Alice Gray / ICH & Cherifa Sirry / Electronic Intifada – 2006-07-14 08:21:14
Summer Rain Over Gaza
Alice Gray / ICH
(09 July, 2006 ) — Consider this: an 8-km wide by 23-km long strip of arid land by the Mediterranean Sea containing a population of one and a half million people. This is Gaza, one of the most densely populated regions in the world, and the one of the most water-poor — second only to Kuwait. Over half of the population are refugees, expelled from Israel following the 1948 and 1967 wars.
The Strip bears the scars of 40 years of military occupation. The economy is in crisis, with over 30% unemployment (PCBS, 2005) and over half the population living below the official poverty line of less than $2 per person per day (PCBS, 2004).
Despite efforts by the Palestinian Authority and international donors, infrastructure is completely inadequate to serve the needs of the population. The decaying water system was running at 50% losses when it was passed over to Palestinian control after the peace agreements of the early 90s. The situation has not been improved by repeated Israeli missile strikes since 2000, smashing pipelines and destroying pumping stations.
The sewage system is even more inadequate. Only 60 % of the population are connected to any form of sewage network and there are only 3 poorly functioning treatment plants. Thus 80 % of wastewater is discharged untreated into the environment, infiltrating the ground and poisoning the groundwater, which is the only source of fresh water in the area (UNEP, 2003).
The quantity of freshwater available does not come close to meeting the basic demands of the population and as a consequence, the aquifer has been heavily over-abstracted for years, causing infiltration of sea water and deterioration of water quality. Currently only 10% of the water distributed in Gaza meets World Health Organization drinking water standards (UNEP, 2003).
Demand for food for the inflated population is high and cultivable land is scarce. Hence agricultural practices are intense, relying heavily on toxic agrochemicals which wreak further environmental destruction. Even so there is no food security and a high dependency on imported food from Israel, a supply that can readily be cut off by the simple expedient of closing the border crossings.
The water shortage is so severe and the demand for food so high that sewage water is sometimes used to irrigate crops, with obviously appalling health consequences. Put quite simply, Gaza is in a state of escalating humanitarian crisis: a large population with resources inadequate to sustain itself in a poisoned and deteriorating environment.
Consider this: Summer Rain over Gaza.
A rain of missiles shattering roads, schools, powerstations, pipelines and people. Shooting fish in a barrel. In such a densely populated area, it would be difficult not to hit something important.
Power stations and main transport routes have been deliberately targetted. The consequences? Inability to move food supplies, breakdown of water pumping stations and sewage treatment plants, further contamination of drinking water supplies as ruptured sewage pipes mingle their contents with drinking water supplies.
Most of the water wells in Gaza and all of the sewage treatment plants were powered by the destroyed power station which also constituted the only source of domestic electricity in the region (CMWU, 2006). In short, a humanitarian disaster has been precipitated, as food and water supplies run dry and hunger, thirst and disease become the daily reality of the beleaguered population. Summer Rain over Gaza: what exquisite irony.
The reason that has been given by Israeli leaders for this deliberate targeting of Gaza’s life support systems has been that it is necessary to “tear down the infrastructure of terrorism”. This statement begs two vital questions: firstly, what is meant by “terrorism”, and secondly, what is the “infrastructure of terrorism” or what sustains terrorism?
Terrorism is a controversial and subjective term with multiple definitions. One definition is “a violent action targetting civilians exclusively” (Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrorism). However, terrorism is defined by the US Department of Defense as “the unlawful use of — or threatened use of — force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives.”
The government of Israel, it seems, defines terrorism as any act of violence against any Israeli target, civilian or military, perpetrated by any Palestinian. Any use of force by Palestinians against Israelis is ‘unlawful’.
The current Israeli invasion of Gaza was ostensibly caused by the killing of two Israeli soldiers and the kidnapping of one more (Gilad Shalit) by Palestinian militants connected with the elected Palestinian government (Hamas). There are two points that are extremely pertinent here. One is that the action was against a military target; and the other is that Palestine has no ‘lawful’ army.
This being the case, actions undertaken by the military wing of the elected government against the deployed military personnel of an Occupying power are somewhat subject to interpretation in terms of their ‘lawfulness’ or otherwise.
The Israeli invasion, and indeed the entire military occupation of the Palestinian Territories, are themselves on similarly shaky ground with regard to their ‘lawfulness’. Civilian individuals and infrastructure have been repeatedly targeted and multiple UN resolutions have been passed declaring the illegality of such actions.
