Ann Wright, t r u t h o u t | Perspective – 2009-02-26 21:44:57
(February 25, 2009) — How do you rebuild 5,000 homes, businesses and government buildings when the only way supplies come into the prison called Gaza is through tunnels? Will the steel I-beams for roofs bend 90 degrees to go through the tunnels from Egypt? Will the tons of cement, lumber, roofing materials, nails, dry wall and paint be hauled by hand, load after load, 70 feet underground, through a tunnel 500 to 900 feet long and then be pulled up a 70-foot hole and put into a waiting truck in Gaza?
The gates to Gaza slammed shut again on Thursday, February 5, the day our three-person group departed Gaza, having been allowed in for only 48 hours. The Egyptian government closed the border crossing into Gaza, continuing the sixteen-month international blockade and siege. The crossing had been briefly open to allow medical and humanitarian supplies into Gaza following the devastating 22-day attack by the Israeli military. The attacks killed 1,330 Palestinians and injured over 5,500.
The Israeli government said the attacks were to punish Hamas and other groups for firing unguided rockets into Israeli, rockets that over the past two years have killed about 25 Israelis. Most international observers have called the Israeli response to the rocket attacks disproportionate and collective punishment, elements of war crimes.
Today, seventeen days after the gates swung closed on Gaza, they remain firmly locked. Cease-fire talks in Cairo between the Israeli government and Hamas are stalled. Opening the border with Egypt is a contentious point in the cease-fire negotiations.
For the people of Gaza, rebuilding their homes, businesses and factories is on hold. Over 5,000 homes and apartment buildings were destroyed and hundreds of government buildings, including the Parliament building, were smashed. Building supplies, cement, wood, nails and glass will have to be brought in from outside Gaza.
Two cement factories in northern Gaza were destroyed by Israeli bombs. Prime Minister Olmert’s spokesperson Mark Regev said reconstruction supplies like steel and cement can be used by Hamas to build more bunkers and rockets.
Dissension in the Palestinian ranks between Fatah and Hamas continues, even after the brutal Israeli attack on Gaza. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad wants aid (perhaps as high as $2 billion) for rebuilding Gaza to be sent directly to each homeowner in Gaza, allowing donors to avoid the elected Hamas government.
The US, Israel and other countries have designated Hamas as a terrorist organization, and do not want international aid in Gaza administered by Hamas, even though the people of Gaza elected the Hamas government. On March 2, an international donor conference will be held in Egypt to discuss the costs of rebuilding Gaza.
Who Profits From War and Occupation?
Building supplies will have to be brought from outside Gaza. Israel controls 90 percent of the land borders to Gaza – the northern and eastern borders and 100 percent of the ocean on the west side of Gaza. Egypt controls the southern border with Gaza.
The Israelis who bombed Gaza will be the primary financial beneficiaries of the rebuilding of Gaza. They bombed it and now will sell construction materials to rebuild what they have bombed, exactly like the United States has done in Iraq.
Egyptians too will benefit financially from the reconstruction – high-priced small construction materials that will fit into the tunnels no doubt have been transiting through the tunnels for the past six weeks. Israeli women had created a web site detailing who profits from occupation.
No doubt a second web site is under construction that will track which Israeli, Egyptian and American companies will benefit from the bombing of Gaza.
Prisoner Exchanges as a
Part of the Cease-Fire
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his security cabinet said this week that no border crossings will be open until the Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit is returned to Israel. Schalit was captured by Hamas in 2006 in an Israeli cross-border raid into Gaza. Hamas has demanded the release of up to 1,400 Palestinian soldiers in exchange for Shalit.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Hamas “had no objection” to Shalit’s release if Israel would release 1,400 of the 11,000 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, including parliamentarians elected in Gaza in 2006. In the past, Israel has agreed to exchanges of large numbers of Palestinian prisoners for a few captured troops or their bodies. But Israeli and Palestinian officials had not agreed where the released prisoners would be sent after the swap. Israeli wants the prisoners expelled from the country and Hamas wants them returned to their homes in Gaza or the West Bank.
“Open the Borders” International
Delegation to Gaza
On March 5, I will be part of a 30-member international delegation that will travel to the Gaza border with Egypt in solidarity with the women of Gaza for International Women’s Day. Israeli women will be at the Israeli border crossing into Gaza. Groups all over the world will join in with pressure on the Israeli, Egyptian and American governments to open the border to Gaza and let the people of Gaza rebuild their lives. For more information about the international delegation, see http://www.codepinkalert.org/article.php?id=4675.
