FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Siege of Gaza is Broken

by STANLEY HELLER

The Palestinian people took their destiny in their own hands and smashed down the wall that divided Gaza from Egypt. Hundreds of thousands of people left their prison and walked into Egypt and bought up food, fuel and everything else in sight. It took great courage to do what they did. Just one day earlier desperate Palestinians trying to get to the Egyptian side of Rafah were met by club wielding Egyptian cops and water canon. It would not have been beyond the gangster Olmert-Barak regime to have massacred the people from the air. Yet when the wall came down the people came rushing out.

The Times (UK) said the Palestinian forces leading the Strip (Hamas) have secretly “been involved for months in slicing through the heavy metal wall using oxy-acetylene cutting torches.” At midnight on the 23rd, seventeen bombs dropped the wall like Joshua at the battle of Jericho. Later a Caterpillar bulldozer widened the opening to provide access for automobiles. (What irony! Five year ago the Caterpillars in Rafah were used by Israel to murder Rachel Corrie) The UN estimates 350,000 Palestinians have gone across the border to buy food or to “breathe new air”. Egyptian Rafah was emptied of goods and some Palestinians drove on to El Arish some 45 km further inland.

Conditions in the Gaza Strip were desperate. Israel which had long prevented Gazans from leaving the strip for any reason had last week stopped deliveries of vital goods. Gaza City suffered a complete blackout. The AP quotesd Gaza Health Ministry official Dr. Moaiya Hassanain as saying, “We have the choice to either cut electricity on babies in the maternity ward or heart surgery patients or stop operating rooms.” Israel predictably said Hamas had cut off the elecricity in Gaza City as a propaganda stunt.

Food and fuel were not the only things in short supply. There,s a terrible need for spare parts, for medical equipment and for water treatment.

“We are a one-generator-failure away from disaster,” Michael Bailey, an Oxfam spokesman, told the Middle East Times. “The situation is verging on critical. There are 35 sewage pumping stations operational in Gaza. If one of the pumps breaks there is no way to replace it, because of a lack of spare parts,” said Bailey, whose organization works with Gaza’s Coastal Municipalities Water Utilities. “This would mean sewage backing into homes and onto the streets and the resulting health problems associated with it.” In March an earth embankment around a sewage reservoir in the northern Gaza Strip collapsed spewing a river of waste and mud that killed at least five people.

Ironically, though Gaza is one of the most crowded place on earth it is not without resources. In 2000 the British firm British Gas Group (BG) discovered proven natural gas reserves of at least 1.3 trillion cubic meters beneath Gazan territorial waters worth an estimated $4 billion. A deal was being worked out with the a Palestinian investors group, but was put on hold due to the Western embargo of the Palestine Authority after the Hamas, victory. There has been some speculation that Israel has been so pitless against Gaza not because of the relatively small loss of life caused by Palestinian missiles from Gaza, but because it wants Gazan gas to fuel the Israeli economy.

The huge victory for human life becomes a political victory for Hamas and another embarrassment for the regime of Mahmood Abbas. Abbas met with great fanfare with Imperial Leader Bush at Annapolis and came away with pledges of money and promises of a settlement in 2008, but not one immediate improvement on the ground. Not a settlement was torn down nor a Jewish-only road opened up to Palestinians. Not a truckload of Gaza products left for sale. Impasse. Yet Hamas was able to break the siege without any loss of life.

Never forget that the Mubarak regime in Egypt collaborated in making Gaza a prison. After Sharon had his soldiers redeployed from Gaza, Egypt, Israel and the European Union made an agreement to keep the border shut giving Israel a total veto on who could enter or leave. Mubarak obeyed this wretched deal faithfully. Al-Jazeera reports that scores of protesters had been arrested in Cairo recently for protesting the siege. In the face of the total stoppage of deliveries last week all Mubarak did was make phone calls to Olmert and Barak and was able to just get a pitiful few truck loads worth of oil for the Gaza power plant.

Though the pressure on Gazans has eased for the moment the protest campaign against Israel,s brutal siege can,t stop for a minute. After the wall was breached Olmert once again said that Gazan civilians would not be allowed to live “normal lives” as long as there are any missle attacks on Sderot. The opening of the Gaza Egyptian border may not be permanent. Israel and the US may bully Mubarak into taking action. Anyway the the gateway to Sinai is a gateway only to a desert. Egyptian Rafah is a tiny town and there is not much else beyond it.

