Saturday, July 01, 2006

Israel's Gaza campaign hits most vulnerable people

ISRAELI armed forces continue to hit targets like electricity and fuel supplies in Gaza in what seems like a policy of inflicting maximum indiscriminate suffering on the civilian population. Actually the Israeli strategy is discriminate, I suppose, since disrupting essential services particularly hits the most vulnerable people - children, the sick and the elderly.

Thousands of people are without clean water supplies. Last night on the TV news we saw a family whose mother is diabetic and requires insulin injections. Her insulin supply is supposed to be kept cool, but with no electricity the fridge is not working of course, and even the food the family had bought expecting siege cannot be preserved.

Now to multiply that family's plight here are some figures, supplied by Izzat Darwazeh, a contributor to the Just Peace UK list: :

  • 700,000 Gazans without electricity and consequently without water since pumps have now stopped.
  • 420,000 children suffer from acute cases of mental distress due to sonic booms.
  • 200 newborns have had their incubators shut down.
  • 633 patients who live on kidney dialyses have had the machines that serve them shut down too.
  • 288 cases on life support machines have no machines to support them anymore
  • 828 severe asthma patients have had their respirators shutdown.
  • 1,000 patients have been forcefully discharged from hospitals to make way for newcomers
"Obviously not a case of 'collective punishment'!!", remarks Izzat wryly.

That's obviously what it is. As such, it is a crime under the Geneva Convention, as is the denial of essentials to a civilian population under siege, something which Israel was doing by economic means and blocking border crossings even before the present military offensive.

Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, a medical doctor and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, has warned of the public health and humanitarian disaster facing the Gaza Strip. Dr. Barghouthi reported that Israel’s destruction of Gaza’s only electrical power station has left 80 percent of Strip without electricity. A water plant was also bombed by Israel yesterday in the southern city of Rafah.

Without electricity there is no power for water or sewage pumps. Local power supplies and emergency generators for hospitals depend on fuel, yet Israeli closure of the Gaza borders leaves only enough fuel for a few more days. Some 300,000 of Gaza’s 1.4 million inhabitants live in high-rise apartment buildings which do not have the necessary generators to pump water up, and are therefore completely without water supplies. With high Summer temperatures and overcrowding, the effect of a breakdown in water and sewage systems is not hard to imagine.

Dr. Barghouthi has appealed to the international community to urgently call on Israel to end its bombardment, to stop the targeting of civilian infrastructure, and to allow for immediate repairs to begin on Gaza’s electricity plant. He also urged the international community to intervene in order to ensure the immediate supply of fuel, food, and other essential items to the Gaza Strip in order to avert an imminent humanitarian and public health catastrophe.

Watching the BBC news tonight, showing footage of Israeli bombing, and listening to the commentary continuing to pretend this was just an operation to free one captured soldier; and George W. Bush saying the soldier's release is the "key issue", I repeat what I said earlier - if you believe that, you will believe anything. Israeli papers, seeming less constrained, have both challenged the sense of their military's action and hinted that its aim was planned beforehand and had little to do with the captured soldier.

I think we must also ask - where is it, this "international community"? Where was it when Palestinians were slaughtered at Sabra and Chatila, where was it during the Srebrenica massacre? What "international community"? I can understand Dr.Barghouti making his desperate appeal, as he has to, for someone to come to the aid of his people.

But I'm afraid I can also understand why so many young Muslims come to believe there is no such community, that the whole supposedly "civilised" Western world is their enemy, and that they can only rely on their own willingness to sacrifice themselves.

They are wrong. But it is up to us to show them this, and by deeds of solidarity, not empty words.

To go with the bombing, a barrage of lies

AS if the mainstream media has not been doing a good enough job of telling it the way the Israeli government wants us to hear, the Zionist Establishment in Britain has decided to step up its propaganda effort. No reliance on amateurs giving out leaflets and writing letters to the papers, mind.

The Jewish Chronicle reported the other week: "On Wednesday, the board of Bicom, the British Israel Communications and Research Centre, agreed a multi-million pound action plan to be car­ried out over the next three years through existing organisations engaged in pro-Israel advocacy. These include the Jewish Leadership Council, the Community Security Trust and all three ma­jor political Friends of Israel groups [that's Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat]." (JC, June 23)

This brought a swift and pointed comment from one Jewish Chronicle reader this week:
"CONSIDERING that 20 per cent of Is­raelis, including one in three chil­dren, live below the poverty line, I’m glad that Israel’s supporters feel that the best way to help Israel is to spend millions of pounds on its PR!"
Deborah Fink,London N4

(Debbie added that if they really wanted to improve Israel's image they could begin by stopping it bombing Gaza, but the JC edited this from her published letter).

Israel's military-led politicians believe in "Guns before Butter!" (to borrow a phrase from another well-known propagandist); and whoever is funding this propaganda operation in Britain clearly feels that Israel needs all the PR it can get. As though the sound of the sonic booms and the guns shelling Gaza, and the cries of children could be drowned out by a sufficiently well-funded campaign.

Perhaps we should be told exactly who is finding those millions of pounds for this operation? Are any of the bodies involved registered "charities", and if so, will Auntie Beeb be interested in doing a Panorama programme looking into them, like the one which John Ware is reportedly preparing on the Muslim charity Interpal?

While they are at it (not that I'm holding my breath anticipating they will), they might ask why the Community Security Trust(CST), which is supposedly charged with protecting Jewish people and institutions in Britain from racial attacks, and enjoys a privileged relationship these days with the police, should be involved in an Israeli government propaganda campaign?

Jewish Socialists and other who were excluded from public events in the past by "heavies" from the CST's predecessor, the Community Security Organisation, might be interested. So should any independent-minded members of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, if such still exist. The CST supposedly comes under the Board's auspices, but people have sometimes asked questions about who was running it, and with what brief, and not always been given straight answers.

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At 11:50 AM, Blogger DesertPeace said...

Your threads on the crisis in Israel are always appreciated. I invite you to read my latest one...


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