Gaza Corrodes Israel’s Soul

by

As Israel continues its unlawful siege of the Gaza Strip, the health situation for the Palestinians continues to be critical. In a comprehensive report, B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, described the health situation in Gaza on January 1st, 2014.

According to B’Tselem, the siege that Israel has imposed on Gaza since Hamas took control of Gaza’s security apparatus in June 2007 has greatly damaged Gaza’s health system, which already had considerable shortcomings. Now, many services and life-saving treatments are not available to Palestinians inside Gaza, and treatment of cancer and heart patients is postponed, as medical supplies and equipment are delayed.

Even some basic necessities, such as clean drinking water and removal of solid waste is not widely available. It is estimated that 30 percent of Gaza Strip residents do not receive water on a regular basis. In addition, many diagnostic and emergency medical services cannot operate because of lack of generators. Statistics from the World Health Organization showed that 19 percent of necessary medicines were lacking, as well as replacement parts for critical equipment and several disposable but necessary items such as bandages, syringes and plaster for casts.

In the meantime, Israel severely limits the amounts of permits for hundreds of patients to enter Israel for advanced treatment unavailable in Gaza. Physicians for Human Rights Israel questioned the legality of the procedure whereby every exit permit from Gaza for medical treatment requires a check by the Israel Security Agency (ISA). According to that organization, in several cases the ISA abused this procedure to pressure patients to collaborate providing intelligence information in exchange for a permit.

Despite its so-called “disengagement” from the Gaza Strip in September of 2005, Israel continues to hold effective control of many aspects of Gazans’ lives, including check points and the entrance of basic supplies. This situation imposes on Israel responsibility for the safety and welfare of Gaza’s residents, according to precepts established in The Hague and Geneva Conventions. Because of its control of residents’ lives in Gaza and the curtailment of its movements, Israel seriously breaches Palestinians’ right to optimal medical care inside the Strip and access to medical care outside the area.

In 2009, writing for The Guardian, Avi Shlaim, Oxford professor of international relations, stated, “The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the June 1967 war had very little to do with security and everything to do with territorial expansionism. The aim was to establish Greater Israel through permanent political, economic and military control over the Palestinian territories. And the result has been one of the most prolonged and brutal military occupation of modern times.”

Shlaim also stated, “Gaza, however, is not simply a case of economic under-development but a uniquely cruel case of deliberate de-development….Gaza is a classical case of colonial exploitation in the post-colonial era.” For Shlaim, settlements in Palestinian land have become an insurmountable obstacle to peace. He calls them “the instrument of exploitation and the symbol of the hated occupation.”

The Israeli government often contends that they gave freedom to the Gazans and rather than being thankful they continued throwing rockets into Israel. Shlaim, however, provides a different analysis. “Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement, conducted an effective campaign to drive the Israelis out of Gaza. The withdrawal was a humiliation for the Israeli Defense Forces. To the world, Sharon presented the withdrawal from Gaza as a contribution to peace based on a two-state solution. But in the year after, 12,000 Israelis settled on the West Bank, further reducing the scope for an independent Palestinian state. Land-grabbing and peace-making are simply incompatible. Israel had a choice and it chose land over peace,” wrote Shlaim.

In the meantime, as peace conversations ignore the needs of Gazans, the people in the Strip are deprived of basic health and human rights leading 1.5 million people to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. As Ari Shavit says in The Promised Land, “So the question now is not land for peace. The question is land for our decency. Land for our humanity. Land for our very soul.” The situation in Gaza is nothing but the fight of the oppressors against the oppressed, a conflict that corrodes Israel’s own soul.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Vacy Vlanza
Without BDS, Palestine is Alone
Laura Finley
Adjunct Professors and Worker’s Rights
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode Three, Where We Thrill Everyone by Playing Like “Utter Bloody Garbage”
Weekend Edition
July 24-26, 2015
Mike Whitney
Picked Out a Coffin Yet? Take Ibuprofen and Die
Henry Giroux
America’s New Brutalism: the Death of Sandra Bland
Rob Urie
Capitalism, Engineered Dependencies and the Eurozone
Michael Lanigan
Lynn’s Story: an Irish Woman in Search of an Abortion
Paul Street
Deleting Crimes at the New York Times: Airbrushing History at the Paper of Record
ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH
Making Sense of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Geopolitical Implications
Andrew Levine
After the Iran Deal: Israel is Down But Far From Out
Uri Avnery
Sheldon’s Stooges: Netanyahu and the King of Vegas
David Swanson
George Clooney Paid by War Profiteers
ANDRE VLTCHEK
They Say Paraguay is in Africa: Mosaic of Horror
Horace G. Campbell
Obama in Kenya: Will He Cater to the Barons or the People?
Michael Welton
Surviving Together: Canadian Public Tradition Under Threat
Rev. William Alberts
American Imperialism’s Military Chaplains
Yorgos Mitralias
Black Days: August 4th,1914 Germany and July 13th, 2015 Greece
Jeffrey R. Wilson
“It Started Like a Guilty Thing”: the Beginning of Hamlet and the Beginning of Modern Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Star Whores: John McCain, the Apache and the Battle to Save Mt. Graham
Pepe Escobar
The Eurasian Big Bang: How China and Russia Are Running Rings Around Washington
Charles Larson
The USA as a Failed State: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Robert Fantina
Israel and “Self-Defense”
John W. Whitehead
The American Nightmare: the Tyranny of the Criminal Justice System
Leonidas Vatikiotis
Rupture With the EU: a Return to the Cave Age or a New Golden Age for Greece?
Murray Dobbin
Harper is Finally Right: the Canadian Election is About Security Versus Risk
Brian Cloughley
Meet General Joseph Dunford: a Real Threat to World Peace
Manuel García, Jr.
The Trump Surge and the American Psyche
Pete Dolack
We May Have Already Committed Ourselves to 6-Meter Sea-Level Rise
Eric Draitser
US Targets Venezuela Using Border Dispute as Pretext
Michael Barker
The Challenge to Labour and Tory Extremism
Robert Hunziker
America’s Purple Politics
Ishmael Bishop
Decentering Whiteness in the Wake of a North Carolina Tragedy
Chad Nelson
Something About Carly: Fiorina and the Professional Political Class