Furthermore, the objective of these actions, namely the furthering of the Zionist ideal, is political, religious and ideological, and few could argue that they do not constitute “coercion” of a democratically elected government. Hence under US Department of Defense definitions, Israel is certainly perpetrating acts of terrorism against the Palestinian government and society.
Palestinian terrorism against Israelis
Whilst there is some question as to whether the stated cause of the current conflict constitutes terrorism, the firing of Qassam rockets into Israeli civilian settlements and the suicide bombing of civilian population centers which have taken place in recent months fit more easily into generally accepted definitions of terrorism. So the question we must now ask is what drives such acts? Will destroying civilian infrastructure in Gaza help to prevent further terrorism?
It is doubtless true that terrorists, as human beings, are ultimately sustained by water, food and heat. Also, by Israeli definition, Gaza is a ‘haven for terrorists’. Thus by denying water, food and heat to large sections of the Gazan population, Israel will almost certainly harm some terrorists.
However, such a strategy could only really be effective in eradicating terrorism if the entire population of Gaza were annihilated along with the terrorists. In short: by genocide and ethnic cleansing. The absolute immorality of such a solution should be clear to the meanest intelligence. And yet, let us be clear, this is the strategy that Israel is currently pursuing.
This is quite simply not a sustainable solution to the problem and it is doubtful that it will be permitted by the International community. Hence if there is to be any resolution to the conflict, it is worth considering in slightly more depth what sustains Palestinian ‘terrorism’ against Israelis.
What can drive people to have such a disregard for human life that they are prepared to indiscriminately murder people they have never met and will never know, to take their own lives in the process, to abandon home and family and all that so many of us hold dear in life? What is the psychological infrastructure of terrorism?
It is popularly held that Palestinian terrorists are motivated primarily by religious idealism and rabid anti-semitism; that they are determined to wage a ‘jihad’ against Israel and all things Jewish, possessed by an innate hatred of Jews in general. There is certainly an element of this in the rhetoric of a number of resistance groups operating in Palestine which is avidly seized upon by Israeli politicians to reinforce the notion that there is ‘no partner for peace’ in Palestine. Thus it is assumed that the roots of Palestinian terrorism lie in an unreasoning hatred of Jews and that there is nothing that can be done about this.
It is the ‘unreasoning’ and ‘nothing to be done’ parts of this interpretation that are fundamentally flawed. The roots of terrorism against Israelis lie in hatred of Israelis. However, to assume that this is just some innate quality of Palestinians, or even to assume that the motivation for this hatred is simple anti-semitism is to remove it from the context in which it occurs. It is inaccurate.
In truth, what sustains terrorism and fuels anti-semitic rhetoric is the daily misery to which the people of Gaza are subjected. The wrenching grief and impotent fury of a caged, abused and traumatized population living in a rotting cesspool of poverty and despair. It is the lack of hope for a better life, the grinding poverty and the killing of loved ones that fuels terrorism.
As of May 2006, 2162 Gazans had been killed by the Israeli military since the outbreak of the Intifada (PCBS, 2006). 451 of these people were children. In the past month the killing has accelerated and the destruction escalated. Re-read the opening paragraphs of this article. Put yourself in the place of a Gazan. This is not unreasoning hate. And it is not an insoluble problem.
Gaza has been for 40 years under the heel of Israeli occupation. Half the population are refugees. The overcrowding, the poverty and the environmental degradation are direct results of the expulsion of Arabs from Israel proper and of retarded development since then due to Israeli Occupation.
Not only is it in Israel’s interests to alleviate the suffering of the Gazans, but it is furthermore their moral responsibility. Only when the Gazans are given the opportunity to experience emotions other than impotent fury and crushing grief will the infrastructure of terrorism be torn down.
The current Israeli strategy of communal punishment in reality strengthens that infrastructure, with every missile that falls, with every death. Summer Rain over Gaza waters only the seeds of hatred and the harvest will be bitter indeed.
Alice Gray is a British scientist working in the West Bank with a Palestinian environmental NGO.
What Your TV Will Never Show You:
The Realities of GAZA
Cherifa Sirry / Electronic Intifada ; El Osboa ; Egypt Daily News ; Egyptian Gazette
(July 11, 2006) — Friends, Its nearly 4 a.m. here and I decided to go back to my computer to communicate to my friends around the world what every single mainstream media channel…, whether American, European or Arab, is FAILING to communicate in regards to what is happening right NOW in Gaza, Palestine.
