Israeli Government Prepares for Another Massacre against Palestinians
By Mike Chimenti
"It is a declaration of war and continues the criminal, terrorist Zionist actions against our people."
- Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesman, September 20th 2007
On September 20th, the Israeli government officially declared the Gaza Strip an "enemy entity" and warned that "Additional sanctions [would] be placed on the Hamas regime in order to restrict the passage of various goods to the Gaza Strip and reduce the supply of fuel and electricity."
These new and deadly pronouncements came into effect on October 25th and on the 28th, Israel began cutting the amount of fuel delivered to Gaza. According to the Israeli government, the reductions were to be between 8 and 11%, but Mojahed Salama, head of the Palestinian Authority's Petrol Agency, said that shipments of gasoline and diesel had been cut by 40-50%, and fuel oil for Gaza's electrical station cut by 12%.
Gaza Under Siege
In order to make sure that Palestinians realized the full measure of Israel's new aggression, the Sufa crossing, one of only three crossings into Gaza, was closed. Since the closure of the Karni crossing in June, the Sufa crossing had become Gaza's main lifeline with the world.
While the 1.5 million Palestinians trapped inside Gaza were left to suffer the effects of this latest siege, the Israeli government was debating the legal technicalities of severing the supply of electricity to Gaza, 60% of which comes from Israel.
On October 28th, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made customary "promises" that there would be no humanitarian crisis or disruption in the flow of medical supplies. These "promises" were not just difficult to believe because they came from the head of the Israeli state, but because Gaza's main hospital had been out of anaesthetics for a month when he made these "promises".
Two days later, Israeli Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, made it clear to the world that these new measures were not temporary. Speaking to reporters, Barak warned that "Every passing day brings us closer to a broad operation in Gaza".
Israel Punishes Hamas and Palestinians
All of these new aggressions are only component parts of the entire structure of the siege forced upon Gaza since the election of Hamas in January of 2006. Immediately following Hamas' landslide election victory, a clear signal as to the "kind of state" Palestinians wanted, Israel suspended all tax transfers to the occupied territories. Western countries were quick to follow, with Canada first through the gates in the race to cut all direct aid funding to Palestinians.
The already dire economic situation in this 25 mile long, 6 mile wide open air prison went from unbelievable to unbearable. In a further tightening of the screws, Israel imposed a complete economic blockade on Gaza in June after Hamas seized control from Fatah.
According to the UN World Food Program (WFP), 39% of Gaza's residents are unemployed and those who could find work saw their average annual earnings drop by more than one third from January 2006 to June of 2007. 66% of Gazans are poor and 16% extremely poor, living on less than $1.60USD per day.
More than 1.1 million people rely on the aid from the WFP to live, and according to the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development more than 30% of children in the Gaza Strip are undernourished.
How many more Palestinians will be sentenced to death by these new measures? How many more will die as a result of Israel's impending "broad operation in Gaza"?
Tragic Palestinian History
Since 1948, Israel has created more than 4.4 million Palestinian refugees and annexed approximately 93% of historic Palestine through the barrel of a gun. The history of Israel and its crimes against Palestine are an almost endless series of targeted assassinations, indiscriminate massacres and bombings of civilian targets, followed by hypocritical calls for "restraint" on the part of the victims of aggression.
Despite all the pressure exerted by Israel and its foreign backers on the occupied Palestinian territories, Palestinian resistance has not been stamped out. In fact, it is this continued resistance that Israel is using as its pretext for this new wave of criminal assaults and flagrant violations of the 4th Geneva Convention - most explicitly, Article 33, which expressly forbids the use of collective punishment.
"They aim to starve our people and force them to accept humiliating formulas that could emerge from the so-called November peace conference"
- Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesperson, September 20th 2007
In order to keep the myth of a 2 state solution alive, the US has announced a new "Peace Summit" to take place some time this November. Ehud Olmert and Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas have been holding meetings regularly over the last month, with 2 in the month of October alone, and Condoleezza Rice has made 8 trips to Israel this year. Israeli aid to the West Bank and Fatah was restored after Hamas claimed control over Gaza. The Israeli government has no diplomatic relations with Hamas and deals exclusively with Fatah, and with Israel's latest announcements their strategy for the conference has become clear.
Israel and the US will hold the 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip hostage in order to force Fatah into accepting a roster of new conditions before any "Final Status" talks are held. Despite Abbas' repeated calls for a timeline to discuss the borders of the two states, on September 21st, Secretary Rice insisted that "A timeline isn't wise at this point, but we will see if one is helpful later ...". Translation: If Israel gets everything it demands in the upcoming conference, the occupying power will graciously discuss a timeline in the future.
Hamas for a Peaceful Solution
Despite Hamas' repeated offers of a truce and/or negotiations about trade and traffic into and out of the Gaza Strip, Israel has refused to accept any conditions other than the unconditional surrender of all Palestinian resistance. The Israeli ruling class has made it clear to the world, time and time again, that they will give no quarter to the victims of their aggression.
"They are living under siege, in a big prison. This pressure leads to explosion."
– Khaled Meshaal, Exiled leader of Hamas, October 6th 2007
What more reason could the "international community" need in order to begin a wave of sanctions and political isolation of Israel? With all of the UN's bombast about no longer tolerating the abuse of human rights and the assertion of the industrialized Western nations that they have a "Responsibility to Protect" the people of "weaker" nations, where is their outcry for Palestinians?
The Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki Moon, asked only that Israel "reconsider this decision" to cut off food, fuel and supplies to a million and a half people. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice promised not to abandon "the innocent Palestinians in Gaza", but said she supported designating all of the Gaza Strip as an "enemy entity", after all "Hamas is a hostile entity to the United States as well."
The Carter Centre, former US President Jimmy Carter's "humanitarian" foundation issued the strongest criticism of Israel's new crimes, characterizing them "as the collective punishment of 1.4 million people for the actions of a few".
Israeli Government and Crimes Against Humanity
In the face of Israel's newest gruesome crime against Palestinians, it has become clear that if the Israeli state refuses to relent, it must face a complete international boycott. Led by the UN, the international bodies, relief agencies and rights organizations must not remain silent while Israel begins the slow starvation of the 1.5 million prisoners of the Gaza concentration camp.
Every method available must be brought to bear against Israel – sanctions, freezing of Israeli state funds, diplomatic isolation, and the creation of an international criminal tribunal for Israeli war crimes. Palestinians and the people of the world have waited long enough!
End the Siege of Gaza!
Boycott the Israeli Apartheid State!
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