Besieged Gaza: An Israeli High Crime Against Humanity
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org - Home - Stephen Lendman)
Since 2006, Israel illegally imposed a politicized medieval siege on Gaza, isolating the Strip and its people from the outside world, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Humanitarian crisis conditions grip the Territory. Nearly all of its water is unsafe to drink because of raw sewage pollution, high salinity levels, and sporadic electricity.
In the last decade, three preemptive Israeli wars of aggression devastated Gaza and its vital infrastructure.
Israeli terror-bombing and cross-border interventions occur at its discretion.
Since peaceful Great March of Return demonstrations began on March 30, 2018, Israeli snipers killed hundreds of Gazans, wounding countless thousands more, many seriously.
B'Tselem earlier said Gaza "is the scene of a humanitarian disaster that has nothing to do with natural causes. It is entirely man-made, a direct result of official (ruthless) Israeli policy.
Blockade was imposed over a dozen years ago for political reasons unrelated to security. Its regimes "sentence(d) (its) two million people…a life of abject poverty and…inhuman conditions."
An earlier UN report said without significant Israeli policy changes, Gaza has no chance to recover normality. The Strip will be unlivable by 2020.
It's been this way for years, conditions incrementally worsening over time.
Israeli regimes control essential to life aspects of life in the Strip, including border crossings, its airspace and offshore waters, its exports and imports, its cross-border people traffic.
Isolating Gaza from the rest of Occupied Palestine is part of Israel's divide and conquer strategy, the rule of law and human cost of no consequence.
Oslo guaranteed that Gazan fishermen could operate up to 20 nautical miles offshore. Israeli regimes never permitted it beyond 12 nautical miles, many times reduced to nine, six, or closer distances to the shoreline.
Fishing is banned altogether in waters bordering Israel and Egypt. Time and again, Gazan fishermen are assaulted and arrested, their boats and equipment confiscated for the "crime" of fishing.
Years of suffocating blockade crushed the Strip's economy. Unemployment exceeds 50%, over 60% for youths, over 70% for women. Underemployment affects most everyone with jobs.
Around 80% of the population depends on humanitarian aid to survive, most Gazans enduring a perpetual state of food insecurity.
Woefully insufficient power prevents hospitals from operating normally. The same goes for lack of essential medicines and equipment.
Gazan students can't study in the West Bank or abroad without special permission rarely granted.
Gazan professionals can't interact with their West Bank Palestinian counterparts or other outside the Territories.
Seriously ill Gazans can't travel for treatment outside the Strip for treatment not available internally without special permission most often denied.
A vast area bordering Israel was declared off-limits to Gazans, including much of its valued arable land. Farmers and family members entering their land near Israel's border risk being lethally shot or wounded by live fire.
Israel's open-fire policy permits cold-blooded murder of Palestinians throughout the Territories, accountability almost never forthcoming.
Without advance notice or warnings, Israeli aircraft spray toxic herbicides on Gazan farmland and crops. Vast border areas were destroyed by cross-border incursions.
On November 27, a joint Palestinian Center for Human Rights/Palestinian Medical Relief Society conference on Gaza's "health sector from a human rights perspective" discussed the disastrous effects of blockade on the Strip — what's vital to change but won't as long as an Israeli siege remains imposed.
Dr. Bassam Zaqout explained Gazan hospitals, medical clinics, are woefully insufficient, explaining that "each 100,000 persons are served by 0.8 healthcare center, 1.4 doctors, and 0.1 specialist physician" — far below the global average for undeveloped countries.
Dr. Fadel al-Muzaini said since blockade was imposed, 60,000 Gazans needing treatment not available internally were denied permission to get it in the West Bank or abroad.
Dr. Saja Ftaihah explained that Israeli attacks on Gazan medical personnel over the past decade killed and wounded hundreds, along with damaging or destroying medical facilities and ambulances.
While Gaza suffocates under protracted siege, the world community sits on its hands, closes its eyes, and does nothing to help its long-suffering people.
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