I have been in front of television for the past few hours monitoring the news and I was shocked to see NOTHING on Gaza except for on 2 local Arab channels and one Arab satellite channel which I shall not name for their own good…, lest the United States with its Israel lobby decide to shut down.
Even Al Jazeera channel, to my utter shock, didn’t so much as mention Gaza in its last 2 news broadcasts!!
Let me tell you my friends what I have been watching for the past few hours and what I am still listening to on my head-phones: Southern Gaza is in TOTAL DARKNESS. Three quarters of the television frame is PITCH BLACK while northern Gaza has a few lights. About an hour ago, Israel bombed with F-16’s the only power station left in Khan Younes plunging it in TOTAL DARKNESS too.
Do you know what it means to be without electricity for 10 days in today’s world??? No water, no sewage, no cooling, no storing of whatever food is left, no communications….etc.
As though this were not sufficient for those poor Palestinians, tonight, like every night, Israel has been bombing and missiling Gaza and flying over it all night with sonic booms to scare the people and especially the children who are totally terrified.
Yesterday a one and a half-year-old child died in an awful way of injuries sustained by Israeli bombing and mainstream media instead of covering it is allowing a terrorist like Ehud Olmert to take the microphone and tell the world that Israel never targets civilians. It has been 10 days now and all Israel has done is target civilians and kill dozens!
One of the strongest armies in the world has declared war on a population that does not even have an army! Water is lacking, food is scarce, medicine has run out, FUEL has run out… and Israel refuses to let trucks carrying supplies enter Gaza to save a civilian population which was already condemned to live in refugee camps because Israel kicked them out of their homes and stole them.
Even Palestinian hospitals hardly know how to operate. When Israel first bombed Gaza’s power mains, hospitals resorted to using their generators. But generators can only keep going if there is fuel…. and there no long is fuel. The sick and elderly who live on machines are slowly dying. Babies in incubators are dying.
With the increasing rubbish that can no longer be picked up from the streets, diseases are starting. A humanitarian disaster is taking place in Gaza NOW and Mr. Bush, his Israeli White House, his corrupt AIPAC stooge of a Congress, Mr. Bolton and Mr. Annan are laying the grounds for their attack on Syria and Iran…. and who knows what else. And the world is silent.
And mainstream media is behaving as though nothing were. All it cares about is that damned Israeli soldier that means ZILCH amid 1.4 million innocent civilians who had nothing to do with his capture!
Last, but not least…., NONE of this would be happening were it not for the American tax-payer who for decades financed and is still financing every bullet and missile being shot from Israel.
What does it take for the American tax payers to understand that they are ultimately paying for their own destruction? The US has created a monster that now controls it. US soldiers are fighting Israel’s dirty war in the Middle East. US soldiers are dying so that Israel can prosper. US families are losing their loved ones so that Israel doesn’t have to…. After all, what is an American goyim near an Israeli life.
American soldiers are kidnapped all the time in Iraq and they are not even mentioned in the news. Yet, when an Israeli soldier is kidnapped, the president of the United States himself comes out to speak on his behalf!
Where are the American people? Where is that great nation that we were all told represented “freedom” and “liberty”?? It is being held on a leash by Ehud Olmert and AIPAC.
At least in the Arab world we have the excuse of being the underdeveloped Third World. What is America’s excuse?
If only Americans knew that Israel will use them and dump them in a split second.
While I am writing this, I am watching the rescue of bodies from a building that collapsed in Gaza about an hour ago after it was bombed by Israeli F-16’s. I see panicked and scared Palestinians lighting the collapsed building with their torches and digging with their hands in the rubble to find survivors. I see a hand sticking out the rubble and it is still moving. A body is under a heavy concrete wall which no one can move without a bulldozer…, but there is no fuel and no bulldozer to help. Palestinians don’t have bulldozers.
I am writing this to my internet friends because it is my duty to relay what I am seeing. I cannot just go to sleep as though nothing were. Mainstream media world wide, is obviously complicit in the New World Order and I am hoping that the Internet community will stand out and will spread the news of Gaza, like we spread the news of Iraq.
I have recorded the horrible events of this evening… and of those past few days…, and I shall find a way to have this footage out. The world must find out what a criminal country Israel is.
Tomorrow also, unless my IP is blocked again, I shall be sending you interesting news on Israelis inside Iraq…., also something that mainstream media is conveniently forgetting to mention.
Regards to all, Cherifa Sirry