By Dr. Elias Akleh
Gaza has been turned into a ticking bomb ready to explode any day. This started with US/Israel/Abbas trio conspiracy, according to Vanity Fair magazine, to topple the democratically elected Hamas-led Palestinian government. This resulted into Palestinian division and the isolation of Gaza Strip. To finish off Hamas leadership Israel had borrowed Nazi siege tactics of Warsaw Ghetto, and implemented a stricter version of it against Gaza Strip. Israel had gradually decreased the imports of all vital substances to Gaza, and since June 2007 had completely closed Gaza’s five border crossings, leaving all 1.5 million Palestinians to die from starvation, thirst, pollution, and lack of medicine. Israel had cut off all fuel supplies to Gaza including all UN agencies such as UNRWA; the agency devoted to provide health, education and food supplies to poor families.
Without fuel to generate electricity Gaza’s 32 wells had stopped pumping drinking water, 4 thousand other wells stopped pumping agricultural water causing the dry up of all major crops. Sewage treatment pumps stopped functioning allowing sewage to be spilled into the ocean leading to coastal pollution. Bakeries stopped functioning for the lack of flour as well as fuel. Fishermen could not sail their boats, and those who could were sunk by Israeli gun boats. All goods and food stuff are forbidden entry into Gaza. People are not allowed to leave Gaza by any means. 75% of the families live under the poverty line. With a total Israeli blockade of the area, Gaza has become the largest concentration prison throughout the whole history of mankind.
The word “blockade” is no longer adequate to describe the situation in Gaza, for Israel is implementing a graduated genocide against Gazans. Israel was not satisfied with turning Gaza into the largest concentration camp ever, but had sent its army to terrorize Palestinians, routinely raid Gaza’s cities, destroying civilian homes, razing fertile farm land, murdering civilians, and kidnapping young men. Latest major raid was conducted on Tuesday June 3rd where seven Israeli tanks and one military bulldozer crossed the northern border of Gaza, attacked farmers and razed their farm land. On Sunday June 1st ten Israeli tanks and five military bulldozers, covered with Apache helicopters, raided city of Khan Younes, razed large areas of farm lands destroying all crops, and withdrew after engaging Palestinian resistance fighters. On May 30th fifteen Israeli tanks and two military bulldozers invaded the Furta suburb of Beit Hanoun, razed its farm land destroying crops, rounded up men ages 16 to 60 years old in the center of town, and kidnapped at least 60 of them across the border. The Israeli terrorist army, air force, and gun boats shell Gaza’s cities daily. During the month of May alone the Israeli terrorist forces had murdered 45 Gazans mostly children under the age of eighteen.
Gaza’s children, comprising almost 51% of population, suffer the most. They suffer from malnutrition, anemia and other incurable diseases. Hospitals are at full capacity and are lacking all kinds of medicine. Without electricity hospitals could not operate incubators and other machinery resulting in the avoidable deaths of many new born babies and other patients.
Gaza Strip has been turned into a death camp, where death has become a daily incident.
Amnesty International has expressed great concern about the dire situation in Gaza, where families live on one dollar per day, and had condemned Israel’s collective punishment against people of Gaza. The EU’s External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner went on record speaking “against this collective punishment of the people of Gaza.” Javier Solana, the top EU foreign policy official, agreed in a letter statement to Electronic Intifada with the use of the term “collective punishment” describing Israel’s actions.
Other international officials such as John Dugard, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, affirmed that Israel’s actions, including the murder and wounding of Palestinian civilians, and the siege of Gaza constitute serious violations of international laws.
Describing the situation in Gaza former US president Jimmy Carter said: “It’s an atrocity what is being perpetrated as punishment on the people in Gaza. It’s a crime … I think it is an abomination that this continues to go on.” He described Israel’s blockade of Gaza as “one of the greatest human rights crimes now existing on Earth.”
In his fact finding mission to Gaza Archbishop Dismond Tutu, who in numerous occasions compared Israel’s policies with that of the apartheid in South Africa, also, called Israel’s blockade of Gaza as “an abomination”. He condemned the silence of the international community about Israel’s crimes saying: “My message to the international community is that our silence and complicity, especially on the situation in Gaza, shames us all.”
