21/12/2007 05:30:00 AM GMT
*The people of Gaza, are purposely being deprived of basic foods and
medicines because they want to be free. *
/By César Chelala/
*It could, rightfully, be a cause of shame to the world. But the world,
besieged by violence and injustice, hardly notices it. The people of
Gaza, 1.4 million of them, are slowly and purposely being deprived of
basic foods and medicines by the so-called civilized countries in the
West and there is hardly a protest. And all this happens because the
people in Gaza want to be free and independent. Never mind that in the
process children and innocent civilians are killed or families
Dr. Mona Elfarra, a Palestinian physician and human rights activist,
thus describes a situation in her personal blog, "I don't know exactly
what was going on inside the little heads of the kids who were
preparatory school children, of Al Buriege boy's preparatory school. But
the two tiny bodies were shot, with many bullets, as I was told by my
colleagues at the emergency room at the Al Aqsa hospital…On November 10,
the dreams of two tiny kids has stopped forever."
who killed them are victims of the occupation, "…the occupation that
deprives the soldiers of their humanity, when under the false pretence
of Israeli security, daily crimes are committed against my country. And
against my people." This is particularly true in the lack of food and
medicines for the people in Gaza.
Most of the basic goods in Gaza are imported. Because of border
closures, there is limited delivery of those goods, in particular sugar
and wheat flour, which represent 80 percent of the caloric intake of
Palestinians. The majority of the population depends on food aid from
At the same time, the flow of exports leaving Gaza has practically
stopped, while the commercial and humanitarian goods allowed to come in
continues to decline. The Gaza Strip is practically sealed off from the
outside world. Approximately 80 percent of the population lives on less
than $2 a day. It is estimated that 70 percent of the potential
workforce is out of work or without pay. The Gaza Strip is not receiving
tax monies owed to by Israel, which amounts to almost half of its budget.
Also critical is the public health and medical situation of the
inhabitants of the Strip. The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates
that the public health system is facing an unprecedented crisis. UNICEF
reports that children are living in an environment of extreme violence,
insecurity and fear. Shelling and sonic bombs have increased children's
signs of distress and exhaustion.
UN agencies have appealed for Israel to restore full energy supplies to
the Gaza Strip, stating their concern over the status of the public
health system. "In the last months, the situation has become
intolerable, with problems of referral outside of Gaza for patients who
need specialized care that cannot be delivered in Gaza," states Dr.
Ambroggio Manenti, head of the WHO office for the West Bank and Gaza.
The Israeli government General Security Service (Shabak) cites
unspecified "security concerns" when denying medical patients exit
permits from Gaza, a situation that has been denounced by Human Rights
Watch and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel.) "Israel
denial of medical care to those in urgent need amounts to collective
punishment against the population, which violates international law,"
states Sarah Leah Whitson, director of Human Rights Watch Middle East
In June, PHR-Israel and Gisha, another Israel-based human rights group,
challenged Israel's restrictions on medical evacuees in Israel's Supreme
Court. One of those denied permission to leave Gaza was a 16-year-old
girl with a heart condition. "Israel has legitimate security concerns
about rockets fired from Gaza into civilian areas. But denying medical
treatment to a 16-year-old girl with a congenital heart defect doesn't
make Israel any safer," said Leah Whitson.
Leah Whitson's words are confirmed by Gideon Levy, the Israeli
journalist, writing in the Israeli newspaper /Haaretz/. "But we have no
right to do what we are doing. Just as no one would conceive of killing
the residents of an entire neighborhood, to harass and incarcerate it
because of a few criminals living there, there is no justification for
abusing an entire people in the name of our security. The question of
whether ending the occupation would threaten or strengthen Israel's
security is irrelevant. There are not, and cannot be, any preconditions
for restoring justice."
/-- César Chelala, an international public health consultant, is the
foreign correspondent for The Middle East Times (Australia.) He is also
a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award.
/-- Middle East Online/
They have figured out what caused the fire in Vice President Cheney's
office at the EOB...... Brimstone.