It is interesting that no matter what major news stories are breaking in the rest of the world, the U.S. continues to be as insular and myopic as possible. It is as if the 2008 presidential election is the only story to report on. Unless a fire breaks out in a Las Vegas hotel. But otherwise not much else is on the radar screen. I’ve been watching the debates, usually disgusted by every single candidate on both sides–as if there were two different sides in the first place. But little gems like this, which solidify my disgust for Obama, appear on the Internet, if not on the evening news:
Dear Ambassador Khalilzad,
I understand that today the UN Security Council met regarding the situation in Gaza, and that a resolution or statement could be forthcoming from the Council in short order.
I urge you to ensure that the Security Council issue no statement and pass no resolution on this matter that does not fully condemn the rocket assault Hamas has been conducting on civilians in southern Israel…
All of us are concerned about the impact of closed border crossings on Palestinian families. However, we have to understand why Israel is forced to do this… Israel has the right to respond while seeking to minimize any impact on civilians.
The Security Council should clearly and unequivocally condemn the rocket attacks… If it cannot bring itself to make these common sense points, I urge you to ensure that it does not speak at all.
United States Senator
It is politicians like Obama who completely lack any moral compass who make me irate. Perhaps Obama is misguided and misinformed because he reads The Washington Post. This week the Post ran an editorial that a number of errors about Gaza, which either shows sloppy journalism (at best) and cold, calculated malevolence (at worst). One Letter to the Editor
corrects some of these errors (let’s see if this even gets published!):
The author(s) of Jan 24 editorial by the Washington Post claim that “no
one is starving in Gaza.” Apparently, the Post did not consult the
latest reports by the World Food Programme and the UN Relief and Works
Agency which call for immediate aid to be sent to the impoverished Gaza
Strip to “urgently prevent a humanitarian crisis.”
Basic research by the Washington Post would have also found that 79
percent of the 1.5 million Gazans live in poverty and approximately 70
percent of the Gazans live on less than 250 dollars a month and food
purchases account for 60 percent of household expenditures (World Food
Programme, Jan 11, 2008).
Nevertheless, it is people like this who perpetuate Israeli myths and propaganda in the media, or who intervene in International Humanitarian Law, who have no understanding of the Fourth Geneva Convention, specifically Article 55, which requires that Israel be legally responsible for supplying food, medicine, fuel, and water to the population it is besieging. The article reads:
To the fullest extent of the means available to it the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population; it should, in particular, bring in the necessary foodstuffs, medical stores and other articles if the resources of the occupied territory are inadequate.
The Occupying Power may not requisition foodstuffs, articles or medical supplies available in the occupied territory, except for use by the occupation forces and administration personnel, and then only if the requirements of the civilian population have been taken into account. Subject to the provisions of other international Conventions, the Occupying Power shall make arrangements to ensure that fair value is paid for any requisitioned goods.
The Protecting Power shall, at any time, be at liberty to verify the state of the food and medical supplies in occupied territories, except where temporary restrictions are made necessary by imperative military requirements.
The irony that this body of international law, which was created in response to the atrocities of World War II, has never been adhered to by the Zionist state (and, yes, most states in general ignore these laws, but that does not let Israel off the hook) is unimaginable as they work to create a slow genocide each and every day. And, because of U.S. complicity, yet another attempt at creating a UN Security Council Resolution against Israel has failed.
Israel is legally responsible for Palestinians in Gaza, but with the border now opened at Rafah (for who knows how long?) they are trying to shift responsibility to Egypt. Human Rights Watch reports that:
Some Israeli officials have suggested that the temporary breach in the Egypt-Gaza border means that Israel has relinquished all responsibility for Gaza. “We need to understand that when Gaza is open to the other side, we lose responsibility for it,” said Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai on January 24, 2008. “So we want to disconnect from it.”
It is hard to keep track of the Rafah border from so far away. Even media reports go back and forth on various news websites claiming alternately that Egypt promises the border will stay open, Egypt attacked people crossing the border to buy food, medicine, concrete, sheep, cows and other staples, that Palestinians re-opened the border, that Egypt closed the border,
There is more brilliant footage of Palestinians resisting the Egyptians, too, who were trying to shut them out with riot police:
I love Al Jazeera’s description of the Egyptian riot police as the new “human wall” in the above video clip. I also love the irony that the bulldozers that have so mostly been used to demolish Palestinian homes are now being used to demolish the apartheid wall keeping them from obtaining basic supplies.
But despite this amazing show of resistance and resilience, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) continue to bombard Gaza, most recently killing four in an air strike. On the other end of Gaza the IOF killed one Palestinian and injured another. And lest we think that they only attack Gaza, the IOF attacked Palestinians in Khalil (Hebron). And the IOF attacked a protest near Beit Lahem (Bethlehem).
For eyewitness accounts and analysis of what’s been happening in Gaza Ali Abunimah and Mohammed Omer (from Rafah) were on Democracy Now! this week describing the current conditions as well as a discussion of U.S. politicians’ complicity and indifference to what’s happening in Gaza.
For those who don’t know the context of Gaza there is a good briefing that lays out the basics on the Palestine Center’s website. There is also a good opinion piece in The Guardian by Karen Koning AbuZayd, who is the head of UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) about the current context of Gaza. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights has also compiled a list of the toll this current siege has taken on the people of Gaza.
There are still protests going on around the world in Montreal and Beirut and around the U.S. (see previous posts for locations). Here are photos from the Beirut protest at the Egyptian embassy: