What are the consequences of Israel’s blockade of Gaza?

19 Jun

 

VIDEO REPORT: TRTWorld, 17 June 2017

Since Israel started imposing a blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2007, there has been restricted access to the Palestinian territory by land, sea and air. It’s one of the most densely populated places on earth, and the United Nations say more than half the 1.8 million who live there need humanitarian support. TRTWorld Middle East correspondent Iolo ap Dafydd reports.

 

Gideon Levy: ‘Who’s in favour of a massacre in Gaza?’

16 Jun

Smoke and fire from an Israeli strike rise over Gaza City, 29 July 2014. [Hatem Moussa/AP]

Gideon Levy, Opinion: Haaretz (Israeli daily newspaper), 15 June, 2017

Who’s in Favour of a Massacre in Gaza?

One more hour in Gaza without electricity, and the signal there will be given: Qassam rockets. Israel once again will be the victim, and the massacre will begin.

Israel and Gaza are not facing another war, nor are they heading for another “operation” or “round.” This false terminology is intended to mislead and dumb down the remnants of conscience.

What’s at stake now is the danger of another massacre in the Gaza Strip. Controlled, measured, not too massive, but nonetheless a massacre. When Israeli officers, politicians and commentators talk about “the next round,” they’re talking about the next massacre.

A war won’t be conducted in Gaza, because there’s nobody in Gaza to fight against one of the most heavily armed militaries in the world, even if TV military affairs commentator Alon Ben David reports that Hamas can field four divisions. Nor will there be any (Israeli) bravery in Gaza, because there’s no bravery in attacking a defenseless population. And, of course, there will be no morality or justice in Gaza, because there is no morality or justice in attacking a shuttered cage full of inmates who don’t even have where to run, if they could.

So let’s call a spade a spade: This is what’s known as a massacre. That’s what they’re talking about in Israel now. Who’s for a massacre and who’s against it? Will it be good for Israel? Will it contribute to its security and interests or not? Will it bring down Hamas’ rule or not? Will it serve the Likud “base” or not? Does Israel have a choice? Of course not. Any attack on Gaza will end up in a massacre. There’s nothing to justify it, because a massacre cannot be justified. So we must ask: Are we for another massacre in Gaza, or against it?

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10 years of siege: ‘Gaza at humanitarian breaking point’

16 Jun

Palestinian girls walk past rubble of heavily damaged buildings in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shujaaiya during the 2014 Gaza war. (AFP/ Thomas Coex, File)

By Chloe Benoist, Ma’an News Agency, Bethlehem, 15 June, 2017

On 10th anniversary of siege, Gaza reaching humanitarian and political breaking point

As the Gaza Strip marked the ten-year anniversary of Israel’s siege of the small Palestinian enclave on Thursday, the humanitarian situation has continued to alarm rights groups, which have denounced the “inhuman conditions unparalleled in the modern world.”

Gaza, which has often been compared to an “open air prison” for its 1.9 million inhabitants crowded into 365 square kilometers, has suffered from a decade of isolation and deprivation, made all the worse by three devastating Israeli military operations, and persistent intra-Palestinian political strife.

The recent decision by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to request that Israel reduce its supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip has made many fear that the situation in Gaza could soon reach a political and humanitarian breaking point with unforetold consequences.

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Brownlee’s betrayal

16 Jun

Rod Emmerson cartoon, NZ Herald

Opinion: Leslie Bravery, NZ Palestine Human Rights Campaign, 16 June 2017

Brownlee’s betrayal

Last Tuesday, 13 June 2017, The Jerusalem Post (JP) celebrated New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English’s expression of regret over what he called the damage done to relations with Israel as a result of this country’s sponsoring of UNSC Resolution 2334. The newspaper reported that, “following discreet diplomatic contacts, Netanyahu and New Zealand’s Prime Minister Bill English spoke by phone a few days ago.” According to the JP, Wellington had been informed that,Israel has decided to end what it called ‘the crisis’ and send Ambassador Itzhak Gerberg back to the country.” Israel had, apparently, been appeased by what the JP reported as “efforts to restore ties between the two countries started in earnest last month, when New Zealand’s new Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee wrote a letter to Netanyahu on the occasion of Independence Day trying to smooth over the difficulties.” Brownlee explained that, “Our goal is to get the relationship between New Zealand and Israel back on track,” and expressed the hope that “this will provide a positive platform to re-establish communication between officials from our respective foreign affairs ministries.”

