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.

Israel’s Supreme Court began Monday to debate a petition filed by MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad), against a Knesset decision to revoke her rights for participating in the flotilla to Gaza last May.”The rightist consensus in the Knesset is trying to punish me and not allow me freedom of expression,” Zoabi said. Rightists who awaited her exit from the court called her a “terrorist”.

The National Lawyers Guild (U.S.) strongly urges the Human Rights Council of the United Nations to pass a resolution supporting the referral of the Israeli siege, blockade, and war on Gaza to the International Criminal Court. Such a resolution would pave the way for the UN Security Council to make such a referral.

The new vice-president of Egypt, Omar Suleiman, is a long-standing favourite of Israel’s who spoke daily to the Tel Aviv government via a secret “hotline” to Cairo, leaked documents disclose.

IOA Editor: The implications on the continuation of the Gaza siege are only too obvious. Another reason to oppose the US-lead efforts to limit the change of government in Egypt.

On January 11, 2011 Israeli activist Yonatan Pollack began a 3 month jail sentence for riding his bike in a protest against the criminal siege of Gaza. While the war criminals responsible for the siege go free and siege protesters like Pollak are jailed. The protesters say: Prosecute the real criminals! End the siege of Gaza! Free Yonatan Pollack!

“Although it was not my usual custom, I made a point of kissing my children every night,” one young father from Gaza City told me. “I never knew which of us would still be alive the next day, and I wanted to say goodbye properly.”

An anonymous group of students has created a document to express their frustration born of Hamas’s violent crackdowns on ‘western decadence’, the destruction wreaked by Israel’s attacks and the political games played by Fatah and the UN.

Vilnai is depending on Israelis’ total indifference to our Qassams: our soldiers’ nearly daily firing on Gaza civilians, regularly wounding and sometimes killing them.

Noam Chomsky speaks about the WikiLeaks documents release, comparing it to the 1971 release of the Pentagon Papers in which he had a role. Chomsky covers US-Israel relations in the context of the Occupation, the illegal Gaza siege, the separation of Gaza from the West Bank – in direct violation of the Oslo agreement, and much more.

Amnesty director Kate Allen: “The so-called ‘easing’ of the Gaza blockade does not change the fact that there’s still a cruel and illegal blockade collectively punishing the entire civilian population… The only real easing has been the easing of pressure on the Israeli authorities to end this cruel and illegal practice.”

Oxfam director Jeremy Hobbs: “Israel’s failure to live up to its commitments and the lack of international action to lift the blockade are depriving Palestinians in Gaza of access to clean water, electricity, jobs and a peaceful future.”

That the Israel-Palestine conflict grinds on without resolution might appear to be rather strange. For many of the world’s conflicts, it is difficult even to conjure up a feasible settlement. In this case, not only is it possible, but there is near-universal agreement on its basic contours: a two-state settlement along the internationally recognised (pre-June 1967) borders – with “minor and mutual modifications”, to adopt official US terminology before Washington departed from the international community in the mid-1970s.

Haaretz: Formulas for siege

29 October 2010

The use of mathematical euqations to calculate basic humanitarian needs cannot help but raise parallels with the most monstrous uses of science.

It would be wrong to dismiss the wisdom of our leaders. Perhaps they’ve gotten exactly what they wanted – to strengthen Hamas in the Gaza Strip, both for perpetuating the intentional division between Gaza and the West Bank and to encourage perpetual low-intensity warfare (which sometimes escalates).

IOA Editor: Hamas, one of Israel’s most important – yet, invisible – allies, affords Israel the opportunity to conjure up “evidence” that an arrangement between Israelis and Palestinians is inherently impossible, particularly on account of Hamas, thus freeing Israel to colonize the little of historic Palestine that is still Arab – while dividing, ruling, and repressing Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel itself. (Lest we leave out Israel’s other excuses for not ending the Occupation, before Hamas it was Arafat who was “not a partner” for peace, and before him it was the Arab World, etc.)

Since Hamas took control of Gaza, [Israeli] officials have employed mathematical formulas to monitor goods from aid groups entering the Strip to ensure amount was in line with what Israel permitted.

Gisha Director Sari Bashi: “Instead of considering security concerns, on the one hand, and the rights and needs of civilians living in Gaza, on the other, 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.”

Israel Defense Forces soldiers used excessive force while taking over a Gaza-bound aid ship organized by Jewish and Israeli activists, flotilla participants said Tuesday, countering the military’s official version claiming that the takeover had been uneventful.

Israeli commandos have boarded and seized a Gaza-bound aid ship of Jewish activists just miles off the Gaza coast. The activists were attempting to deliver a symbolic load of medicine, a water-purifying kit and other humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. The Jewish Boat to Gaza was the latest attempt to break the blockade since Israel’s deadly attack on an aid flotilla in May. In the West Bank, Jewish settlers resumed building settlements on Monday one day after Israel refused to extend its partial freeze on settlement expansion.

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