While the news media has died down, the reality of the situation in Palestine–in all of Palestine–has been grim. But the excitement has died down and somehow this ridiculous media-driven election campaign is far more important than covering what’s going on in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kenya, Sudan or any other place that demands some serious media attention.
But there are facts on the ground. The Egyptians closed the Rafah border and things in Gaza have not improved. The Israeli supreme court ruled against international law stating that they will not only keep fuel and other necessary supplies from entering Gaza (under the Fourth Geneva Convention they are required to not only deliver such aid themselves, but they are also not allowed to hinder the delivery of such items):
Currently, the Gaza Strip is suffering from a 20% deficit in electricity. During the winter, the demand for electricity in the Gaza Strip is approximately 240 mega-watts or more per day, depending on the weather. Currently, Gaza is receiving 120 mega-watts sold by Israel and 17 megawatts supplied by Egypt to Rafah. Gaza’s power plant is able to produce 80 megawatts per day, but the restrictions imposed on the supply of industrial diesel sold to Gaza limits the power plant to generating just 55 megawatts. As a result, the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company (GEDCO) is unable to provide the electricity needed to operate hospitals, water pumps and schools, and so institutes rolling blackouts across main lines. Some humanitarian institutions have back-up generators, but the restrictions on the supply of diesel have disrupted the operation of the generators, too.
Israel controls Gaza’s borders and does not allow Gazans to purchase fuel except via Israeli-controlled crossings.
The petition was submitted on 28 October 2007, the day that Israel cut supplies of petrol (benzene), diesel, and industrial diesel to Gaza. Residents of Gaza purchase fuel from an Israeli company and receive it via Israeli-controlled crossings.
A prior decision of the Supreme Court temporarily prevented Israel from cutting supplies of electricity sold to Gaza by Israel’s Electric Company. Today’s court decision allows the direct electricity cuts to be implemented on 7 February 2008.
The organizations which petitioned the Supreme Court are: Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights-Gaza, The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Al–Haq, and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights.
Israel actively violated other international laws this week when they decided to build more illegal settlements in Al Quds (Jerusalem). Facts about Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) continuing to raid the West Bank and starve the people in Gaza. Here is the toll from just last week:
* 6 Palestinians, including a child, were killed by IOF.
* 4 of the victims were extra-judicially executed by IOF in the southern Gaza Strip.
* 13 Palestinians, mostly civilians, plus 4 international and Israeli human rights defenders, were wounded by IOF gunfire.
* IOF conducted 26 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank.
* IOF arrested 42 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children, in the West Bank.
* IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT.
* Palestinian newspapers have not been allowed into the Gaza Strip for the 2nd consecutive week.
* IOF troops positioned at various checkpoints in the West Bank arrested at least 11 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children.
* IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attacks Palestinian civilians and property.
* An Israeli settlement outpost to the north of Hebron was expanded.
More elaborate details such as the names of the people killed and narratives accompanying these brief items listed above can be found on the Palestinian Center for Human Rights website. The IOF invaded Beit Lahem (Bethlehem) as well as a number of other towns and villages, and injured and killed people close to dear friends of mine:
Qusay Al-Afandi from Duheisha refugee camp, died from bullet wounds sustained in clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli military forces during an Israeli army operation.
Israeli forces invaded the southern West Bank city on Monday afternoon in a rare daylight incursion. They withdrew seven hours late, after killing Al-Afandi and wounding seven other civilians. One resistance fighter was also seized.
Medical sources reported that nineteen-year-old Abdulkareem al-Atrash, from Duheisha refugee camp, was shot in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet. The source added that Yousef Abu Srour, from Aida refugee camp was wounded in his leg, in addition to twenty-nine-year-old Salem Al-‘Orouj, from nearby Tiqua village who was wounded by live ammunition that penetrated his knee as he was walking home from work.
Thirteen-year-old Mohammad Za’areer was hit with a live bullet in his head and a rubber-coated steel bullet in his arm. His condition was described as serious but stable after surgery in Beit Jala hospital, according to the medical source.
Witnesses reported that a number of Israeli military jeeps, bulldozers and armored vehicles entered the area amid gunfire, tear gas and sound grenades. Israeli soldiers blocked a number of roads and broke into Palestinian houses.
A confrontation ensued between the invading Israeli soldiers and approximately 100 stone-throwing youths in Bethlehem’s Al-Madbasa area. Shots were fired by the Israeli forces, and five Palestinians have been injured, medics said.
More insight into the effect of the siege in its past is evidenced in the slow starvation policy of the Israeli government:
But Palestinians are dying from the “diet” imposed upon them by the illegal occupier. A World Food Program study conducted last year revealed that half the Palestinian population is “food-insecure.” Indicators of malnutrition include being underweight, wasting, and stunted. Also as a result of the restrictive Israeli measures, Palestinian still-births in the West Bank rose by 52 percent in 2007. There are no such figures available for the Gaza Strip.