In December last year, the New Zealand Herald had reported Israeli PM Netanyahu’s fury over UNSC 2334 when he threatened: “If you continue to promote this resolution from our point of view it will be a declaration of war. It will rupture the relations and there will be consequences.” But that was during the last days of Obama’s Presidency and Murray McCully was our Foreign Affairs Minister. Obama had little time for Netanyahu and, at the end of his term, felt he could afford to ease up a little on America’s pandering to the Zionist state. The US refrained from using its veto, UNSC 2334 was adopted and international law somewhat upheld. Today, the Trump Administration has returned the US to its habitual, unconditional support for the Zionist enterprise. It should be no surprise that New Zealand has to trim its sail accordingly. From Israel’s perspective, Gerry Brownlee’s appointment and the departure of Murray McCully are timely in the extreme. This course of events must raise the question of just how independent New Zealand’s foreign policy really is. According to the JP, “Jerusalem believed that McCully was the driving force behind the move, and it was widely expected that relations with Wellington would improve once he left office. Brownlee took over from him on 2 May.”

UNSCR 2334 was adopted because, as McCully had explained, “continuing settlement growth at anything like the current rate will render the two state solution a purely academic concept. There will be nothing left to negotiate.” On 14 June, in an interview onRadio New Zealand’s Morning Report, Brownlee was asked about New Zealand’s view on the legality of Israel’s Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land. Our Foreign Affairs Minister refused to be drawn, simply replying: “What we’ve said is that the settlement issue is one that the parties that are in dispute need to sort out among themselves. And we will do what we can to assist in that process. But in the end, it’s something for them to determine.” Of course, after 50 years of cruel, belligerent military Occupation, it should be obvious that the defenceless Palestinian people have simply been abandoned to the demands of the Occupying power.

Is Brownlee utterly ignorant of Benjamin Netanyahu’s avowed position? The Israeli PM, uncompromisingly, asserts that a Palestinian state would not be established on his watch and, speaking in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Har Homa, he promised to increase construction there, saying it was “a way of stopping Bethlehem from moving toward Jerusalem.” He was reported in the Times of Israel as saying: “I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state today, and evacuate areas, is giving radical Islam an area from which to attack the State of Israel.” So much for ‘negotiations’. They have only ever been a cover for the gradual realisation of the Zionist enterprise.

On 15 June, ACT Leader David Seymour published a Press Release, saying: “Israel has always been a friend of New Zealand, and for good reason. We share basic but vital values of democracy and individual freedom.” Has Seymour forgotten that Israel sent its Mossad agents to this country in an attempt to illegally obtain a New Zealand passport? The plot involved getting hold of a passport in the name of a tetraplegic man who had lost the ability to speak. The Act Press Release even asserted that New Zealand and Israel “share basic but vital values of democracy and individual freedom.”

We should ask David Seymour what other so-called democracy does he know of that uses soldiers to take prisoner terrified children and blindfold them before illegally removing them for interrogation! The methods used often amount to torture. What sort of democracy treats 20% of its citizens as second-class and steals its neighbours’ land and water resources? What other democracy has violated so many provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention and been subject to so many UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions condemning its behaviour?

We must tell Gerry Brownlee that, after 50 years of brutal intransigence, if Israel doesn’t feel comfortable with UNSC Resolution 2334, it knows what to do. There must be an end to impunity for Israel. Israel’s victims deserve the full support of the international community and if Security Council Resolutions are to really mean anything practical then they must be enforced with sanctions. The international grass-roots organisation Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) leads by example. We must never surrender to ideology the hard-won human rights enshrined in international law.

