Israel's claimed easing
is false. Besieged Gazans remain isolated. The Palestinian Center for
Human Rights (PCHR) assessed conditions in January.
Except for limited amounts of agricultural products, Gaza's export economy's
suffering. In addition, imports of basic needs and raw materials fall
well below minimal needs.
Karm Abu Salem crossing was closed nearly 30% of the time. Incoming
truckloads are 28.5% of pre-siege levels.
Out of 60 million flowers produced annually, export permission's granted
for only a tiny fraction. In 2005, 70 truckloads of agricultural products
were exported daily. Now it's a shadow of that amount.
Before June 2007, 570 average daily truckloads entered Gaza. Now it's
Karm Abu Salem crossing handles commercial traffic only. Currently,
it doesn't meet Gaza's needs. Previously, goods entered through four
crossings. In March 2011, Israel began demolishing the main al-Mentar
(Karni) commercial crossing.
It once handled 75% of Strip needs. Its closure and dependence on Karm
Abu Salem severely restricted movement of goods. Moreover, high transportation
expenses increased import prices, and farmers incurred higher export
Al-Mentar crossing opened in 1995. According to the 2005 Crossings Agreement,
its operational capacity allowed 400 export trucks daily and 600 entering.
Yet Israel's bureaucracy prevented attaining these levels even before
imposed siege restrictions.
Gaza's commercial crossing is important. During Cast Lead it was destroyed.
In addition, Private Transport Association secretary-general Jihad Salim
said shipping a container from Ashdod, Israel to Gaza cost more than
from China to Ashdod. It's because onerous import fees impose burdensome
Besides agriculture, Gaza's export economy relies heavily on textiles
and furniture. Producers are hard-pressed to survive. Many can't and
In January, 2,800 tons of cooking gas entered Gaza. It represents less
than half what's needed. Israel permitted 330,000 liters of diesel and
70,000 liters of benzene. It's far less than what Gazans need. As a
result, tunnel smuggling's essential.
A total ban on construction materials remains for private sector use.
International organizations are permitted limited quantities, including
70,000 tons of construction aggregate, 7,400 tons of cement, and 1,435
tons of iron. Limited amounts of tar, other construction materials,
plumbing tools, ceramics and marble were also allowed.
Vehicular traffic restrictions reduced entry to half its normal flow.
An agreement to permit more wasn't implemented.
Fewer patients were given travel permission to visit Israeli, West Bank
and Jerusalem hospitals. The level represents half the early 2006 level.
Certain categories were excluded altogether, including blind patients,
those with amputated limbs, and others Israel won't qualify as needing
Under complicated bureaucratic procedures, 46 international journalists,
93 diplomats, and 548 international humanitarian organization workers
entered after several days of delay.
Business people endured five border crossing closures. During the 26
open, 2,300 traders were let in. It represents half the June 2007 level.
For over 56 months, families of about 500 Gazans detained in Israeli
prisons were prevented from visiting loved ones. No rational reasons
were given. Doing so violates Fourth Geneva's Article 116, stating:
"Every internee shall be allowed to receive visitors, especially near
relatives, at regular intervals and as frequently as possible. As far
as is possible, internees shall be permitted to visit their homes in
urgent cases, particularly in cases of death or serious illness of relatives."
Rafah International Crossing Point conditions improved. About 15,760
entered Egypt. Another 774 returned. Palestinian males aged 18 to 40
are prohibited traveling either way. Opened five days a week, it's closed
on weekends and official holidays.
Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing handles pedestrian traffic. Israel closed
it with few exceptions. They include patients with serious illnesses,
Arabs with Israeli IDs, international journalists, international humanitarian
organization employees, businesspeople, and persons traveling via al-Karama
crossing. Even they endure burdensome delays.
Gaza's siege is illegal. Isolation this long represents cruel and unusual
collective punishment. Pressure's vital to end it entirely, including
for seaborne entry. Israel maintains it repressively, despite serving
no useful purpose.
As a result, 1.7 million Gazans endure severe hardships. They're suffocating
because too few vital to life supplies enter. Others remain at Israel's
whim to curtail or cut off entry entirely for any reason or none at
all. This must end.
Fourth Geneva's Article 55 states:
"To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the Occupying Power
has the duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population;
it should, in particular, bring in the necessary foodstuffs, medical
stores, and other articles if the resources of the occupied territory
"The Occupying Power may not requisition foodstuffs, articles, or medical
supplies available in the occupied territory, and then only if the requirements
of the civilian population have been taken into account."
Under Article 1, Fourth Geneva's "High Contracting Powers" are obligated
to ensure implementation of the convention's provisions to assure proper
treatment for occupied people.
For nearly 45 years, Israel never treated Palestinians responsibly.
As a result, they continue enduring appalling hardships, especially
A Final Comment
At hundreds of checkpoints, Israel harasses Palestinians repressively.
On January 25, Haaretz writer Amira Hass headlined, "New Israeli search
method at West Bank checkpoint worries Palestinians," saying:
According to international aid workers, "Israel Police have begun implementing
a new method of searching Palestinian vehicles through use of (unknown,
perhaps toxic) nausea-inducing chemicals at a Bethlehem checkpoint."
Cars are pulled over, then "passengers are asked to roll up all windows,
apart from that of the driver and exit the vehicle. Two tubes are
then connected to the vehicle one is connected to an air pump, the
other, which passes through a tiny filter, is attached to the vehicle.
A policeman with a stopwatch flicks the air pump switch."
One international user described the experience as follows:
"[T]he tube is left connected for approximately 10 minutes. Afterward,
the filter is removed and taken to a nearby building. The worker says
she was under the impression that some kind of chemical was disseminated
into the vehicle, as she and another passenger began feeling nauseous
and suffered from headaches several days afterwards. The worker has
informed her country’s embassy."
In combat, Israel tests new terror weapons in real time. Apparently
Palestinians are test subjects to see how well or poorly they handle
this substance, whatever it is. An Israeli official explained the procedure
"(I)t must conduct arbitrary, rudimentary checks through use of sophisticated
technological means, all the while alleviating the experience of those
being checked." No further explanation was given.
Begun in December, it continues. Palestinians with Israeli license plates
and foreign residents are excluded. What's used and its potential short
or longer term effects aren't known.
Israel's unconcerned about Palestinians' health and well-being. Gazans
endure critical fuel and medical supply shortages. About 90% of Gaza's
water is unsafe, and raw sewage dumped into the Mediterranean poses
serious health hazards.
In conflicts, illegal weapons, depleted uranium, and other toxins are
used freely. What's a dose of unknown gas besides all that. They add
up and take a toll.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News
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