Ironically this abomination; this genocidal blockade; this greatest crime was helped, directed, and managed by the same hypocritical Western countries, who preach freedom and liberty and protection of human rights, urging to send troops to Darfur to protect its people from massacres, had invaded Afghanistan to free its people from the religious extremists Taliban terrorists, had invaded Iraq and murdered two millions of its people under the justification of freeing them from a dictator, condemned China for its occupation of Tibet, and called for independent state in Kosovo. Yet they don’t raise a finger or utter one word against Israeli terror against Palestinians. On the contrary they justify these crimes and support Israel’s terror, describing Israel as a “light among nations.” For them Israelis, “God’s chosen people”, are above all the laws. If Europeans consider their support of Israeli crimes repentance for their own Holocaust against their own Jewish population, then it behooves them to understand that such unjustified shameful support is facilitating Israel’s committal of another Holocaust against the innocent people of Palestine.
Western countries overlook the fact that Israel, with the third most powerful army in the world, is the aggressor and occupier of Palestine, and blame Palestinian freedom fighters for their legitimate resistance. They cite the rudimentary rockets, fired from Gaza in self-defense against Israeli occupiers, as justification for Israel’s genocide of the 1.6 million citizens of Gaza. Their twisted logic purports that Hamas is a terrorist group intent on destroying Israel, who is defending itself. If that is the case, then why is Israel imposing blockades against the many Palestinian towns within the Western Bank when no rockets had been fired against Israel from the West Bank for decades? Israel is building its imprisoning wall around major Palestinian towns, had erected more than 600 military check-points in between Palestinian cities, and routinely raids Palestinian homes in the West Bank. During a fact finding visit to the West Bank cities, David Hammerstein, a member of the European Parliament, condemned, on Saturday June 1st, the poor humanitarian situations in Palestinian cities especially in Al-Khalil (Hebron), as barbaric, adding that the cities are living under the ugliest form of Israeli occupation.
The naked truth is that Israel, itself and not Arabs or Hamas, is intent on destroying Palestine and its people. Israel had wiped Palestine off the map, had totally wiped more than 500 Palestinian villages off existence, is continually destroying Palestinian civilian homes and organizations, is razing Palestinian farm lands, is usurping Palestinian land and building illegal colonies, and has rejected all peace agreement offers by the Arabs including the Arab Peace Initiative that acknowledges Israel’s right to exist peacefully within recognized borders. Israel does not want peace. Its successive governments are adamant on fulfilling the ultimate Zionist dream of building “Greater Israel”. Arab Peace Initiative would destroy such a dream.
Since its democratic election Hamas government had offered Israel multiple long cease fire agreements, but Israel had rejected all of these offers, and kept on attacking Gaza. Hamas made numerous attempts to reconcile with the Ramallah’s Fatah PA through the mediation of other Arab countries but Abbas’ appointed government made irreconcilable conditions. Hamas pleaded with Egyptian President, Mubarak, to open Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt. When Egypt ignored this appeal Gazans used explosives to open passages through the fence and poured into Egypt to buy food and goods. Egypt responded by increasing their border guards, called in American contractors to build reinforced high wall at the border, and many of their officials and mouth piece media outlets accused Gazans of threatening Egyptian security and threatened to break the legs of every “infiltrator”.
Like Egyptian president other Arab leaders had joined in the blockade against Gaza. Their main goal is to keep their own citizens subdued and obedient. They do not want any national movement to wake up their sleepy citizens. As for their Palestinian brothers, they consider them citizens of another country. Some of the leaders lack the political will to help, others are under the mercy of foreign hostile pressures, while others are just as Zionist as the Israeli government.
Hamas orchestrated protests and marches towards border crossings demanding end of blockade but Israeli army met the peaceful marchers with live ammunitions and tear gas killing and wounding scores of them.
Worst from death itself is watching your young children, your old parents, and your siblings die of starvation, lack of medicine, and on the hands of Israeli terrorist army. Abandoned and pushed to die in a corner without any alternative Gaza Palestinians will not take it silently. They prefer to die struggling for their rights and for their freedom. This is the only choice left for them. So we have seen lately some military operations against Israeli occupation forces on border crossings. Soon every body in Gaza will join in and we could witness an armed Intifada. The imminent Gaza explosion is coming, and its effects will touch everybody; Israelis, Arabs, and internationals.
-Dr. Elias Akleh is an Arab writer of Palestinian descent, born in the town of Beit-Jala. Currently he lives in the US. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.