Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

Gaza siege

Assaf Kfoury: Why Gaza?

22 November 2012

Three weeks before Israel launched its Operation Pillar of Defense on November 14, 2012 I was part of an academic delegation on a short trip to the Gaza Strip. For the mainstream media, October was a “normal” time, because hardships endured by Gazans are not newsworthy when there are no F-16’s dropping laser-guided smart bombs. That one or two Gazans were killed by Israeli army patrols from one week to the next in October, because they had transgressed the limits of the Israeli siege, went largely unnoticed. But such are the ethical standards of the mainstream media, genuflecting to power and ignoring the oppressed. One way to see through the ideological fog is to experience “normal” conditions from close range. Inside the Gaza Strip in October, we directly witnessed the devastating effects of the sanctions, the siege, the sea blockade and – more fundamentally – the long systematic evisceration that Gaza has suffered over several decades.

I have always admired the work of Gisha, and therefore read its response to my “Impressions of Gaza” with much interest — and comparable disappointment. The response refers to exactly one statement of mine: ‘heavy equipment in Gaza is not “lying idle”, as Chomsky describes.’ My statement is quite accurate.

Even a single night in jail is enough to give a taste of what it means to be under the total control of some external force. And it hardly takes more than a day in Gaza to begin to appreciate what it must be like to try to survive in the world’s largest open-air prison, where a million and a half people, in the most densely populated area of the world, are constantly subject to random and often savage terror and arbitrary punishment

There can be no doubt that the diet devised for Gaza – much like Israel’s blockade in general – was intended as a form of collective punishment, one directed at every man, woman and child. The goal, according to the Israeli defence ministry, was to wage “economic warfare” that would generate a political crisis, leading to a popular uprising against Hamas.

The eight signatories of this letter are members of the group that traveled with Noam Chomsky to Gaza. We have spent three and a half days here in Gaza with Chomsky, who departed yesterday. We would like to clarify the circumstances surrounding Chomsky’s visit.

Jewish-American scholar and activist Noam Chomsky reportedly called for an end to Israel’s siege of Gaza, on his first ever visit to the Hamas-ruled enclave on Thursday. Chomsky, who was in the Gaza Strip for a conference at the Islamic University, called “to end the Israeli siege on Gaza.”

The Oslo Accords permit Gazan fishermen to sail up to 20 nautical miles from shore. In practice, the furthest they were allowed to fish was 12 miles. This was shortened to six miles after 2000, and since the Operation Cast Lead military onslaught conducted by Israel against Gaza during winter 2008/2009, the permissible limit is only three nautical miles.

Annual report lists Israel’s blockade of Gaza Strip, settlement expansion in West Bank, and home demolitions in East Jerusalem; report also accuses Hamas for carrying out judicial executions and for allegedly torturing detainees.

Maj. Gen. Amos Gilad, formerly acting Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), permitted bringing processed hummus into the Gaza Strip in July 2009, for the first time in two years. However, Gilad did not permit bringing hummus with extras, such as pine nuts or mushrooms, into the strip.

Hamas needs a blockade to regulate from within so that the subjects of “independent Gaza” will be exposed as little as possible to different realities and will not question its policies. Hamas needs the blockade and needs Gaza to be cut off from the rest of Palestinian society to ensure the continuation of its regime.

Cindy Corrie: “After more than a year of hearings, we are at this moment in much the same place as we were when they began – up against a wall of Israeli officials determined to protect the state at all costs, including at the expense of truth.”

The gradual closure of Gaza began in 1991, when Israel canceled the general exit permit that allowed most Palestinians to move freely through Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Since then the closure, which may soon be challenged by the second Freedom Flotilla, has become almost hermetic.

Following Egypt’s January 25 Revolution, Egyptians are pushing for some of the country’s foreign relations policies to change, especially those related to Israel and Palestine. Aid or protest convoys to Gaza were frequently stopped or arrested during the Mubarak era by the ousted president’s regime, and now for the first time since the revolution thousands of activists are planning to march to the Rafah border town.

Join a sunset cruise in New York Harbor: Wednesday, 25 May 2011
The Marco Polo Marina
23rd Street & FDR Drive ~ New York
BOARDING 6:30 pm · RETURNING 10:30 pm

The U.S. Boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope, is committed to breaking the siege of Gaza. Around the U.S. thousands of people have been contributing. Not everyone can sail on the boat but you all are just as much a part of the campaign as the passengers and the crew.

More worrying still to Israeli officials are reported plans by Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah crossing into Gaza, closed for the past four years as part of a Western-backed blockade of the enclave designed to weaken Hamas, the ruling Islamist group there. Egypt is working out details to permanently open the border, an Egyptian foreign ministry official told the Reuters news agency on Sunday. The blockade would effectively come to an end as a result.

Ever since January 1991, long before Hamas rose to power, long before the suicide bombings, even before the Oslo accords, Israel restricted the Palestinians’ rights to travel between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. That was when the “caging” of Gaza started, and this cage has gradually become more and more closed over time.

More than 1,000 leftists and pro-Palestinian activists are expected to take part in the flotilla, which sources say will include more than 20 vessels of various sizes.

Gidon Bromberg, director of Friends of the Earth Middle East: “Complete madness… This sort of thing makes no sense whatsoever… The environmental implications would be felt along the coast of Gaza and Israel… The public should be very sceptical.”

The ministry has been ordered to release information regarding the minimum nutritional requirements needed to sustain Gaza residents, names of officials responsible for policy of limiting the entry of goods into the strip.

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