International Law requires the occupiers to be responsible for the welfare of those they occupy. The Israeli government has been arguing in domestic courts that it no longer occupies the Gaza Strip, where 1.4 million Palestinians endure in an open air prison.
The Disengagement from Gaza in September 2005, when thousands of Jewish settlers were removed and the Israeli Army was redeployed was hailed internationally as a step toward peace, although Israel maintained all control over Gaza borders.
Israel's stronghold on Gaza has intensified since the January 2006 democratic and transparent election of Hamas to run the Palestinian Authority.
"The Islamic movement derives much of its political power from Gaza, and keeping the strip's rising militancy from spreading to the West Bank has become a top priority for Israeli security officials."-
"In court filings over the past year, the government has asserted that "with the abolition of the military government in Gaza and in light of the current security situation, the State of Israel bears no responsibility to take care of the various interests of Gaza
"Israel likens Gaza to a country such as Syria, with which Israel has maintained a hostile calm since 1973, and argues that "the responsibility over the economic situation in Gaza lays with the Palestinian Authority."
"The question goes to who is responsible for what is happening in Gaza," said Ruth Lapidoth, professor emeritus of international law at Hebrew University and a former government legal adviser. "In my view, only in the areas that Israel has not given up its responsibility does the occupation continue." [IBID]
The United Nations continues to designate Gaza as occupied territory.
Samir Hulileh, a Palestinian economist who has been involved in negotiations with Israel for more than 15 years has affirmed that Israel is trying to push the regions apart to prevent a viable Palestinian state. Residents of Gaza are only allowed into Israel each year for brief medical visits, the Israeli government bars them from entering the West Bank, which remains a closed Israeli military zone. Israel pledged in the 1993 Oslo accords to treat Gaza and the West Bank as "a single territorial unit" pending the creation of a Palestinian state. [IBID]
This June 9th, marks forty years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Olmert and Bush share historically low popularity and a lack of trust from their respective citizens. The good news is, that global nonviolent support is growing and in the summer of 2007, we the people of the world for justice and peace are rising up [intifada] and doing something.
International, Palestinian and Israeli civilians will sail to Gaza to challenge Israeli control and isolation of the 1.4 million Palestinians enduring in the world's largest open air prison. Gaza is the poorest area in the entire Middle East and the average family lives on less than $2.00 a day and unemployment is over 60%.
In November 2006, Father Manuel, the parish priest at the Latin Church and school in Gaza wrote:
"Gaza cannot sleep! The people are suffering unbelievably. They are hungry, thirsty, have no electricity or clean water. They are suffering constant bombardments and sonic booms from low flying aircraft. They need food: bread and water. Children and babies are hungry...people have no money to buy food. The price of food has doubled and tripled due to the situation. We cannot drink water from the ground here as it is salty and not hygienic. People must buy water to drink. They have no income, no opportunities to get food and water from outside and no opportunities to secure money inside of Gaza. They have no hope...
"Without electricity children are afraid. No light at night. No oil or candles...
"Thirsty children are crying, afraid and desperate...Many children have been violently thrown from their beds at night from the sonic booms. Many arms and legs have been broken. These planes fly low over Gaza and then reach the speed of sound. This shakes the ground and creates shock waves like an earthquake that causes people to be thrown from their bed. I, myself weigh 120 kilos and was almost thrown from my bed due to the shock wave produced by a low flying jet that made a sonic boom...
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