by Stephen Lendman
Life in Occupied Palestine is harsh, brutal, and repressive. It includes collective punishment, closed borders, economic strangulation, land theft, dispossessions, neighborhood incursions, ground and air attacks, arrests, torture, incarceration, and constant fear.
Daily reports explain. On March 27, soldiers and settlers invaded the al-Aqsa Mosque through the al-Magharba Gate. Inside they terrorized worshipers.
The previous two days, soldiers broke into Bethlehem, Hebron, Rommana village, and other West Bank homes. They ransacked them and arrested six or more residents. It happens virtually daily throughout the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, most often pre-dawn. Children are treated like adults.
For years, Gaza's suffocated under siege. On March 25, the Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement headlined, "Israel prevents hairstylists and students traveling out of Gaza," saying:
Five women and two men were denied. They requested permission to participate in the Tulkarem "Palestinian Beauty and Tradition Spring Fair."
Israel's District Coordination Office (DCO) said "in view of the current political-security situation, residents of the Gaza Strip are not permitted to enter Israel other than in exceptional humanitarian cases, with an emphasis on medical cases."
Gisha wrote DCO head Colonel Khatib Mansour saying:
Three applicants are independent businesswomen. "(A)approving their application to participate in the fair is particularly important. Everywhere in the world, including the Gaza Strip, fewer opportunities are available to women. Therefore, women must be supported to aspire for economic independence so that they can contribute to the development of their societies."
In addition, DCO prevented seven Gazan female students from traveling to Al-Quds University in Abu Dis. They were invited to participate in an international technology competition. Denial again was for not being an exceptional humanitarian case.
Under siege, Gazans face poverty, unemployment, shortages of everything, at times lack of vital to life essentials, and prohibition of exports except for occasional limited amounts of strawberries, flowers, peppers and tomatoes. However, getting them out is expensive, time consuming and unprofitable.
On March 28, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) headlined, "Occupied Lives: Dying while waiting for medical supplies," saying:
In 2009, Egyptian doctors diagnosed Gaza resident Akram Mones Abu Sefan with chronic myelocytic leukemia. Since 2010, Glivec kept him alive. It's a new drug able to significantly increase patient survival rates.
Even though cancer spread to other parts of his body, he says Gilvec "changed my life. Since I started treatment....the symptoms of the leukemia have subsided and I feel healthy again."
However, since January 2012, the drug's unavailable in Gaza's Central Drug Store. Under siege, Gazan authorities face enormous obstacles getting enough essential to life supplies, including medicines.
Procedures require Health Ministry officials requesting supplies from Ramallah's health authorities. They, in turn, must coordinate efforts with Israel for delivery.
However, the combination of Israeli harshness, Hamas/Fatah disputes, and financial problems limits the availability of essential medications and other vital supplies.
Akram's wife explained their ordeal, saying:
"My husband suffers from strong headaches and from pain in his legs. I try my best to cook food that can compensate the problems caused by his blood disease."
His doctor told them that interrupting treatment risks severe consequences. They include respiratory and kidney failure leading to death.
At present, 32 Gazan cancer patients depend on Gilvec to survive. Supplies ran out before. For a month and a half, Akram's treatment was interrupted. He depends on Gaza's Health Ministry to provide it. It costs $3,700 a month. It's far more than he or most other Palestinians can afford.
According to Shifa Hospital's Na'el Shih, 80% of medicines patients need aren't available. "We are dying in here. One hundred eighty six medicines are currently depleted from the Central Drug Store of the Ministry of Health in Gaza."
"The remaining stock will be finished within the next 2-3 months. (For the past) two months, there have been no hepatitis vaccinations for newborns in Gaza."
Expensive medications like Gilvec are especially hard to get or unavailable. Without them, patients suffer and face death.
Israel can easily save them. Too often, it condemns them to death while suffocating 1.7 million others under siege. It's official policy.
On March 28, Haaretz headlined, "Israel's contentious Bedouin relocation plan passes PM's Office panel," saying:
It calls for displacing up to 30,000 Israeli Arabs from their own land. In other words, stealing it like nearly half the West Bank. Known as the Prawar plan, Netanyahu's cabinet approved it last September. They want Arab land for Jewish development.
The plan involves "16 different ministries and agencies, including the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, and the Education, Transportation, Energy and Water Resources, and Housing and Construction ministries. Among the many officials who attended Monday's meeting was Prawer himself."
The announcement coincides with Land Day. Palestinians commemorate the IDF March 30, 1976 killing of six Israeli Arab protesters against Palestinian land theft. At the time, another 100 were wounded and hundreds more arrested.
On the same day, the BDS Global Day of Action is held "in solidarity with the Palestinian people's struggle for freedom, justice and equality and for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it fully complies with its obligations under international law."
In addition, a Global March to Jerusalem will be held after Friday prayers. Israel plans disruptive violence. It confronts Bedouin Arabs the same way. They've faced forced relocations for years, but nothing like on this scale. It amounts to racism writ large. All Palestinians and Israeli Arabs are affected.
A Final Comment
On March 29, Hana Shalabi's 42 hunger strike day began. She's so deteriorated she remains dangerously close to death.
For weeks, Palestinian solidarity protests rallied in support. On Wednesday, a Gaza one took place. Protesters marched on the ICRC's office. They demanded her immediate release.
Few people in America and the West know about her and other hunger strikers. Major media scoundrels say nothing.
Photos and posters of Hana adorn her family's home. One wall displays a large framed picture of her martyred brother, Samer. In September 2005, Israeli soldiers murdered him in cold blood like so many other Palestinians.
On March 19, Hana's parents met with PA President Mahmoud Abbas. They asked him to help secure Hana's release. He promised to do his best. He's done little or nothing.
According to Hana's sister Zahra, "Why does he call himself a president if he can't use his diplomatic powers to release my sister? I don't believe he's even trying."
When Hana was arrested in 2009, an Israeli officer said the PA provided a "secret file" on her. Abbas was complicit in her arrest then. Perhaps again this time on February 16.
He's a longstanding Israeli collaborator, a traitor to his own people. Israel arranged his election and keeps him in office even though his term expired in January 2009. Why bother with elections when coronations work better.
On March 29, an Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) press release headlined, "Administrative Detention Must Stop: Freedom for Prisoner Hana Shalabi," saying:
HRA "condemns the continual use of administrative detention against Palestinian political leaders and reminds that such policy constitutes a form of arbitrary detention devoid of the most basic standards of due process of law. The HRA is particularly concerned about the health conditions of Prisoner Hana Shalabi...."
HRA demanded international community help to free her and other Palestinians lawlessly held. International law supports them. So should world leaders and everyone.
Hana's lawyer, Jawad Boulos, heads the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) Legal Unit. PPS appealed to Israel's High Court for Hana's release. Boulos said all legal means will be used on her behalf.
Rarely ever does Israel's Supreme Court overrule a lower court decision affecting Palestinians. Expect little or no redress this time.
Palestinians are on their own to survive. Even those lawlessly condemned to die aren't helped. It shows Israeli and Western contempt for human rights and life.
Their imperial wars alone show it. Political prisoners fill their prisons. America and Israel especially defile principles they claim to support.
They don't now, never did, and won't ever unless mass outrage in both countries and other Western ones sustains struggles for systemic change. It's their only chance.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
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.