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

Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
William Hughes
From Sam Spade to the Red Scare: Dashiell Hammett’s War Against Rightwing Creeps
Raouf Halaby
Dear Barack Obama, Please Keep it at 3 for 3
Charles R. Larson
Review: Paulina Chiziane’s “The First Wife: a Tale of Polygamy”
August 25, 2016
Mike Whitney
The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives Up on Empire
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
The Louisiana Catastrophe Proves the Need for Universal, Single-Payer Disaster Insurance
John W. Whitehead
Another Brick in the Wall: Children of the American Police State
Lewis Evans
Genocide in Plain Sight: Shooting Bushmen From Helicopters in Botswana
Daniel Kovalik
Colombia: Peace in the Shadow of the Death Squads
Sam Husseini
How the Washington Post Sells the Politics of Fear
Ramzy Baroud
Punishing the Messenger: Israel’s War on NGOs Takes a Worrying Turn
Norman Pollack
Troglodyte Vs. Goebbelean Fascism: The 2016 Presidential Race
Simon Wood
Where are the Child Victims of the West?
Roseangela Hartford
The Hidden Homeless Population
Mark Weisbrot
Obama’s Campaign for TPP Could Drag Down the Democrats
Rick Sterling
Clintonites Prepare for War on Syria
Yves Engler
The Anti-Semitism Smear Against Canadian Greens
August 24, 2016
John Pilger
Provoking Nuclear War by Media
Jonathan Cook
The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine
Eric Draitser
Ajamu Baraka, “Uncle Tom,” and the Pathology of White Liberal Racism
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt and the New Financial Imperialism
Robert Fisk
The Sultan’s Hit List Grows, as Turkey Prepares to Enter Syria
Abubakar N. Kasim
What Did the Olympics Really Do for Humanity?
Renee Parsons
Obamacare Supporters Oppose ColoradoCare
Alycee Lane
The Trump Campaign: a White Revolt Against ‘Neoliberal Multiculturalism’
Edward Hunt
Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific
George Wuerthner
The Big Fish Kill on the Yellowstone
Jesse Jackson
Democrats Shouldn’t Get a Blank Check From Black Voters
Kent Paterson
Saving Southern New Mexico from the Next Big Flood
Arnold August
RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System
August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail