It takes a certain amount of willful ignorance to state, as my friend has below, “There is no humanitarian disaster in Gaza.” According to the UN, 61% of Gazans are food insecure. Chronic malnutrition has surpassed 10%, with women and children especially suffering. Many hospitals and primary care facilities were destroyed by Israel, which does not permit cement or glass to be imported for reconstruction.
The majority of Gazans have no electricity for 8-10 hours per day on account of Israel having destroyed the area’s only power plant and not permitting it to be rebuilt. Something close to 100% of the water in Gaza is contaminated, because the sewage system has been destroyed, and the Israelis will not allow materials into Gaza that might fix it. The WHO has reported that “In the Gaza Strip, private enterprise is practically at a standstill as a consequence of the blockade. Almost all (98%) industrial operations have been shut down.”
The above figures are taken from this article at Foreign Policy, which lays out more of the crisis in detail.
The Israelis claim to be blocking only items that can be used as weapons, and yet they have prevented many food items from entering Gaza, such as fresh meat, canned fruit, and certain spices, which obviously have no weapons use. This chart from the Economist lays out some of the things which have been blocked.
The BBC has further details about the costs of the occupation and blockade, including revelations like this:
- the number of Gazans that the UN helps who are unable to buy basic items such as soap, stationary and safe drinking water has tripled since 2007
- Gaza unemployment is near 40%, so many people cannot buy supplies even when they are available
- The UN’s FAO says $180m of trees, fields, livestock, greenhouses and nurseries were destroyed during operation Cast Lead. The Palestinian Authority estimates 15% of agricultural land was destroyed
All of this is being done to punish the Palestinians for electing “the wrong government”. While Hamas has certainly committed acts of terrorism, it is clear that the effects of the occupation and the blockade amount to terror wielded against the Palestinians. We condemn Osama Bin Laden when he justifies attacks against Americans by saying that America is a democracy and the people have chosen their government, yet when we see the Palestinians elect a government we do not like, we find it justifiable to commit terror against them. I say “we”, because I am an American, and because America is Israel’s partner in these efforts. If we did not finance and defend these actions, we would not be culpable. Alas, we are.