A number of groups have proclaimed January 26 a day of International Action Against the Siege of Gaza. Demonstrations are expected in New York, Cleveland, Boston and Philadelphia and most interestingly in Israel.
The Israeli Coalition Against the Siege intends to send a protest convoy to the Gaza border, in co-ordination with the Palestinian Coalition which is preparing parallel actions inside Gaza and in Ramallah. They are demanding a complete end to the blockade of Gaza.

The humanitarian convoy of supplies headed by peace and human rights organisations will go from Nazareth, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Beer Sheva to the Gaza Strip border, decked with signs “Lift the Blockade!” Speakers will be Shulamit Aloni, Uri Avnery, Ronit Matalon, Hassan Jabareen, Nurit Peled-Elhanan and Prof. Jeff Halper. There will be a phone link between the Israeli demo and hundreds of Gazans on the Gaza side in Gaza City at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, demonstrating as part of the “Palestinian-International Campaign to End the Siege,” one of whose spokesmen is psychiatrist and human rights activist, Dr. Eyad Sarraj.

While the politicians talked and talked peaceful direct action has broken the logjam and eased the inhuman misery. May it spread all over.

STANLEY HELLER is host of “The Struggle TV and a podcaster at www.TheStruggle.org

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
Kenneth Surin
The Neoliberal Stranglehold on the American Public University
Lawrence Davidson
Is There a Future for the Democratic Party?
Douglas Valentine
Who Killed MLK Jr?
Robert Fisk
The Foreign Correspondent in the Age of Twitter and Trump
Dale Bryan
“Where Do We Go from Here?”
David Swanson
The Deep State Wants to Deep Six Us
Dan Bacher
Obama Administration Orders Speedy Completion of Delta Tunnels Plan
Mark Weisbrot
Obama Should Make Sure that Haitian Victims of UN-Caused Cholera are Compensated
Winslow Myers
The Light of the World
Bruce Mastron
My Latest Reason to Boycott the NFL: Guns
Weekend Edition
January 13, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Gregory Elich
Did the Russians Really Hack the DNC?
Jeffrey St. Clair
The President Who Wasn’t There: Barack Obama’s Legacy of Impotence
Anthony DiMaggio
Ethics Fiasco: Trump, Divestment and the Perversion of Executive Politics
Joshua Frank
Farewell Obummer, Hello Golden Showers
Paul Street
Hit the Road, Barack: Some Farewell Reflections
Vijay Prashad
After Aleppo: the State of Syria
John Wight
Russia Must be Destroyed: John McCain and the Case of the Dodgy Dossier
Rob Urie
Meet the Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
The Russian Dossier Reminds Me of the Row Over Saddam’s WMDs
Eric Sommer
U.S.-China War: a Danger Hidden from the American People
Andrew Levine
Are Democrats Still the Lesser Evil?
Linda Pentz Gunter
What’s Really Behind the Indian Point Nuclear Deal?
Robert Fantina
Trucks, ‘Terror’ and Israel
Richard Moser
Universal Values are Revolutionary Values
Russell Mokhiber
Build the Bagdikian Wall: “Sponsored News” at the Washington Post
Yoav Litvin
Establishment Narcissism – The Democrats’ Game of Thrones
David Rosen
Return of the Repressed: Trump & the Revival of the Culture Wars
Robert Koehler
War Consciousness and the F-35
Rev. William Alberts
The New Smell of McCarthyism Demands Faith Leaders Speak Truth to Power
John Laforge
Federal Regulator Halts Move to Toughen Radiation Exposure Limits
Norman Pollack
Farewell Address: Nazification of Hope
David Swanson
Imagine the Confirmation Hearing for Secretary of Peace
CJ Hopkins
Why Ridiculous Official Propaganda Still Works
Ron Jacobs
Striking in Reagan Time
Missy Comley Beattie
The Streep
Graham Peebles
Climate Change: The Potential Impacts of Collective Inaction
Uri Avnery
Confessions of a Megalomaniac
Kenneth Worles
Black Without a Home: King’s Dream Still Deferred
Geoff Dutton
The Russian Patsy
Jill Richardson
The Coming War on Regulations
Jeremy Brecher
Resisting the Trump Agenda is Social Self-Defense
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail