Besieged Gaza Two Years After Cast Lead - by Stephen Lendman
December 28 was Cast Lead's second anniversary, a three week onslaught inflicting an appalling human, destructive and environmental toll. The war ended. Regular attacks continued, and Gaza remains suffocating under siege. Yet world leaders are doing nothing to end it or hold Israeli war criminals accountable.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) said "Gaza remains sealed-off from the outside world (after) the single most brutal event in" the occupation's history, and "impunity for war crimes prevails."
To date, victims' rights have been unaddressed. International law remains ignored. Indisputable war crimes were airbrushed from history. Israeli war criminals were shielded from justice. Only three lower-ranking soldier were convicted for war-related offenses. One was for credit card theft, two others for using a nine year old boy as a human shield. Israeli government officials who ordered war, generals and top commanders who planned and implemented it, and other complicit figures were uncharged and unpunished.
World leader silence condoned them. The rule of law was trashed for imperial Israel, including allowing it to slowly suffocate over 1.5 million Gazans. Moreover, a newly released WikiLeaks cable says Israel plans major wars on Gaza and Lebanon. More on them below.
Preventing Gaza's Reconstruction
On December 21, the Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement asked "Who will rebuild Gaza?" Six months after Israel's cabinet decision to ease closure, a new Gisha report headlined "Reconstructing the Closure: Will recent changes to the closure policy be enough to build in Gaza," saying:
"Despite the cabinet's decision, Israel continues to ban the entrance of steel, gravel and cement, (essential) items which are not considered to be dual-use according to international standards." Narrow exceptions only were allowed with "burdensome bureaucratic strings attached."
For most items, Israel bogusly claims Hamas may use construction materials to build bunkers and "enhance its military capability" in other ways. As a result, little rebuilding progress has been made. Gaza remains in ruins, and over 1.5 million Palestinians struggle daily to cope.
For example, from July 6 - December 6, 2010, only 744 truckloads of cement, gravel and steel entered Gaza for international projects. In addition, up to 900 tons of concrete (equaling 36 truckloads), 300 tons of steel, or 250 tons of gravel move through tunnels on any given day. Though way short of enough, whatever's supplied helps. In contrast, prior to June 2007 (when siege began), over 5,000 truckloads of these materials came in monthly. Israel is determined to suffocate Gazans, committing the equivalent of slow-motion genocide.
Ongoing Gaza Displacement
On December 27, the Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights new report headlined, "On-going Displacement: Gaza's Displaced Two Years after the War," saying:
Two years after Cast Lead, "tens of thousands of Gaza residents continue to live a life of displacement" because of Israel's suffocating siege. As a result, they've gotten little "meaningful relief (or) their right to adequate housing."
After Cast Lead ended, UN Under Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes, said it's "absolutely critical that (construction) material(s) be allowed into Gaza on a regular and hopefully free basis."
For over two years, Israel's prevented them, collectively punishing tens of thousands of Gazans, unable to rebuild their homes and lives. Gaza's Ministry of Housing and Public Works said 51,553 homes were destroyed or damaged. Of these, 3,336 were completed demolished and 4,021 sustained major damages.
Most aid Gazans got came from Hamas, the UN Development Program (UNDP), and UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Other agencies also provided materials, equipment and food. Also, families whose homes were totally destroyed got cash. Refugee homeless families received about $5,000 from Hamas and a comparable amount from UNWRA. Others whose properties sustained major damage got about $2,500 from Hamas and another $3,000 from UNWRA.