Palestinians blamed for power crisis Israel caused in Gaza

15 Jun

BACKGROUD VIDEO: Power cuts in Gaza cause humanitarian crisis. PressTV interviews Yousef Al-Helou, 27 April 2017

By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 14 June 2017

UN blames Palestinians for electricity crisis Israel caused in Gaza

A senior UN official is blaming Palestinians for the severe suffering Israel is inflicting on residents of the Gaza Strip with its decision to drastically curtail electricity supplies to the territory where most households already have no more than about three hours of power each day.

Robert Piper, the UN humanitarian coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territories, acknowledged on Wednesday that without immediate action the electricity crisis will bring about the “collapse of vital life-saving, health, water, sanitation and municipal services.”

Health services, including vital surgeries, have already faced severe cuts and disruptions since the crisis worsened in April.

UN parrots Netanyahu

But Piper is echoing the Israeli line that Palestinians themselves are to blame. His statement calls “upon the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Israel to put the welfare of Gaza’s residents first and to take the necessary measures to avoid further suffering” – as if all these bodies are equal in their power and responsibility.

Piper adds: “Early this week, the Israeli cabinet agreed to a reduction in the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip, following a decision by the Palestinian Authority to reduce its monthly payments for that supply by 30 per cent.”

Piper warns that “[i]f, as a result of the Palestinian Authority’s instructions, this decision is implemented the situation will become catastrophic.”

Electricity would then go down to about two hours per day for most people in Gaza.

But Piper’s absurd formulation that the Palestinian Authority is giving “instructions” to a vastly more powerful military occupier follows the line put out by Benjamin Netanyahu.

Palestinians protest against electricity shortages in Gaza City in January, one of the ongoing and worsening effects of Israel’s 10-year blockade of the Gaza Strip (Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)

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‘English abdicates independent foreign policy over Israel’

15 Jun
Kennedy Graham, Green MP on Wednesday, June 14, 2017

NZ Green Party statement: Bill English’s apology for condemning illegal Israeli settlements shows that New Zealand will not have an independent foreign policy under a National-led Government, the Green Party said today

Bill English is reported to have written a letter to Israeli officials saying that he regretted “the damage done to Israel-New Zealand relations as a result of New Zealand co-sponsoring Security Council resolution 2334”.

“The Prime Minister’s decision to write and ‘express regret’ to Israel for condemning its illegal settlements shows that trade, not principle, guides Bill English on the international stage,” said Green Party global affairs spokesperson Dr Kennedy Graham.

“It shows a lack of moral strength from Bill English to waver on a legitimate, principled stance as soon as a country like Israel throws its weight around.

“These illegal settlements make it harder and harder for there to be peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. Every new settlement takes away productive land from Palestinians and increases resentment

“Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee emphasised economic links between Israel and New Zealand when he first walked back the National Government’s condemnation of the illegal settlements.

“International pressure is needed to stop Israel from continuing to build settlements on land belonging to the Palestinian people,” said Dr Graham.

 

Israeli troops fire on fishermen & farmers in Gaza – again

15 Jun

International Middle East Media Centre, IMEMC News, Gaza, 14 June 2017

Israeli soldiers and navy opened fire, on Wednesday morning, targeting a few fishing boats in Palestinian territorial waters, and against farmers, in the northern and southern parts of the Gaza Strip.

Eyewitnesses said the soldiers, stationed on military towers, across the border fence east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, fired many live rounds at the farmers, in their own lands close to the border fence.

The attack did not lead to any injuries, but forced the Palestinians out of their lands, in fear of further military violence.

Furthermore, Israeli navy ships fired many live rounds at fishing boats, in Palestinian waters, in the northern and southern parts of the Gaza Strip, forcing the fishermen back to shore.

The attacks are part of constant violations carried out by the army and the navy against the Palestinians in the impoverished Gaza Strip.

NOTE: Kia Ora Gaza supports the Solidarity with Gaza Fishers campaign of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition which aims to link the struggle of Palestinian fishers in Gaza, under blockade and under constant attacks by Israel, with their counterparts in countries all over the world, and to build international civil society support for the end of Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza.

Kia Ora Gaza is part of this international coalition – facilitating New Zealand involvement in the last two Freedom Flotillas to Gaza. Check out the new FFC website for the Solidarity with Gaza Fishers campaign: sgf.freedomflotilla.org/

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