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Of Policy and Justice: Israel, Palestine, and Gaza

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Rowan Wolf       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   6 comments

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Like all contending U.S. Presidential candidates, Barack Obama repeatedly voiced unwavering support for Israel. One of his first actions as President Elect was to appoint Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff. In doing so, he threw more water on the guttering hopes of the U.S. being a more balanced mediator in the seemingly endless Israeli - Palestinian debacle. (Only one President, Jimmy Carter, has spoken out on the injustice and inhumanity experienced by the Palestinians, and he waited for decades after he was out of office to speak out. Because of that he has faced criticism and censure.) The news for today on the most recent tightening of the Gaza blockade is that the UN has had to close its aid centers in Gaza because of lack of food. The Gaza strip is a 25 mile strip of land along the Mediterranean Sea between Israel and Egypt. It is the "home" to roughly 1.5 million Palestinians (BBC Gaza Profile). Of that population, an estimated 471,551 are located in eight refugee camps (Jabaliya (106,691), Rafah (95,187), Shati (78,768), Nuseirat (57,120), Khan Younis (63,219), Bureij (28,770), Maghazi (22,266), Deir el-Balah (19,534) (BBC Profile). In other words, within the blockaded Gaza almost half o the population is in refugee camps. In effect, Gaza has become a large prison camp. The current siege has been in place since June of 2007 after Hamas took control of Gaza (they had won the 2006 Palestinian elections). According to Trapped - collective punishment in Gaza:
The blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip over a year ago has left the entire population of 1.5 million Palestinians trapped with dwindling resources and an economy in ruins. Some 80 per cent of the population now depend on the trickle of international aid that the Israeli army allows in. This humanitarian crisis is man-made and entirely avoidable. Even patients in dire need of medical treatment not available in Gaza are often prevented from leaving and scores of them have died. Students who have scholarships in universities abroad are likewise trapped in Gaza, denied the opportunity to build a future. The Israeli authorities argue that the blockade on Gaza is in response to Palestinian attacks, especially the indiscriminate rockets fired from Gaza at the nearby Israeli town of Sderot. These and other Palestinian attacks killed 25 Israelis in the first half of this year; in the same period Israeli forces killed 400 Palestinians. However, the Israeli blockade does not target the Palestinian armed groups responsible for attacks - it collectively punishes the entire population of Gaza.
The siege of Gaza is punishing an entire population under the mantle of stopping militant attacks on Israel. The current shut down of aid into Gaza is in its tenth day (as of 11/15/08). Amnesty International and other organizations are calling for Israel to allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. The people in Gaza were already on a razor's edge of survival. The current shut down by Israel is making an already desperate situation impossible. Imagine yourself and your family and friends after 10 days without food, electricity, medical care or supplies. That is Gaza right now. I urge you to take one or more of the following actions: All of this may take a half hour of your time. Wouldn't you want someone to take a half hour to help you if you and those you love were starving in the dark? Other Resources Palestinian International Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza United Nations Development Programme: Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People American Friends Service Committee


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Rowan Wolf is an activist and sociologist living in Oregon. She is the founder and principle author of Uncommon Thought Journal, and Editor in Chief of Cyrano's Journal Today.

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