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Israel wages war on Gaza population

Published Dec 9, 2007 11:02 PM

It is the elephant in the living room that the participants at Annapolis refused to see. While talking “peace” they have looked away from the military and economic war waged on the 1.4 million Palestinian people who live in Gaza.

Gaza is under siege. Israel, with the full backing of the U.S., has blockaded Gaza for six months. This barren strip of beach, overcrowded with refugees expelled from their homes in Palestine in 1948, was already the poorest and most overcrowded part of the occupied territories. Today, the civilian population is being slowly strangled, in violation of international law and human decency. Yet it was not a topic on the Annapolis “peace” agenda.

At the same time, Israel uses U.S.-supplied weapons to daily bomb Gaza neighborhoods.

According to the Nov. 27 British Guardian, after six months of blockade, the number of Gazans now depending on United Nations food handouts to survive is 1.2 million, or 86 percent of the population. The private sector recently collapsed due to the blockade, resulting in the loss of 80,000 jobs and an unemployment rate over 50 percent.

Israel has further reduced gasoline and diesel supplies entering Gaza, so that every gas station is now closed. This fuel is also used for cooking stoves. Israel plans to soon begin cutting electricity to Gaza.

Infant mortality in Gaza is now 25 per 1,000 live births, and many expect it to climb, as Gaza is running low on medicines needed for the vulnerable. A Nov. 27 Guardian article, entitled “Sick are in the frontline as supplies and hope drain away for isolated Gazans,” quotes the health ministry in Gaza, which says there are no stocks left of 85 essential medicines, including chemotherapy drugs, strong antibiotics and several psychiatric drugs. For another 138 medications, there are stocks only for three months at most. Supplies of nitrous oxide for surgical anesthesia will run out in two weeks.

“Aid officials working in Gaza say the reality of life here is barely understood abroad. ‘You must be on the ground for days and weeks to begin to appreciate the full horror of the situation,’ said John Ging, the Gaza director of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which works with Palestinian refugees. ... ‘By what other definition or name can these sanctions be described, other than arbitrary collective punishment of a civilian population, helplessly caught in the middle of a conflict?’

“‘We are on the verge of a real catastrophe,’ added Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Center for Human rights. ‘What is the meaning of international law? Is it just something for academics to discuss? This is the law of the jungle.’”

It is up to the mass movement worldwide, and especially in the U.S., to defend the people of Gaza. Protests and meetings are needed to demand an end to this brutal blockade and to expose the U.S. role behind it.