By Ramona Wadi
The entire international community and institutions are treating Gaza as an experimentation ground. To compensate for the concordance in human rights violations against Palestinians in the enclave, there is no shortage of meager donations, ostensibly to provide humanitarian assistance, even as Israel profits from lucrative ventures with the same institutions and governments.
On Monday, Wafa news agency reported that the EU made a contribution of €15 million to the Palestinian Authority, which is supposed to aid social allowance payments to families in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Of the families that qualify for such assistance, 80 percent live in Gaza.
EU Representative Ralph Tarraf was quoted as having stated: “We believe that supporting vulnerable families in Palestine is fundamental to creating a strong and effective social protection system that leaves no one behind.”
The donor’s insistence on depoliticising humanitarian aid finds no reciprocity, thus creating an imbalance between the ability to deprive Palestinians of their rights through colonial and collaborative violence, and the financial assistance by international donors that is under PA administration. Such a system has deprived Palestinians of a political platform in terms of the humanitarian agenda while creating further ammunition for Israel and the PA in terms of international acquiescence to the violation of human rights. Thus, the elimination of politics from humanitarian aid creates a heavily politicised humanitarian system in which donors and oppressors are able to destroy Palestinian society under the cover of such purported donations.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian media agency AlRay reported a protest that took place in Ramallah demanding that the PA cancels its sanctions against Palestinians in Gaza, which have been ongoing since 2017 in order to force the enclave to surrender its anti-colonial resistance. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’ collective punishment against Gaza, upheld by Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, has contributed to the deterioration of life in the enclave, which has still not recovered from the destruction unleashed by Israel during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
Tarraf’s statement creates dissonance with Gaza’s reality. EU financial aid to the PA is not creating “a strong and effective social protection system”. This is partly due to the EU’s refusal to allow Palestinians to politicise humanitarian aid from their narratives. The majority of Palestinians have been left behind because international institutions have created a farce out of humanitarian aid that renders Palestinians subject to cycles of exploitation.
For humanitarian aid to make a difference the international community is under obligation to rethink its definition. To exist as it does now will require a disclaimer that financial aid given to alleviate humanitarian situations renders people in need subject to exploitation by donors and oppressors alike. With its gesture, the EU has legitimized both Israeli and PA violence against Palestinians by pointedly refusing to address the violations from their sources. Financial humanitarian aid in the hands of the oppressors has become the norm, thus allowing not only the monopoly over the distribution of any aid but also the authority to ensure that the discrepancy between aid and violations continues to increase.
– Ramona Wadi is a staff writer for Middle East Monitor, where this article was originally published. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.