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

December 08, 2016
John W. Whitehead
Power to the People: John Lennon’s Legacy Lives On
Mike Whitney
Rolling Back the Empire: Washington’s Proxy-Army Faces Decisive Defeat in Aleppo
Ellen Brown
“We’ll Look at Everything:” More Thoughts on Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan
John Stauber
The Rise and Fall of Obamacare: Will the Inside Story Ever be Told?
Ted Rall
Ameri-Splaining
Michael J. Sainato
Mainstream Media Continues Absolving Itself From Clinton, Trump Election Failures
Ralph Nader – Mark Green
Divest or Face Impeachment: an Open Letter to Donald Trump
Gareth Porter
US Airstrikes on Syrian Troops: Report Data Undermine Claim of “Mistake”
Martha Burke
What Trumponomics Means for Women
Ramzy Baroud
Fatah, Hold Your Applause: Palestinian Body Politic Rotten to the Core
Steve Horn
Jeff Sessions, Trump’s Attorney General Pick, Introduced First Bill Exempting Fracking from Drinking Water Rules
Joe Ware
The Big Shift: Why Banks Need to Stop Investing Our Money Into Fossil Fuels
Juliana Barnet
On the Ground at Standing Rock
Franklin Lamb
Aleppo Update: An Inspiring Return to the Bombed Out National Museum
Steve Kelly
Hidden Harmony: on the Perfection of Forests
December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba After Fidel
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewal of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail