On June 17, Israel's Cabinet issued a six point plan, agreeing to ease access for civilian goods entering Gaza without loosening inflexible security measures to restrict them. So what's changed? Not much. Increased truck traffic has been modest at best. The consumer ban was partially lifted, permitting previously prohibited items like ketchup, chocolate and children's toys.
Yet, banned products still include vitally needed industrial and construction items, unrelated to security concerns Israel claims, bogusly calling them "dual use." As a result, the promised ease is unfulfilled. Strangling Gaza economically continues. Raw materials, spare parts, essential equipment, and numerous other non-military related goods are denied. In addition, no policy change eased people movement into and out of Gaza, those inside effectively imprisoned, exports still banned, and humanitarian flotillas threatened with forcible interdiction, in some cases their cargos and personal possessions stolen to prevent essential goods and cash donations from being delivered.
In an August 22 Common Dreams article, Ann Wright headlined," "Israeli Soldiers Sell Gaza Flotilla Passengers' Computers and Steal Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars in Cash," saying:
"An Israeli newspaper has revealed that four to six computers (among the hundreds seized from Mavi Marmara passengers were) sold by an Israeli First Lieutenant to three junior military personnel. On August 18, a second officer was arrested in connection with the theft."
Labor Party MK Eitan Kabel called the revelation "embarrassing, humiliating and infuriating," but there's more. "Israeli commandos also took cash and credit cards from passengers," an estimated $1,000 or more from each, or at least $750,000, donations intended for Gazans. Four passengers alone had $68,000 stolen, money needy Gazans didn't get.
Other items were also taken, including cell phones, cameras, and electronic equipment, supposedly kept safe but not returned when passengers were released. No one so far has been held accountable, nor for the cold-blooded murder of up to 15 passengers, three commissions investigating them, including:
-- the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), hopefully a second Goldstone Commission;
-- Israel's Turkel Commission, the Netanyahu government's arranged whitewash; and
-- a second Ban Ki-moon appointed UN commission with former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe vice-chairman, a man tainted by corruption, scandal, and links to his country's drug cartels and paramilitary death squads, responsible for murdering thousands of trade unionists, campesinos, human rights workers, independent journalists, pro-democracy advocates, and others opposing Colombia's narco-state terrorism and ties to US imperialism - his appointment outraging activists demanding justice, not coverup and denial.
In an August 17 open letter, Besieged Gaza, Palestine, its members listed below, wrote Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, urging he demand Ban Ki-moon remove Uribe, saying:
"Mr. Prime Minister, it is an insult to the memory of those killed (including nine Turkish citizens on Turkey's Mavi Marmara) to have their blood 'redeemed' by a man who has a record of violations against human rights and international law. (He was) an accomplice in corruption and crimes against humanity....(He) supported the displacement of Afro-Colombian families from their ancestral territories in La Toma, Suarez, and kept silent against the denial of their economic and territorial rights. (He's also) a devoted Zionist, committed to the myth and fabrication of 'Israel's security.' "
It's obscene to assign this man "a duty to uncover crimes against humanity against citizens of your own country," ones he intends to suppress. (We) urge you now to take action (against him and defend) justice and accountability for Palestine through boycotting apartheid Israel, severing all diplomatic ties with it, and imposing sanctions against it until it complies with international law and ends its occupation, colonization and apartheid in Palestine."
Palestinian General Federations of Trade Unions
University Teachers' Association in Palestine
Palestinian Students' Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel
The Union of Palestinian Women's Committees
Association of Al-Quds Bank for Culture and Information
General Union of Public Service and Commercial Workers
General Union of Health Service Workers
General Union of Agriculture Workers
General Union of Food Production Workers
General Union of Petrochemical and Gas Workers
Progressive Trade Union Front in Palestine
General Union of Municipality and Local Councils Workers
General Union of Tourism Workers
Arab Cultural Forum (and)
One Democratic State Group
Relentlessly, Israeli Attacks against Gaza Continue
Under siege and regular assaults, Israeli crimes of war and against humanity persist. On August 17, mortar attacks destroyed homes in the town of Abasan. Also, Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered Farrahin, east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza. Residential homes were attacked.
On August 19, Israeli artillery shelled areas near Gaza City. No injuries were reported. Tanks and combat forces make regular incursions, area air space violated daily. Farmers are attacked on their land, fishermen at sea. On August 18, air attacks bombed tunnels, an area near Gaza City, and a central Gazan building belonging to the Al Qassam Brigades. The pattern repeats provocatively, mostly against civilians, always in violation of international law Israel disdainfully spurns.
B'Tselem Update on Gaza's Polluted Water
Headlined, "Water supplied in Gaza unfit for drinking; Israel prevents entry of materials needed to repair system," B'Tselem reports that "Almost 95 percent (of Gaza's water) is polluted and unfit for drinking," a topic addressed in two earlier articles, accessed through the following links:
The UN Environment Programme, Palestinian Water Authority, Coastal Municipalities Water Utility, and international aid organizations issued the above warning, estimating "it will take at least 20 years to rehabilitate Gaza's underground water system, and any delay" will cause further deterioration, perhaps requiring "hundreds of years" to fix.
The crisis arose "following over-pumping" of Coastal Aquifer water, an amount double what's needed to replenish it. As a result, it's permeated with salt water and other contaminants. Also, Cast Lead destruction, wastewater disposal into the Mediterranean for lack of enough power to treat it, and poor maintenance, from prohibited spare parts and equipment, caused more pollution and greater salinity.
Majed Ghanem, Gazan Coastal Municipalities Water Utility quality control director, said a late 2009 examination showed 93% of 180 wells tested had chloride levels four to eight times higher than WHO maximums and nitrate levels six times higher, making the water unsafe to drink. It also looks and smells bad, the Palestinian Water Authority saying almost 40% of Gazan diseases are water related.
Children lacking potable water are vulnerable to malnutrition, diarrhea, and stunted physical and cognitive development, even death. Agriculture is also harmed, both its quality, quantity and safety.
Under siege, essential materials and equipment needed to improve water quality, safety, and taste are banned, including pumps, pipes, generators, computers, cement and other construction items, as well as enough fuel, chloride, and spare parts. The ability to rehab infrastructure and wastewater treatment facilities is also prevented, Israel's bogus easing doing nothing to relieve Gaza's growing humanitarian crisis, one the Netanyahu government wants intensified, not relieved, part of his slow-motion genocide agenda against all Palestinians and Israeli Arabs.
A Final Note
On August 22, the IDF named Major-General Yoav Galant as new chief of staff, succeeding Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi who'll step down in February, tainted by scandal over charges of hiring a publicist to smear a rival candidate, police and Defense Minister Ehud Barak calling them untrue, but the damage apparently was done.
As head of Israel's Southern Command, Galant ran Cast Lead, responsible for extensive war crimes over a 23-day rampage of disproportionate slaughter and destruction, mainly against non-combatants, infrastructure unrelated to military necessity, and other civilian targets.
He embraces the Dahiya Doctrine, named after the Beirut suburb destroyed in the 2006 Lebanon war through similar disproportionate destruction to achieve military and political objectives.
During Cast Lead, Galant wanted to "send Gaza decades into the past," with no regard for international law or the safety and welfare of non-combatants. Next February, he'll perhaps lead it against all Palestinians and other regional targets, embracing the same strategy used on Gazans.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.