Sunday, August 06, 2017

Gaza - No Vision

 Gaza's tiny area of 360 square kilometres is home to 1.8 million people; a population density akin to that of Manhattan or Tokyo.  Food insecurity in the territory is at 72 percent and unemployment at 43.2 percent. Israel imposed the blockade on Gaza in 2007 following the return of a Hamas government in elections in 2006. While Israel may have withdrawn its settlements from Gaza in 2005, it remains the territory's occupying power under international law by controlling its borders, airspace and coastline.

Harvard scholar Sara Roy has meticulously researched the impact of Israel's policy-making on Gaza for thirty years suggests, "What is happening to Gaza is catastrophic; it is also deliberate, considered and purposeful." 

Roy argues that Gaza has been subjected to 'de-development' meaning that it has been "dispossessed of its capacity for rational and sustainable economic growth and development, coupled with a growing inability to effect social change". So, what we are witnessing in Gaza today is the 'logical endpoint' of this policy; "a Gaza that is functionally unviable".

Israel insists that the blockade is a security matter designed to keep Hamas at arm's length. The Israeli human rights organisation Gisha, argues that "the research contradicts Israel's assertions that the blockade is needed for security reasons." 

Wikileaks show that the Israeli government said their policy was aimed "to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge." 

 Israeli government adviser, Dov Weisglass, as having said in 2006, "The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger."  In 2012, an Israeli court forced the release of a government 'red lines' document which detailed "the number of calories Palestinians in Gaza need to consume to avoid malnutrition."
Sara Roy quotes the Gaza Community Mental Health Program which has found that "forty percent of Palestinians are clinically depressed, a rate unmatched anywhere in the world" with Gaza's Shifa Hospital receiving "up to 30 patients every month who have attempted suicide." Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights found that less than 50 percent of requests to exit Gaza for medical treatment through Israel's Erez Crossing were approved in 2016 and 43 cancer patients were refused permission to cross to seek treatment in the first half of 2016.  These can be a death sentence for patients in need of medical assistance. The World Health Organisation (2017) has said that the worsening electricity outages are "threatening the closure of essential health services which would leave thousands of people without access to life-saving health care." The Palestinian Authority's decision this summer not to pay the full fuel bill to Israel for Gaza's electricity supply is viewed as an attempt to weaken Hamas and wrest back control of the territory. 
Sara Roy regards the core goals of Israel is seeking is "to internally divide, separate, and isolate the Palestinians -- demographically, economically, and politically -- so as to ensure Israel's full control both direct (West Bank) and indirect (Gaza Strip) -- over all Palestinian lands and resources".

From here

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