By Iqbal Jassat
A startling new revelation by Wikileaks claims that Israeli officials told their American counterparts of a secret policy to keep Gaza on brink of humanitarian crisis.
Classified ‘Secret’ it is addressed from US Embassy in Israel to Department of the Treasury, Secretary of State as well as Egypt, Cairo. Though the revelation is 5 years old [dated November 3, 2008] the shocking decision to punish Palestinians in Gaza is as raw and brutal as today.
In its summary, it records that since the Hamas takeover, Israel has designated Gaza as a hostile entity and maintained an economic embargo against the territory. This designation is used to justify a vicious stranglehold by keeping the Gazan economy functioning at the lowest level possible.
In line with this, the report claims that Israeli currency of shekels as the only currency of the Palestinian Territories is in Israel’s security interests and decisions regarding the amount of shekels in circulation in Gaza is treated as a security matter.
“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…”.
These revelations coupled with earlier ones point to a deliberate and calculated plan to not only punish Palestine’s Gaza population, but also to inflict the most terrible form of suffering on the world’s only open-air prison. It underlines an inexplicable paranoia by a regime that is nuclear-armed in addition to its army being rated the 4th most powerful in the world.
An area of confusion deliberately created by Israel is that Gaza is “Independent”. This leads to the perception of Gaza and Israel as two states poised against each other, with Israel as the “victim” of an “aggressive, terrorist” state. This of course is very far from the truth argues John Dugard, a South African professor of international law.
“The Palestinian Territory, including the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, remains occupied territory – occupied by Israel. Insofar as there is a ‘victim’ party, it is Palestine as inevitably an occupied party enjoys such a status vis-à-vis the occupier”.
Startling too is the realization that the military coup in Egypt that ousted a democratically elected government has not developed in a vacuum. That president Mohamed Mursi is facing death by execution on charges that he had “conspired” with Hamas and Hizbullah, is an indication of Israel’s role in reversing gains made in favor of democracy following decades of despotic rule by its erstwhile ally Hosni Mubarak.
Gaza is thus a casualty of Occupation by Israel and a devastating siege imposed via Rafah by coup-leader General al-Sisi. The brief respite that Palestinians in Gaza enjoyed during the short-lived euphoria following the popular overthrow of Mubarak has once again given way to intense human suffering. The collusion underway between coup-leaders and Israel to suffocate Gaza at a time when the global community was reignited in celebratory mood by an icon of human rights Nelson Mandela, stands in sharp contrast to his freedom struggle.
While Wikileaks has yet again confirmed Israel’s barbarism, it doesn’t mean that manipulating the Occupation to inflict maximum collective punishment on Gaza’s population is without consequence. An immediate priority would be to apply renewed pressure on the international community to compel Israel to comply with its obligations as Occupying power. In addition pressure needs to be applied on the African Union [AU] to take a tougher stance on Egypt’s blockade. This may sound to be an impossible task given that the Occupation is almost 5 decades in operation and the Sisi-regime has already been suspended from the AU.
However a formula can be developed by the AU if it values the continent’s revulsion for coups and human rights violations. A meaningful beginning can be made if leaders from Hamas and civil society formations in Gaza are afforded a platform by the AU to explain and articulate their plight. Once such a discourse is introduced to refocus global attention on the epic proportions of the humanitarian crisis, the sheer weight of moral indignation coupled with political pressure emanating from Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions will bite Israel as surely as it bit apartheid South Africa.
– Iqbal Jassat is an Executive Member of the Media Review Network, Johannesburg – South Africa. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.mediareviewnet.com and follow him through Twitter: @ijassat.