Saturday, 1 December 2007

The Great Siege of Gaza - Part 1

Very few reports come out of Gaza these days, because most international news agencies avoid the place. But read See Gaza and Weep if you want to know how things really are:


The purpose of our visit was to bring moral support to elderly Fr. Manuel, who ministers to his flock, runs an excellent school (for Christians and Muslims) and is revered as a local hero. Should he ever leave Gaza, the Israeli authorities will not allow his return, so he has allowed himself to be incarcerated there for 9 years. He’d had no visitors since February and when he heard we were coming, said a colleague, he burst into tears.
...Israel has banned fishing off the Gaza coast, ruined the livelihoods of 3,000 licensed fishermen and their families, and impoverished the local diet. The military fires on boats that defy the ban.
...Gaza is just 365 sq km - 45 km long, up to 12 km wide and entirely sealed from the outside world by an Israeli fence guarded by watchtowers, snipers and tanks. Israel controls Gaza’s airspace, coastal waters and airwaves. A vast prison with air-strikes, beach shelling, troops, tanks, armoured bulldozers, uncaring of civilian casualties.
...Gaza could easily blossom into a coastal paradise; a prosperous, independent trading state. But Israel's hatred of Gaza and its people is terrifying. The economy is strangulated and for 1.5 million souls, life is hell.
...Flour to make bread has doubled in price; cement for concrete to repair damaged homes and infrastructure has gone up 1,000 percent! Some schools are having to teach three shifts a day. It is truly a humanitarian crisis, as the UN and various charities have repeatedly warned Western governments. A friend emailed: “Today in Gaza ... we have no cement to build graves for those who die.”
Cancer patients: Of 450 patients 35% are children and 25% women. They are forbidden to leave Gaza for medical treatment or surgery. For many, there is no medication because cancer drugs cannot cross the border.
Hemodialysis machines: Of 69 machines in 4 hospitals 20 are out of order. Israel blocks supply of spares deeming them not humanitarian items. 3 more have exceeded their design

Stock levels

Zero stock of 85 items of essential medical drugs.
Zero stock of 12 items of essential psychiatric drugs.
2 weeks’ stock of anaesthetics for surgery, after which the theatres will close down.
Zero stock of X-ray bags and sterilization bags.
Near zero stock of stationery: medical files and examination forms. These are re-used several times risking errors in documentation.
Severe shortage of cloth and dressings, barely enough body bags and hospital bed covers. Zero stocks of patients' food in all hospitals.
2 weeks’ stock of hospital cleaning fluids.
Diesel and gas stocks for under 15 days.

The total number of people who died as a result of the border closure since June has risen to 44. (Refers to hospital patients only)

It is estimated that a thousand patients – advanced cases of kidney disease and cancer and those badly injured by Israeli air-strikes - need immediate transfers. In the meantime, Israel blackmails chronically sick patients. If they agree to inform on relatives and friends they can cross the border for treatment… if not they can “stay in Gaza and die”.

...back to Erez and its state-of-the-art de-humanisation, to shuffle through a maze of steel gates, cattle pens and a sinister X-ray machine, on Israeli command, and queue interminably for questioning by the rudest people on earth.Only 50 or 60 people had gone through the crossing that day, so the 3-hour hold-up was entirely down to Israeli bloody-mindedness.

...tell us, Mr Gordon Brown, why is Britain complicit in such a base and cowardly scheme? We hit bottom in Iraq… how much lower can we sink?

Then see this:
"A matter of revenge": Israel denying medical treatment to Gaza
"Upon arrival at the Erez crossing in northern Gaza, the Shabak officers start interrogating patients, demanding them to give the Shabak information about friends and neighbors. When a patient refuses to give such information, the Shabak sends him back to Gaza," explained Miri Weingarten of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR), based in Tel Aviv.

Gaza's only power plant was bombed by Israeli F16s in June last year.

High Court orders state to delay planned power cuts to Gaza at least one week, pending a full presentation detailing the proposed operation.
...the justices upheld the state's plan to reduce fuel transfers to the Strip

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