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Why the Gaza Disaster Is Not 3 Weeks Old and Has Not Stopped Along With the Bombs

World  (tags: abuse, lies, media, propaganda, usa, war, economy, israel, middle-east, palestine, Refugees&Relief, terrorism, violence, world, 'HUMANRIGHTS!', conflict, crime, death )

- 3403 days ago -
Following the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza that started late December 2008, the eyes of the world have been opened to the reality of the daily lives of the people of Gaza; or the reality that the media has agreed to disclose. People's knowledge on

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Madalena Lobaotello (448)
Saturday January 24, 2009, 11:35 am
Following the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza that started late December 2008, the eyes of the world have been opened to the reality of the daily lives of the people of Gaza; or the reality that the media has agreed to disclose.

People’s knowledge on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict varies and fluctuates regarding the political tendencies of the individual, the geographical location of where they and the type of media exposure they receive.

Though the media throughout the world eventually picked up the story of the ongoing slaughter of Gaza and the cost to Palestinian women, children and infrastructure, there was important background and context information that was hardly mentioned during the climax of a war.

“Why rocket are still fired on Israel?” was a recurring question we received at Palestine Monitor.

Although nothing can ever justify aggression, the use of violence and the loss of civilian life, there are facts that have to be emphasized on why combatants were still targeting Israel after the so-called Israeli disengagement from the Strip in 2005.

Yesterday, in a conference on media bias by IPCRI, we heard a journalist from the Jerusalem Post assuming that the main cause that lead to bias in the Israeli public opinion, and in the newspapers that were feeding that same opinion, was that Israelis strongly believe in the ‘disengagement’ of 2005 and assume that Israel has not exerted any control on the Strip since then. For the majority of them, he said, “and I myself was among those, this was a unilateral war, resulting from 8 years of unilateral aggression by Hamas on Israel.”

But Gaza’s misery did not start 3 weeks ago; and it has certainly not ended following the ceasefire.

The context which is often neglected in the Israeli press is that of the deadly and worsening siege policy on the Gaza Strip started 18 months ago.

Illustrative of the depth of this siege are the recent surveys concerning the rapid increase in ‘stunted growth’ in Gaza’s Children over the last years.

A phenomena like stunting does not occur overnight, nor can it be quickly reversed, and is a sad figure which will hopefully awaken Israel and the world to the lies that they left Gaza ’all alone’ after 2005.

Gaza, January 2009 Picture: AP Since the June 2007 take over of Gaza by Hamas, Gazans have been living in a constant state of siege and blockade, resulting in severe restrictions and shortages of the most basic supplies such as food, flour, fuel, cooking gas, electricity, water supply, medicines and medical equipment. This siege has been declared as a form of collective punishment and condemned by a vast array of governments and Human Rights organizations alike.

On the 17th of December 2008 - the eve of the ‘Cast lead’ operation’- UNRWA, the United Nation Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees - 70% of the Gaza residents are registered refugees dependent on for food supplies - suspended its food aid to Gaza and 750,000 Palestinians due to border closure. UNRWA storage warehouses in Gaza were completely empty and no trucks have been allowed to cross into Gaza to fill them up.

Prior to the Israeli ‘Cast Lead’ operation, the situation in Gaza was already classified by the main legitimate international humanitarian organisations as a “humanitarian crisis”.

Human rights and development organisations such as Amnesty International, Care International, Medecins du Monde, Oxfam and Save the Children declared in March 2008 that the situation in Gaza represented “the worst humanitarian crisis in the Strip since Israel occupied it in the 1967 war” and that this was “a man-made disaster resulting from the isolation and blockade.”

A disaster that has been severely exacerbated by the Israeli assault which left over 1,300 dead, more injured people than hospitals can manage and the destruction of most of the civilian facilities and infrastructure in the Strip.

