Thursday, January 6, 2011

Juan Cole on Gaza

The Norwegian newspaper Aftenpost has released a March, 2008, US embassy cable describing the Israeli blockade and siege of Occupied Gaza as an attempt to reduce the society to the lowest possible level of functioning without provoking a “humanitarian crisis” (presumably mass starvation).

“Israeli officials have confirmed to Embassy officials on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis.”

And, with regard to taking money out of circulation in Gaza, a deflationary policy used as a tool of oppression:

‘ As part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed to econoffs on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge ‘

It seems to me the Israeli right-wingers missed their mark, since 55% of Palestinians in Gaza are food-insecure and 10% of children show signs of stunting from malnutrition. I’d call that a humanitarian crisis. What the despicable Israeli officials meant by their phrase, of course, is that a mass die-off should be avoided that would bring to bear world pressure to abandon this criminal policy. The Israeli blockade of Gaza is illegal in international law and violates explicit United Nations Security Council resolutions. (Wasn’t defying UNSC resolutions given as a reason by the American Right for invading and overthrowing the Iraqi government?)

Although the MSM is putting the blockade in the past tense (“Israel intended”), it is still very much being pursued. Virtually no Palestinian made goods are allowed to be exported. A very slight easing of imports has been permitted, and Egypt is letting in some volunteer aid, as with the recent Asian flotilla. You wouldn’t want your own child to live as Palestinian children are mostly living in today’s Gaza.

This Israeli policy also violates the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 on the treatment of populations in Occupied Territories (yes, Israel still occupies Gaza even though it is not actively colonizing it any more):

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