While the rest of the world continues to ignore the situation in Gaza, a set of letters written to the UN by Orthodox Jews is worth reading to remind us of all that is heinous in the Zionist state:
Below is a letter written by Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem to the UN
Secretary-General denouncing Israel’s actions. Nevertheless, the UN
Security Council decided to withdraw its demand to denounce Israel’s action
after a battle amongst the members which was subsequently held by the
Israeli delegation and backed by the United States. Israel’s foreign
minister Livni who expressed satisfaction with the withdrawal of the demand
said, “Israel should not have to apologise for actions aimed at defending
its citizens.” Yesterday’s ruling by the Israeli High Court sanctioning its
government’s October 2007 decision to cut fuel and electricity supplies to
the Gaza Strip is in direct contravention of international law which forbids
the collective punishment of a civilian population.
The protests and boycotts must continue if the Palestinians in Gaza are to
stand a chance against the powerful forces lined up against them. – SK
21 January 2008
To the esteemed Secretary-General of the
United Nations, The Honourable Ban-Ki Moon
from Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem and worldwide
about the current Zionist onslaught against the Palestinians
Dear Hon. Secretary-General:
It is with a heavy heart that we write you from the city of Jerusalem. For
sixty years the authorities of what is mischaracterized as the “Jewish
State” have been undertaking a vicious campaign of oppression and ethnic
cleansing against millions of Palestinians who currently still live in
historic Palestine and who are refugees from Palestine in other countries.
And they have been committing all these crimes in the name of the ancient
and holy Jewish religion! For sixty years the State of Israel been
desecrating and violating our sacred religion! For sixty years the State of
Israel has been flaunting international law and United Nation General
Assembly and Security Council resolutions! For sixty years they have been
bringing Mankind to the edge of world war, claiming to do so in the name of
Even today, as we write this letter, the Zionist regime is waging an
unrelenting war of starvation and suffering against the people of Gaza. In
the name of the sacred values of the Jewish religion we cry out to the
international community and especially the great powers and the United
Nations: Please use your skills to finally stop the vicious and insane
campaigns of the State of Israel against the Palestinians whose suffering
worsens from one day to the next under the heavy hand of occupation and
oppression, ethnic cleansing and discrimination!
Mr. Secretary-General, we beseech you to use your offices to work with world
leaders to stop this mad campaign of collective punishment and oppression!
Our holy religion teaches us values that are the utter opposite of those of
the State of Israel: we are taught by our Torah to live in harmony and
brotherhood, friendship and neighborliness.
The State of Israel is trying to use its military power to preserve its
ethnocracy and is demanding that the world community watch silently as they
continue to hammer the Palestinian People year after year with the most
sophisticated weapons of war. This cannot go on any longer! The
state-sponsored terrorism and collective punishment practiced by the State
of Israel must be condemned and stopped!
We fervently pray that G-d guide world leaders to take the necessary action
to stop the suffering of the Palestinian People, rein in the State of
Israel, restore the full rights of the Palestinians throughout their
homeland in historic Palestine, and thereby create peace not only in the
Holy Land, but also throughout the world. The world cannot stand by and
watch the State of Israel commit these terrible crimes!
Thank you kindly for your attention to this urgent matter,
Rabbi Meir Hirsh
January 16, 2008
To: Honorable Doctor Mahmud Al-Zahar
As Orthodox Anti-Zionist Jews we harshly condemned the brutal acts of
terrorism committed by the Zionist thug regime against the Palestinian
People. We wish to express our most sincere sympathies to all suffering
Palestinians, especially following the latest vicious attack of the Zionists
in Gaza. We also wish to express our most sincere sympathies to you
personally, Dr. Al-Zahar, for the death of your son, Hussam, at the hands of
the Zionists following on the tragic murder of your other son, Khalid,
several years ago at the hands of the Zionists. We pray fervently to God to
stop the vicious crimes of the Zionist regime and to dismantle that absurd
Zionist state and restore all the rights to the Palestinian People, both
those living inside Zionist occupied Palestine and in other countries as
Rabbi Meir Hirsh
An interesting debate on the situation was on Al Jazeera this week and can be seen in this two-part program, Inside Story:
And, last but definitely not least, remembering the legacy of Dr. George Habash, who has been maligned in the U.S. media obituaries. But as the ever-so-brilliant As’ad Abu Khalil narrates we see the beauty of his steadfast commitment to Palestinian resistance:
George Habash lived his life for Palestine — every minute of it. He represented a model of revolutionary struggle that is exemplary in its dedication and asceticism, no matter what one thinks of the PFLP or its long political and military experience. One should not hesitate from rendering a harsh judgment against the PFLP; ultimately it failed politically and militarily. And any evaluation of Palestinian political violence must be made in the context of Zionist mass violence that for decades had set out to destroy Palestinian society and resistance and replace it with its own exclusivist vision. But whatever that judgment it should not detract from an appreciation of the profound influence of the PFLP’s founder who helped shape the politics and worldview of a generation. The present political scene is devoid of any leaders of such character.
While this is just a short glimpse into As’ad’s obituary, it is worth reading the entire article as it is a wonderful tribute to an amazing Palestinian revolutionary who will be sorely missed by many of us who seek to liberate Palestine.