Stunted growth as a long term gift for Gaza children
The brutal siege has crippled Gaza, and most importantly the children. In 2007, Surveys pointed that 10% of Palestinian children suffer permanent effects from malnutrition. One obvious effect of malnutrition among children is stunted growth [1], which has increased about 3% percent in the last two years. Report found that 13.2 % of the children of Gaza suffer stunted growth, compared to 7.9% percent in the West Bank.

Gaza, January 2009 Picture: AP Both numbers are alarming, but it also shows that this gap is being increased rapidly, between the two entities that constitute Palestine: Gaza and the West Bank. They are indeed living two different realities and suffering from different treatment from Israel. The Gaza Strip is facing policies of heavy siege while the West Bank is facing a permanent occupation. As both are heavily restricted in movement back and forth, the health differences between the Palestinians from Gaza and their counterparts in the West Bank is indeed growing at the same rate that there ability to interact are disappearing.

Most recently, a Worldvision report released in December 2008, prior to the attacks, updated the terrible impact of Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip on the Palestinian children. “Children are malnourished and lacking vital protein and vitamins which is leading to stunted growth in around 27% of children in the Gaza.” Mild stunting affects almost 13% of children, moderate stunting 8.46%, and severe stunting 4.83%.

From 2007 to 2008, numbers related to stunted growth in Gaza in fact jumped from 13% to 27%, as a concrete indicator of the consequence of the siege policy.

The survey has revealed disturbing findings linked to the physical and psychosocial well being of children – underscoring the need for long-term, sustainable development.

According to Eyad Saraj, a psychiatrist who works closely with UNRWA, "Stunted growth is a major problem. We see children who are 12 years old yet have the bodies of 8 year olds. They suffer from cognitive problems due to nutritional deficiency".

Rural communities, such in Beit Lahya in the Northern Gaza Strip, rely on farming, fishing and the service sector for its livelihood – all of which have been severely impacted by Israeli military operations, movement restrictions in the sea and border closures leading to a devastated local economy.

While nearly every household in Beit Lahya has access to water, the quality is so poor that 95% of households have to buy their drinking water. Many children are affected by parasites and diarrhoea, which is adequately treated in only 24% of cases, as the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics points out, as a result of the Israeli blockade, nearly 86% households reduced their spending for food, while over 66 % of households decreased their expenditures for health care.

Challenges ahead – Why the massacre has not ended with the silence of the bombs
When looking on the UN development maps, stunted growth in the region should affect less than 2% of the children, the same rate as the European welfare states or the wealthy kingdoms of the Arab Peninsula. This is the reality in Israel, but the maps fail to point out the differences between them and their Palestinian neighbours.

Stunted growth rate increased incredibly fast during the past 5 years in Gaza and the West Bank. Even with interventions, the rates don’t go down fast. A real challenge for a country where 17 percent of the Palestinian population is made up of children under the age of 5, and 46% are under 15.

Children in Gaza may not be dying from air strike and gunfire since Sunday but they may still starve to death or succumb to easily treatable ailments.

There is more to a war than bombs and tanks; there are also the slow deaths of innocents as a result of Israel’s policy of collective punishment and ‘ghetto-ization’ which promises to retard Palestinian physical and economic development for years to come.

[1] Stunted growth can be defined as a reduced growth rate in human development, a primary manifestation of malnutrition in early childhood. Growth stunting is defined by comparing measurements of children’s heights to the NCHS (US National Center for Health Statistics) growth reference population. Children who fall below the fifth percentile of the reference population in height for age are defined as stunted.

Simon Wood (207)
Sunday January 25, 2009, 6:04 am
When Israel stops its military terrorism, war crimes and other oppression against the people of Palestine, and when Israel agrees to the 2-state solution, including the right for the millions of Palestinian refugees to return, then there will be a lasting peace.

When the USA stops supporting Israel (e.g. ends the annual $3 billion military aid to Israel), then Israel will be forced to end its aggressive, expansionist and genocidal policies.

