The Israeli piracy attack in international waters against the aid flotilla sailing to thwart a Gaza blockade once again highlights how Israeli intransigence has created an extraordinarily dire situation in the tiny Gaza Strip. After Hamas won the Parliamentary election in 2007, Israel with the help of Egypt effectively sealed off Gaza with "watertight" control over its sea, air, and land access, including the 8-mile border with Egypt. Gaza has been turned from an occupied territory to an imprisoned state to the point where it's termed as the "largest open-air jail on earth".
The illegal blockade has severely confined imports to essential medicines and the most basic food staples - a bare minimum supply of humanitarian goods has prevented all exports and blocked border-crossing almost entirely. Israeli strategy, with Egypt's tacit cooperation, is to bring down Hamas and force it to recognize the Jewish state. And to achieve the strategy, the devious plan is to strangle and starve the 1.5 million people of Gaza, crumble Gaza's infrastructure, and shatter the nerves of the populace so that they rise against Hamas and become subservient to Israel. Israeli destruction of thousands of buildings, which still lay in ruin for want of building materials, during the incursion into the Strip in January 2009, was part and parcel of the plan to keep Gaza under its thumb both poor and oppressed.
Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, characterized the blockade as a "massive form of collective punishment". To show how severe the punishment and how restrictive the blockade are, UNRWA, the UN relief agency for Palestinian refugees, lists household items that have been refused at various times by Israelis to enter Gaza, including light bulbs, candles, matches, books, crayons, clothing, shoes, mattresses, sheets, blankets, pasta, tea, coffee, chocolate, nuts, shampoo and conditioner. When Senator John Kerry visited Gaza in 2009, he was surprised to learn that pasta was not permitted in. "Israel does not define pasta as part of humanitarian aid, only rice shipments", a UNRWA official told Senator Kerry.
Though Egypt denies any collaboration with Israel in the blockade of Gaza, however the inhuman blockade could not be effective and successful without Egypt's very cordial cooperation; it has helped, not so covertly, to enforce the blockade by not only keeping its border with Gaza closed for goods transportation but also by refusing any peace convoy into Gaza with vital humanitarian aid for the besieged and starving people.
When the desperate Gazans dug tunnels near the Egyptian border to bring in food, medicine, and other every day commodities, denied to them under the embargo, Israeli warplanes and the Egyptian border patrol destroy them. Egyptian authorities fill the tunnels with poisonous gas, killing people inside them. Since it's difficult to discover and monitor the secret tunnels, Egypt, under the mounting American and Israeli pressure, is constructing an underground steel wall along its border with the Gaza Strip in a bid to prevent digging of tunnels into its territory. The wall is said to be nine to 6 miles long, and 60 to 90 feet deep into the ground. Egyptian sources say it will be impossible to cut or melt the steel barrier, a perfect noose to kill the lifeline that had kept "the caged animals barely alive."
Israel, a considerably small country, gets away with all the things that it does, and it does so without repercussions and with complete impunity - invades and occupies the territory of neighboring countries, flagrantly violates the human rights of the people it occupies, bulldozes Palestinian homes and farms, exiles natives from the occupied territory, ignores United Nations resolutions, systematically flaunts international law, sends death squads to foreign countries for target killings - the list of international crimes and crimes against humanity at home perpetrated by Israel is very long and getting longer by the day.
How does Israel get away with such vicious crimes of international dimension that are characteristics of only a rouge and pariah state?
Jews who support the Israeli State in general enjoy tremendous power and influence in Washington and European capitals and in the world Press. Their power of influence can be seen from getting the Balfour Declaration in 1917, to the U.S. veto of the U.N. resolution in 1976 calling for recognition of the Palestinian right of self-determination, even to making scrutiny of the holocaust a crime in some European countries, and now to U.S. refusal to censure Israel for the bloody massacre in international waters. In the Reagan Administration alone, the most pro-Israeli administration, the U.S. invoked the veto 18 times to protect Israel, and thus gave it a free hand to play havoc in the region.
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