors of its civil war and subsequent refugee crisis of its own – which is why I noted that in my earlier comment #14 “..currently riven with civil war so perhaps not the first choice.. Guess that was a little too subtle and wry for y’all?

    Very wry indeed; it read just as if you were actually recommending it as other than first choice, instead of conceding.

    Most of our nation is desert but for one I’d welcome Palestinian refugees provided they were peaceful and didn’t try to attack us or impose their islamist rules upon the rest of our multicultural, liberal, secular culture.

    It’s OK, they’re used to desert.

    Excellent news, StevoR.

    I agree; as long as we don’t treat them like Israel treats Palestinians, they’re probably going to be no worse than Muslims already inside Australia.

    (If only Tony Abbott felt as you do!)

  24. John Morales says

    StevoR @25:

    The ideology of extremist Islam and especially Jihadists OTOH, I do take issue with – for very good and I would have thought – very obvious reasons.

    What about the ideology of extremist Judaism and especially Zionists OTOH? You fine with it?

  25. rq says

    StevoR @25 re: Dunc @24
    I believe Holms already posted a reply to that:

    And how is a Gazan supposed to reach those nations? By land? Nope – Israel has also fortified its border with Gaza. By air? Nope – Israel shut down the Yasser Arafat International Airport less than two years after it opened. Then blew it up. Then bulldozed the runway. This leaves Gaza with a single small airstrip… which is under an Israeli air blockade. By sea? Nope – also blockaded by Israel. Remeber the fiasco I think four years ago when ships bearing aid workers tried to bring in supplies? And was fired upon? By Israel? Yeah.

    Doesn’t really sound like they’re too happy to let anyone out (or in). And if nobody else wants the refugees (you yourself express doubt that Egypt would allow it), where the hell should they go, then?

  26. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @ ^ John Morales : I think sometimes there are problems with those who go too far to the Zionist and ultra-orthodox extremes.

    The word “Zionist” has become incredibly loaded and vague incidentally and I’d like know how you personally would define that term. Becausea lot of people use it in a lot of differing ways including some very derogatory outright Juadeophobic ones. (A lot of Arabs use “Zionist entity” for instance because they cannot bear to call Israel, Israel.)

    I think there are certainly problems there and I don’t think Israel should have borders “from the Nile to the Euphrates.” I think Israel should probably consist of its present territory including the Golan heights -which is much smaller than Mano Singham’s map on the OP here claims – as well as Judea and Samaria (i.e.West bank of Jordan a nation that lost and deserves to lose land for joining an attempt at the genocide of all Israel in 1967) but excluding Gaza who the Egyptians are welcome to provided they prevent further wars.

    I would personally give the Palestinians a choice of voluntarily either accepting Israel’s existence and living peaceably within its borders as Israeli Arab citizens of Israel making no attempts to destroy the jewish state or emigrating – with some financial compensation to help them resettle – in Arab nations of their choosing if they cannot bring themselves to accept Israel’s existence. Those who refuse to voluntarily agree to live in peace inside Israel or emigrate outside of it with some fair compensation if they cannot bear to do so, I would, regrettably, forcibly deport without compensation to the nearest Arab nation – i.e. Jordan for those living in Judea and Samaria & Egypt for those living in the Gaza Strip. Although actually I’m quite happy for Egypt to run Gaza as a whole as long as the rockets and terrorism from its border stop.

    Of course Egypt is likely to be much harsher on Hamas than Israel could ever be but ce la vie.

    No group of people is perfect -certainly no individual is – and this applies to Israel and the Jewish people and individuals the same as everyone else.

    So, yeah,l there are some flippin’ awful things that the Jewish people have done and human nature being what it is, continue to do, and yeah, ithnk thatsucks and oppose them when that’s the case. All religions have their extremists and extremist generally ain’t good. Nor are sexism , racism, homophobia,transphobia ,et cetera.

    All of which of course, in no way excuses Hamas and their attempts to murder Israeli civilians and exterminate the nation of Israel.

  27. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    PS. If the Jordanians decide to rename their nation “Palestine” as they could, well, that’d be fine – it is, after all, their state. (And much larger than Israel.)

    Alternatively if as suggested here :

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2014/07/how_to_save_gaza_demilitarization_and_abbas.html

    Abbas and the more reasonable moderate palestinians agree to take over Gaza and run it and parts of the West Jordanian bank as a demilitarised and peaceful Palestinian state then that too would be a positive solution in my view.

    I don’t know. Que sera sera.

