Israel's Exclusion and Restriction of Goods to Gaza - by Stephen Lendman
After Hamas was overwhelmingly elected in January 2006, Israel, Washington and the West ended all outside aid, imposed an economic embargo and sanctions, and politically isolated the new government.
Stepped up repression followed, including regular IDF incursions, bombings, killings, targeted assassinations, arrests, property destruction, and Israeli-instigated internal conflict that left Fatah usurping authority in the West Bank, leaving Gaza alone under Hamas.
In June 2007, conditions worsened after Israel imposed its siege, medieval-like, according to some, for its harshness. Now, nearing its third anniversary, it's still in place, slowly suffocating and strangling 1.5 million people, trapped by closed borders, regular incursions and attacks, and shortages of everything needed to function and survive. A humanitarian crisis resulted and continues. The West and most regional states are culpable, complicit or indifferent to a real time catastrophe.
Israel's Policy of Exclusion and Restrictions
The Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement (http://www.gisha.org) is a 2005-founded Israeli NGO, "whose goal is to protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents" - rights international and Israeli law guarantee. Yet under 43 years of military occupation, Palestinian rights have been systematically compromised, abused, and violated, worst of all in Gaza under siege.
In January 2010, Gisha examined the situation in a report titled, "Restrictions on the transfer of goods to Gaza: Obstruction and Obfuscation," saying that:
"Beginning in September 2007, Israel openly stated that it would restrict the movement of goods into and out of Gaza (not for security), but (to) apply 'pressure' or 'sanctions' on the Hamas regime."
Earlier, claimed security concerns were cited - from open borders and goods through them, including "dual use" ones with military potential. Hereafter, a limited "humanitarian minimum" would be permitted excluding everything deemed not "essential for the survival of the civilian population."
What followed were exclusions halting exports, normal economic activity, production, agriculture, and availability of commonplace items like shoes, paper, school supplies, and tea called "luxuries." Gisha called it "economic warfare (and) collective punishment designed to weaken the (Gazan) economy as part of its warfare against the Hamas regime."
Because of Western complicity and regional indifference, Israel maintains tight control, squeezing the life out of Gaza, using Hamas as pretext, a government it doesn't control like Fatah under Abbas.
In a December 2008 paper titled, "Gaza Closure Defined: Collective Punishment," Gisha was blunt in calling Israel's action:
"Not a siege, not a blockade, not economic sanctions (but an imposed) closure for purposes of collective punishment (illegally in place to harm) the civilian population and civilian institutions by blocking the passage of goods necessary for health, well-being, and economic life." It's solely a political act for political gain, unrelated to security or military necessity.
Linking it to Hamas' use of rockets, its right to self defense under international law, is bogus on its face. Claiming foods, medicines, fuel for electricity and other essential to life goods relate to security is outlandish and illegal under international law.
A Gisha May 6 news release said that:
"After 12 months of unsuccessful (Freedom of Information Act) attempts (to) obtain (Israeli) documentation about (its) policy concerning the entry of food and other goods into (Gaza), and after claiming for many months that no such documents exist, Israel has finally admitted that it does indeed possess the information (including) a list of goods whose admission into (Gaza) is permitted." More on this below.