Beatrice B (112)
Sunday January 25, 2009, 2:34 pm

At this point, no one debates that Yasser Arafat strategically chose the path of terror after turning down Barak's offer of a Palestinian state on 97 percent of the land Arafat told everyone he wanted. There's been much theorizing as to why. It's time to drop all the Mideast pretenses, and just tell it like it is.

Current thinking has it that Yasser launched Intifada II to squeeze more concessions out of Israel. But this makes no sense. Besides the right-of-return request for millions of so-called refugees (aka Arafat's recipe for the destruction of Israel through population genocide) which he knows will never be granted, what further concessions could Arafat possibly have wished for that couldn't have been settled through negotiation with a very willing Prime Minister Barak?

If Arafat wants peace or a state, he would have both by now. But he doesn't want either, and it's important that we understand why.

The Palestinian Authority itself has little power. If it weren't for the PLO's coalition – full support from every Arab state, and from the EU because of that Arab support – America would pay little attention to Arafat. Arab countries thus hold Arafat's legitimacy and power in their hands.

Our government's contempt for Arafat is not even disguised anymore. Cheney wishes aloud for Arafat's demise. Bush won't invite Arafat to the White House, and basically outright backs Sharon's confining him to his headquarters in Ramallah. So if Arafat didn't have Arab backing, a Palestinian state would even be against American interests – the last thing we need, especially now, is to create a state led by a man who openly supports terrorism, preaches murder on his state-controlled media, and includes in his government members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Arab leaders support Arafat passionately because the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is labeled the "Mideast conflict" – as if it were the only thing happening in the entire region. It keeps the spotlight off their own abusive leaderships, and it supplies enough propaganda to foment hatred into their citizens so the nation's anger is turned toward Israel and away from their leader's own corruption.

Arab countries can't stand foreign journalists and Western governments doodling in their "private affairs." The constant soap opera of Arafat vs. Israel conveniently fills the international news pages to capacity, and keeps Western governments busy and distracted.

A Palestinian state, which is supposed to "end the conflict," would destroy all of this. If the biggest show in town were to close, the Arab leaders would have nothing to distract the world from smelling their dirty laundry.

Think Arab rulers actually give a lick about the Palestinian people? 100,000 Palestinians were expelled from Kuwait. Arab nations have almost never complained about rampant PLO corruption or its many human rights abuses. Oil-rich Arab states have done nothing to dismantle the despicable, inhumane refugee camps that Arafat insists on maintaining. (Millions of refugees were absorbed by Western countries after World War II. It is mind boggling that in 50 years, Arab countries couldn't take in 600,000 refugees – who fled because the attacking Arabs warned them to.)

To Arab leaders, the Palestinians are mere pawns in a dirty game to keep a distracting conflict burning for as long as possible. They would never allow Arafat to accept a peace plan, even if he wanted to. A Palestinian state would end all the drama. If this happens, the West might see that there's a bit more to the Middle East than Israel. And the Arabs simply cannot afford that.

Madalena Lobaotello (448)
Sunday January 25, 2009, 3:52 pm
Beatrice B.
It seems that you dont know that Arafat died on November 11, 2004 at the age of 75.
Mohammed Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini

Past Member (0)
Sunday January 25, 2009, 5:18 pm
Noted - THANK YOU!! This is the kind of information people need - facts, not just political perspective and emotion.

Liz D (70)
Tuesday January 27, 2009, 7:52 am
You know a lot about the Mid east conflict....if you don't know that Arafat died 5 yrs ago !!!!

Make sure you always have your facts right

Blue Bunting (855)
Sunday February 15, 2009, 5:19 pm
Israel deliberately blocked aid: UNOfficial says UN stocks sabotaged; Olmert wants pullout 'ASAP'

How Social Media War Was Waged in Gaza-Israel Conflict

"If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been Anti - Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault ? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?" -- David Ben Gurion
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