    What we can’t have is the constant situation of Hamas doing this appalling stuff every few years, attacking Israel, getting the world to stop Israel when Hamas is losing the fight it started and bears fullresponsibility for, and then re-arming,and repeating the whole tragic cycle every few years.

    Hamas and its fellow islamist terrorists are the problem here and they need to go – Hamas needs to be beaten decisively and permanently so it no longer blights everyone’s lives in the region and wider world.

    That so unreasonable or wrong to expect?

  28. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @rq. Egypt, Jordan and other Arab nations need to be involved and need to accept the Palestinian refugees, take them in, resettle them and make them new citizens of their nations.

    The Western world can – and already does so – too.

    @ readysf – July 23, 2014 at 9:15 am (UTC -4) : “Israel’s behavior is profoundly evil. Our support of Israel taints us all.”

    What makes you say that and what evidence do you have to back that up?

    The fact that Israel shoots back when people shoot at it?

    The fact that it puts up a barrier to homicide-suicide bombers and fought off Arab armies intent on massacring all its civilians?

    You’ve just got a thing against blue stars made of triangles, dreidels and yarmulkes? What makes you say such utter rubbish? When and why did you decide Israel, a nation of what six, seven ,eight million fellow humans was so bad eh? Really, I’m curious.

    @23. Dunc. : You asked what about Egypt and then quoted a whole block of stuff about Israel? Huh? I don’t get it. Does Egypt have a responsibility and could it do more to help and accept refugees from Gaza in your view -yes or no? (Btw. I’ve addressed your point again – without even another linked video that you’ll refuse to watch on the other thread in case you care.)

  29. says

    Hamas needs to be beaten decisively and permanently so it no longer blights everyone’s lives in the region and wider world.

    How long has Israel been trying to do this? Did they just now start? How well have their attempts to achieve this goal worked so far?

    You advocate an IDEAL solution, and I agree with your ideal. But Israel’s enemies also have an IDEAL solution: wipe Israel off the map altogether. That so unreasonable or wrong to expect? If they can’t have their ideal solution, maybe we should also admit that we can’t have our ideal solution either.

  30. Mano Singham says

    Raging Bee,

    I got it from Google images. I was focusing on finding a map that gave a rough idea of the size and location of Gaza with respect to the other countries in the region and did not pay much attention to the other aspects of it.

  31. says

    Keeping people hungry and malnourished in order to make them submissive and to sap their will is an old strategy.

    It’s also a very STUPID strategy, as it results in more and more people finding they have nothing to lose by violent revolt. If you want people to submit to your rule, you have to make sure they are able to get what they need, and a good fraction of what they want, without undue inconvenience, and within the social/legal framework you wish to impose on them. As Lao Tsu said, keep their hearts empty and their bellies full. Israel is doing the exact opposite of that, and pretending to be all surprised and baffled at the heathen savages’ response. Even Hitler was smarter than that.

  32. says

    @23. Dunc. : You asked what about Egypt and then quoted a whole block of stuff about Israel? Huh? I don’t get it. Does Egypt have a responsibility and could it do more to help and accept refugees from Gaza in your view -yes or no?

    What would Israel do if Egypt started sending more restricted goods into Gaza?

  33. Dunc says

    @23. Dunc. : You asked what about Egypt and then quoted a whole block of stuff about Israel? Huh? I don’t get it. Does Egypt have a responsibility and could it do more to help and accept refugees from Gaza in your view -yes or no? (Btw. I’ve addressed your point again – without even another linked video that you’ll refuse to watch on the other thread in case you care.)

    It really helps if actually read for comprehension. You could also try following the link. But since you don’t seem inclined to actually learn anything about the details of the situation you’re opining so confidently on, allow me to summarise for you:

    Under the terms of the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, Israel retains control of a “buffer zone” between Egypt and Gaza. The border is not under Egyptian control, it is under Israeli control. The IDF has repeatedly (and unilaterally) extended this buffer zone by demolishing houses on the Palestinian side, even in defiance of rules from the Israeli High Court of Justice banning them from doing so.

    Now go back and read what I posted, only this time, try and actually make an effort to understand it. It’s in quite straightforward English. Then read the wiki article at the associated link.

    Whether Egypt is willing to accept Palestinian refugees is irrelevant, because the Israelis won’t let them cross the border (which Israel effectively controls, although the border closure is technically enforced by the Egyptian army, under the terms of the treaty). I believe all countries have a responsibility to accept refugees, but the problem here is that Israel will not let anybody leave. (Well, there is a moral problem in that driving people to leave their homes as refugees is generally regarded as a form of genocide, but we’ll leave the moral complexities aside for now, and just focus on the practicalities.)

