Journal: Israel, Gaza Blocade, and F-35 Lemon

07 Other Atrocities, 08 Wild Cards
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Consider please the moral implications of concatenating the following events:

The Obama administration just humiliated itself by promising

  • to turn over $3 billion in stealth fighters to Israel, supplementing the 20 F-35s it will buy with the $2.75 billion in “grants” it gets from Washington (i.e., and thereby using taxpayer money to save the troubled F-35 program even as  our Nato allies our pulling the plug on the disastrously troubled F-35);
  • to veto any U.N. resolution that questions Israel’s legitimacy;
  • all in exchange for Israel’s pledge to extend a ten-month partial settlement moratorium for just 90 days.

But according to the Jerusalem Post (13 Nov 2010), getting a 90 day suspension of settlement construction is going to be tough.  The Israeli human rights group Peace Now just released a report saying that settler construction is booming.  The report says that ‘1,126 foundations have been laid in 45 days, compared to 1,888 for all of 2009’ and that  Settlers have built foundations for 1,126 new homes in the seven weeks since the moratorium on such activity expired.  Moreover,  ground has been prepared for another 523 homes, but the foundations for these units have not yet been laid.

And meanwhile, over in Gaza, the Israeli human rights group Gisha: Legal Center for Freedom of Movement just won an FOI court case to force the Israeli government to release official documents that reveal the obvious — namely that it is the Israeli government’s policy to inflict collective punishment on the Gaza people and that Israel’s blatantly illegal blockade of Gaza is not related to Israel’s national security (see below).  Nevertheless, the US still refuses to condemn the blockade or make its lifting a condition of continued  aid paid for by increasingly strapped US taxpayers.

Would it not be more better for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if the US government exhibited the courage to ally itself with the courageous Israeli human rights groups, like Peace Now, Gisha, and B’TSelem who are peacefully challenging the patently illegal policies of their own government?

NOVEMBER 17, 2010

“PUT THE PALESTINIANS ON A DIET”

MEDIA BURY DOCUMENTS REVEALING ISRAEL’S DELIBERATE POLICY OF NEAR-STARVATION FOR GAZA

http://www.medialens.org/alerts/index.php

Israel has been forced to reveal what Palestinians and other observers on the ground have known for a long time: that the blockade of Gaza is state policy intended to inflict collective punishment, not to bolster Israeli “security”.

An Israeli human rights group has won a legal battle to compel the Israeli government to release three important documents. These outline state policy for permitting the transfer of goods into Gaza prior to the May 31 attack on the peace flotilla in which nine people were killed by Israeli forces. The group, Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, is demanding Israeli transparency. Meanwhile, Israel refuses to release documents on the current version of blockade policy which was “eased” after international condemnation following the flotilla attack.

The released documents, whose existence Israel had denied for eighteen months, reveal that the state approved “a policy of deliberate reduction” of basic goods, including food and fuel, in the Gaza Strip. Gisha Director Sari Bashi explains:

“Instead of considering security concerns, on the one hand, and the rights and needs of civilians living in Gaza, on the other, Israel banned glucose for biscuits and the fuel needed for regular supply of electricity – paralyzing normal life in Gaza and impairing the moral character of the State of Israel. I am sorry to say that major elements of this policy are still in place.” (Gisha: Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, ‘Due to Gisha’s Petition: Israel Reveals Documents related to the Gaza Closure Policy’, October 21, 2010;  http://www.gisha.org/index.php?intLanguage=2&intItemId=1904&intSiteSN=113)

As Saeed Bannoura of the International Middle East Media Center reports, the Israeli government imposed a deliberate policy:

“in which the dietary needs for the population of Gaza are chillingly calculated, and the amounts of food let in by the Israeli government measured to remain just enough to keep the population alive at a near-starvation level. This documents the statement made by a number of Israeli officials that they are ‘putting the people of Gaza on a diet’.” (Saeed Bannoura, ‘Israeli government documents show deliberate policy to keep Gazans at near-starvation levels’, International Middle East Media Center, November 6, 2010 21:32;  http://www.imemc.org/article/59843)

Bannoura adds:

“This release of documents also severely undermines Israel’s oft-made claim that the siege is ‘for security reasons’, as it documents a deliberate and systematic policy of collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza.”

When Israel and the United States were reacting to Hamas’s election victory in Gaza in January 2006, long-time Israeli government adviser Dov Weisglass stated:

“The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” (‘Hamas readies for government, Israel prepares sanctions’, Agence France Presse, February 16, 2006)

The released documents contain actual equations used by the Israeli government to calculate the exact amounts of food, fuel and other necessities needed to do exactly that. (‘Submitted to Gisha in the framework of a Freedom of Information Act Petition, AP 2744/09 Gisha v. Defense Ministry’, Appendices B, C and D; http://gisha.org/UserFiles/File/HiddenMessages/DefenseMinistryDocumentsRevealedFOIAPetition.pdf)

The policy is all the more disturbing, indeed repellent, given that almost half the people of Gaza are children under the age of eighteen. One might reasonably conclude that Israel has deliberately forced the undernourishment of hundreds of thousands of children in direct violation of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention. … continued