Gaza's Suffocating Siege

Stephen Lendman

In early November, the Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement published a report titled, "Scale of Control: Israel's Continued Responsibility in the Gaza Strip."

It explained little changed after its alleged 2005 "disengagement."

A 2007 Gisha report titled, "Disengaged Occupiers: The Legal Status of Gaza" argued that as an occupying power, Israel's obligations continue.

Its new publication updates it. Despite Israel claiming no further responsibility, it exercises full control of Gaza's airspace, waters, borders, territory, infrastructure, power, and more. It collects customs and value added taxes for imported goods, conducts regular incursions, excludes most exports, and maintains a physical presence.

As a result, "it is impossible to say that (its) occupation of Gaza has ended and therefore, the international law of occupation continues to apply to Israel in the spheres in which it continues to exercise control over the lives of Palestinian residents."

Israel's thus obligated to fulfill its mandated responsibilities, including providing protection for people it controls.

No matter. Its officials spurn their legal obligations. Siege is illegally maintained. Passage of goods, services and people is severely restricted. Israel may control movement only for legitimate security reasons. Even then, Gazan needs can't be ignored.

"Because social and economic development, family unification, and access to education and proper medical care largely depend on the ability to travel and transport goods, Israel must allow freedom of movement (under international human rights law) at a level that extends beyond survival and allows for prosperity, development, and the realization of individual rights."

Without success, Gisha urged Israel to lift all restrictions and allow free passage of goods, services and people in and out of Gaza.

International law says one thing. Israel does another across the board with impunity. As a result, besieged Gazans suffering continues, mostly out of sight and mind.

In September the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) documented the economic and social impact of Gaza's siege. It also discussed the state of commercial and human crossings.

Data presented refuted Israel's claim about eased conditions. Severe restrictions remain, including over import of essential items and raw materials. As a result, basic needs go unmet.

During the reporting period, Karm Abu Salem crossing was closed one-third of the time without cause. Trucks entering represented one-fourth of the pre-June 2007 siege level.

Gaza's cooking gas crisis continues. Less than half of daily needs are supplied. Construction materials are totally prohibited, except for limited amounts allowed international organizations. Clean water is extremely limited. Vital medicines run out often.

Over a year since Israel's alleged easing, most restrictions remain, including limited numbers of patients able to travel to Israeli, the West Bank, or East Jerusalem hospitals for treatment unavailable in Gaza.

In addition, 33 international journalists, 49 diplomats, and 461 human rights workers got access "under complicated procedures," causing delays of several days or more.

Separately, PCHR discussed Gazan "buffer zone" restrictions as follows:

In violation of international law, Oslo, and other agreements, Israel's no-go zone includes two km of Gazan land and waters beyond three nautical miles. As a result, choicest fishing grounds are off limits.

Moreover, 30% of Gaza's agricultural land can't be worked, except at great personal risk. Fishermen are vulnerable within permitted zone limits, and waters therein are severely over-fished.

From January 1 - September 30, 2011 within the buffer zone, 27 Gazans were killed, 193 wounded, 18 arrested, and 57 houses and other personal properties destroyed.

During the same period, Israeli attacks included 27 incursions (over two per month), 53 bombardments (over one weekly), 38 firing incidents, two others caused by munition remnants, and 32 assaults on fishermen for a total of 152 attacks, around three weekly.

With full US support, Israel operates lawlessly in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Throughout the Territories, daily incidents occur.

On November 11, nonviolent protests took place in al-Ma'sara village near Bethlehem, Kafr Qaddum near Qalqilya, an-Nabi near Ramallah, Ni'lin, and Bil'in.

Numerous injuries and arrests followed. Israel security forces fired tear gas canisters directly at demonstrators. Three were directly struck and hurt.

Rubber bullets injured others, including a young child. Abu Hussam Tamimi was struck in the face, causing a hairline fracture, loss of blood and shock.

One resident was arrested on the ground being treated. In an-Nabi, journalist Bilal Tamimi was arrested for covering the protest.

Incidents like these and others occur regularly. Silence by international leaders effectively condones them. As a result, Israeli crimes go unpunished.

What can't go on forever, won't! Israel's accountability day is coming. Hopefully, Palestinians won't have to wait much longer.

Stephen Lendman: I was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. Raised in a modest middle class family, attended public schools, received a BA from Harvard University in 1956 and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of PA in 1960 following 2 years of obligatory military service in the US Army. Spent the next 6 years as a marketing research analyst for several large US corporations before becoming part of a new small family business in 1967, remaining there until retiring at the end of 1999. Have since devoted my time and efforts to the progressive causes and organizations I support, all involved in working for a more humane and just world for all people everywhere, but especially for the most needy, disadvantaged and oppressed. My efforts since summer 2005 have included writing on a broad range of vital topics ranging from war and peace; social, economic and political equity for all; and justice for all the oppressed peoples of the world like the long-suffering people of Haiti and the Palestinians. Also co-hosting The Global Research News Hour, occasional public talks, and frequent appearances on radio and at times television. I also am a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. I live in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit my blog site and listen to The Lendman News Hour on Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening. My new book "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War" can be ordered HERE.

Photo: Associated Press


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