  34. lorn says

    Mano Singham @ #7:

    “Are you seriously suggesting that Israel is justified in restricting imports of food and other basic goods because the Gazans are expected to smuggle what they need through the Israeli and Egyptian security cordon?”

    Absolutely.

    The back channels are pretty well understood. It is a simple engineering problem to determine what the capacity in tons and cubic meters of those channels are. Drone observations can certainly be used to count trucks, people carrying things, and donkey carts. It is simple enough to look up the dimensions and weight of supplies and weapons.

    I do this every time I go camping. I know how much I can carry for any set rate of moment and how much room is in my pack. I then prioritize the need, come up with a list and pack accordingly. I also know that if I get into the deep woods and find I miscalculated or forgot something I need I have none to blame but myself. In fact the filled pack and hiking itinerary are clear evidence of my priorities, values, and ability to predict future needs.

    Israelis forcing a logistical bottleneck and giving the Palestinians a choice of what to transport, or not, on that limited supply line has many benefits. The choice is simple enough. They can import medical supplies, food, fuel and the rest of things that would keep their children and society healthy, or they can import weapons. It is a simple, and revealing, matter of priorities.

    Observing the choices selected by the Palestinian leadership, to allow their people to go hungry and remain sick, and then using that hunger and sickness as a propaganda opportunity, goes a long way in describing the values of the leadership, what has to change for a meaningful peace to be established, and why the Israelis have no trust in anything the Palestinian leadership say.

    There is no agreement possible as long as the Palestinian leadership values their ability to harm Israelis more than it values the well being of its citizens.

    The Palestinians could be living peaceful and productive lives with healthy, happy children. As long as they are wiling to forgo and demonstrate a durable and abiding commitment to peace.

    Excise the portions of their charter that establishes killing Jews and destroying Israel as a purpose of the society. Stop importing arms. Revamp the educational materials to remove anti-Jewish propaganda. Forgo the billboards and parades celebrating suicide bombers. Do all that in a permanent and meaningful manner and the people of Gaza can enjoy peace and prosperity.

    Of course, none of that will happen any time soon. The hatred of Israel is too vital to their self-image. The Arab/ Muslim/ ethnic/ tribal/ masculine/ Wahhabi pride is too strong. Disarming is simply not the manly thing to do.

    I think a lot of the people objecting are focusing on the here and now and individuals being hurt. I see this as a struggle over a century involving many millions of people. The Palestinians were not well treated for a long time before Israel was reestablished. Jordan killed more Palestinians in a single event than the Israelis ever did and the arbitrary divisions of the area by western powers didn’t do the various people any favors.

    A dead child is a source of sadness right now but you have to keep track of the area under the curve and realize that we are playing with millions of lives. That all soldiers were once children. Nations, societies, cultures fight and people die.

    The other thing I see is that a lot of people, when faced with Palestinian misdeeds, fall back of a ‘both sides do it’ defense. Yes, both sides resort to propaganda but there is are both qualitative and quantitative differences. The Israeli founding documents don’t speak of killing Palestinians of destroying any states. Israeli society has an anti-Arab undercurrent, but they don’t ensconce that feeling in their school books, hold parades explicitly celebrating killing Arabs. No, they are not the same.

  35. says

    Israelis forcing a logistical bottleneck and giving the Palestinians a choice of what to transport, or not, on that limited supply line has many benefits. The choice is simple enough. They can import medical supplies, food, fuel and the rest of things that would keep their children and society healthy, or they can import weapons.

    So you’re saying Israel allows Hamas to import weapons if they choose to?

  36. says

    PS: Mano, you gotta find another map. The one you used here gets a rather obvious fact wrong, and it makes your whole post look stupid. There’s plenty of better images you can use.

    Also, lorn, your ridiculous rosy picture of Israel’s attempts to starve the people of Gaza — where you blame the Gazans even though Israel has all the power — is flatly contradicted by the actual facts stated. Your attempts to excuse Israel’s indiscriminate mistreatment of whole communities is beyond ridiculous.

    I think a lot of the people objecting are focusing on the here and now and individuals being hurt. I see this as a struggle over a century involving many millions of people.

    In other words, you care more about events in the past than about addressing and solving problems in the present. That makes you part of the problem.

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