Ann Wright is a 29-year US Army/Army Reserves veteran who retired as a Colonel, and a former US diplomat who resigned in March 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. In December 2001 she was on the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. She is the co-author of the book “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”
• Thu, 02/26/2009 – 03:52 — arharris (not verified)
There is no international blockade of Gaza. Any international group or state or group of states can send a shipment of supplies by ship to the port of Gaza City. The only problem would be confronting an Israeli attempt to block the ship, or more accurately, to commit an act of piracy on the ship. If the international community had the will, it could easily provide protection for the shipment of goods with warships and aircraft.
• Wed, 02/25/2009 – 22:26 — Anonarcmous (not verified)
4get Israel->shouldnot muslim Egyptians throw the gates open and save their muslim brothers and families and save them from Gaza instead of always no doing.Why do they want non-muslims to take care of them by standards even they do not observe?Call the rich muslims fromsuadi, uarab [does that not mean something?]emirates and kuwait to help them?Like what are they waiting for??Are they afraid to ask? Will they be rejected?
• Wed, 02/25/2009 – 21:44 — radline9 (not verified)
I’m 58 years old, and I wonder how much time I have spent listening to this age old war between Palestine and Israel. I am willing to bet I have heard a couple of thousand hours on PBS alone. One has to wonder. It’s the munition makers who keep all these wars going, and if it wasn’t the US selling the weapons, it would be someone else. In order for all the conflicts in the world to end, there has to be some kind of international treaty to control all weapons, not just weapons of mass destruction. John Lennon said, “But I’m not the only one.”
• Wed, 02/25/2009 – 21:36 — Jade Queen (not verified)
Seeds and plants can come into Gaza. One can build very solid things with clay and rubble and a bit of fiber. Walls thick enough could be hard for the Israeli’s to knock down, and they should be tall enough so that a person on top of the wall could look in the eyes, straight across, of a hired Caterpillar driver like the one who drove over Rachel Corrie, the first U.S. martyr to Israeli brutality. Israel has become what it hates, the wealth from U.S. subsidies corrupting Israel and the U.S. The Israeli government sacrifices occupation aggressors so the war can go on forever. Soldiers who practice aggression take it home when they go. To think I once had hopes for the constructive potential of Israel. I still have hope for those individual Israelis who stand against corruption. Perhaps some day they will prevail against the forces of harm and brutality, macho gone wild. Even now, Israel could replace the food plants it has destroyed. If only there were a will for good, for a change.
• Wed, 02/25/2009 – 20:28 — Gordon UK (not verified)
Perhaps”Anonymous” (25 Feb) should ask Mike Cheney whether or not 9/11 would have taken place if Osama bin Laden had been bombed. He should, perhaps, also read “Crossing the Rubicon” by Michael C. Ruppert, which goes some way in explaining how and why 9/11 took place and, perhaps even more important, how it could have been avoided but like JFK’s murder, Marilyn Monroe’s “suicide” and the 2000 US election, we shall never know the truth because too many have too much to lose.
• Wed, 02/25/2009 – 17:19 — Anonymous (not verified)
Bombing the tunnels stopped the unguided rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel, -rockets that over the past two years have killed about 25 Israelis-, didn’t it? Can you think of a better endorsement to prevent fanatics from waging terror? If the US had bombed the Osama bin Laden al-Qaeda terrorist training camps, earlier, we might not have had 9/11.
• Wed, 02/25/2009 – 16:47 — Gordon UK (not verified)
Israel is compounding the destruction and slaughter in Gaza by refusing to open the borders for reconstruction materials, medication and food supplies. Is it not time that someone laid down the law to Israel and TOLD them what was going to happen, ie. that necessary supplies would be driven in – from Egypt if not Israel- under UN supervision and protection.
It should not be difficult for the US or UN to lean on Egypt to facilitate this. Israel’s truculence has gone on for too long. It has got away with far too much for far too long and it is about time it toed the line as far as UN resolutions and international law is concerned. The US could solve this problem at a stroke if it was genuine in wanting a settlement by threatening to withhold the annual $3-billion subsidy to Israel, most of which is used for more killing machinery.
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