FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Better Blockade?

by NADIA HIJAB

After locking itself up for hours on end, Israel’s security cabinet finally emerged to announce an easing of its blockade on Gaza, a move immediately welcomed by the United States. Israel and the U.S. hope to defuse world outrage over the collective punishment of the 1.5 million Palestinians who live there and to prevent future flotillas from trying to break the siege.

Will they succeed? It is tempting to think that the flagrant illegality of attacking unarmed humanitarians on the open seas is bound to lead to an end to the blockade. However, Palestinian analyst Mouin Rabbani has warned against over-optimism. He notes that after the horror of Israel’s 2008-9 attacks on Gaza the blockade was not only kept in place; it was tightened.

Yet America and Israel are fighting a losing battle in their efforts to devise a kinder, gentler blockade for the simple reason that there is no such thing. Activists, the United Nations, and the human rights community are saying more loudly than ever that the blockade is against the law — international law.

Activists appear to have the upper hand at the moment, as more ships head to Gaza to try to break Israel’s naval blockade. And they are being organized not only by groups in Iran, Lebanon and Turkey; European Jews for a Just Peace are also organizing a flotilla.

EJJP, an umbrella group of Jewish groups from 10 European countries, plans to deliver humanitarian aid but its purpose is primarily political. The activists want to focus attention on the “immoral” blockade. And, German organizer Edith Lutz told The Huffington Post, “We are frightened that Israeli policies will help anti-Semitism. We also want to show that these actions are not Jewish.

Meanwhile, UN organizations have lined up in the past few weeks to counter Israeli claims that there is no “humanitarian crisis.” The World Health Organization has warned that the health system is on the verge of collapse. The UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territory has said that Gaza’s agricultural sector is suffocating, noting that the “absurdity” of a situation in which Gaza’s coastal population is forced to import fish through tunnels. And the UN Secretary General repeatedly says that the blockade must be completely lifted.

The most damning report in recent weeks has perhaps been that of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The ICRC rarely speaks out, but it has clearly stated that the closure constitutes collective punishment in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law. And, should anyone need affirmation that there is no such thing as a better blockade, the ICRC says the hardship facing Gaza’s Palestinians cannot be addressed by providing more humanitarian aid: “The only sustainable solution is to lift the closure.”

The way Israel plans to ease the blockade gets nowhere near lifting the closure. For example, all food will be allowed in — but not materials that will enable Palestinians to grow their own food. And Israel’s “security envelope” will remain in place, including the naval blockade.

Why is Israel so eager to maintain its siege when even Israeli strategists are saying that its purpose — to dislodge or weaken Hamas and its resistance — has not and cannot be achieved?

There are persistent reports that a major Israeli reason could be access to and control of Gaza’s gas fields, valued at some $4 billion. Such reports might sound hard to believe — until one considers that Israel has been tapping the West Bank’s water for decades and that the illegal Wall it is building in the West Bank conveniently encircles the Palestinians’ strategic aquifers. Writing about the Gaza gas deals in the Guardian in 2007, Arthur Neslen notes that Hamas has persistently called for the renegotiation of the contract negotiated with BG Group.

Meanwhile, human rights activists are turning to the courts — a move that may at last grab Israel’s attention. The Free Gaza Movement, organizers of the flotilla Israel attacked on May 31, is currently working with attorneys in a number of countries to pursue legal action on behalf of those killed or badly injured.

Here’s a question: Since the blockade is illegal under international law, could the Palestinians of Gaza organize some kind of class action suit against Israel and seek compensation for the agonies they have suffered since 2006? For all those dead due to lack of access to care? The children stunted due to malnourishment? The school years lost, the crops and land and infrastructure destroyed. The list is long, but it is long past time to total up and claim the costs of Israel’s occupation.

 

WORDS THAT STICK

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail