The Acts of the Democracies

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2007

Palestine Under Siege

The United Nations confirms that between 2002 and the end of 2005, 36 Palestinian babies have died because their mothers were detained during their labour at Israeli checkpoints located on Palstinian land. One woman, Jamilla Alahad Naim, has to pass through two Israeli checkpoints between her home and the hospital and is considering having her baby at home.

After the Palestinians elected a new government, Israel stopped giving the new government money it was collecting in taxes, Europe stopped sending aid money and the USA threatened countries who provided aid with economic sanctions. This has led to poverty and hardship in the Palestinian territories.

Israel has been building a 8m high wall around Jerusalem that is designed to control Palestinian entry from the West Bank. The wall cuts through historic highways from Jerusalem (part of which is considered as occupied under international law) to Amman (Jordan) and from Jenin to Hebron. For West Bank Palestinians, the wall is broken only at four checkpoints. These can only be reached after many detours which require travellers to leave their vehicles and cross on foot. Palestinian vehicles are banned from Jerusalem.

The 180km wall will cost over $ 1,000,000 per kilometre. Only 5km of wall runs along the recognised border between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Most of it is being built on Palestinian territory. Around Jerusalem, the majority of the wall does not separate Israelis and Palestinians (as required by Israel stating that the wall is for security) but cuts off Palestinians from their schools, fields, olive groves, hospitals and cemeteries.

The West Bank city of Qalqiliya (population 40,000) is now surrounded by the wall. Residents can only enter and exit through a single military checkpoint which is open daily between 7am and 7pm.

When the wall is completed, there will be over 400,000 Palestinians completely or partially surrounded by it.

East Jerusalem was originally an Arab city. Israel has annexed the entire city and has passed apartheid laws allowing the building of Jewish only "settlements" on the land. Since 1967, 250,000 Jewish settlers have been housed in this area.

In contrast to the difficulty encountered by West Bank Palestinians entering Jerusalem, Israel has built new roads to enable Jewish settlers to reach the city as quickly as possible. A tramline is also planned. The roads form a network of four lane highways, lit up at night, along which the trees have been cut down, Palestinian houses demolished, and protective walls erected. These highways linking the settlements and Jerusalem are prohibited to Palestinian vehicles. They have to use poor quality secondary roads that are badly maintained and controlled by checkpoints. Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat describes the dual road system as the "apartheid that dare not speak its name".

In Jerusalem all Jews but only 2.3% of Palestinians are citizens. West Bank Palestinians have green identity cards which give them no no rights in the city, not even the right to enter without permission. Permanent residents with blue identity cards enjoy voting and welfare benefits, but those rights are not transmitted automatically to their spouses or children.

The European Union published a report in 2005 (that was censored) that highlighted more discrimination: "Between 1996-1999 Israel implemented a centre of life policy, meaning that those with blue ID found living or working outside East Jerusalem, for example in Ramallah, would lose their ID. A wave of blue ID cardholders quickly moved back to East Jerusalem".

These policies have succeeded in making life difficult for the city's Arab population in a number of ways:

Meron Benvenisti, a leading expert on Jerusalem, described the situation as follows:

"The wall? A monument to despair! Look at Bethlehem: on one side, the Church of the Nativity, on the other, the bunker around Rachel's Tomb. It's the arrogance of an occupier who feels free to define and redefine communities as he sees fit. As if the fence separated 'good' Arabs, accepted in Jerusalem, from 'bad' Arabs excluded from it. Those who dreamed-up this horror follow the same logic of 19th century colonialism as did the French when they hung on to Indochina and North Africa. It won't work this time either. The Jerusalem wall will go the same way as the Berlin wall."

This "ethnic management" of Jerusalem is under-reported in the Western media.

Facts about the wall (2006):

Total length of planned wall700km
Amount of the West Bank left on the Israeli side of the wall50%
Maximum distance into the West Bank taken by the route of the wall16km
Width of buffer zone around the wall70m to 100m

Facts about the occupation (2006):

Percentage of Arabs living in Palestine in 1918 when the UK issued the Balfour Declaration90%
Percentage of historical Palestine allocated to the Jewish state by the United Nations in 194757%
Percentage of historical Palestine that became Israel in 194878%
Number of Palestinian villages destroyed in the 78% of historical Palestine that now forms Israel531
Percentage of historical Palestine currently recognised as occupied by Israel22%
Percentage of occupied territories on the Israeli side of the wall or taken by illegal settlements50%
Percentage of Palestine's natural water used by Israel every year82%
Maximum depth of Palestinian wells allowed by Israel140m
Maximum depth of Israeli wells800m
Amount of aid received by Israel from the USA$ 5,000 million
Number of Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces and settlers (Sep 2000 to Dec 2005)652
Percentage of Palestine's population that is under 18 years old52%
Percentage of Palestinian children suffering from chronic or acute malnutrition22.5%
Number of journalists killed / injured by Israeli forces between 2000 and 200512 / 300
Number of Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons7,500
Number of Palestinians homes demolished under Israeli occupation12,000
Number of Palestinians homes demolished (2000 to 2006)5,000
Percentage of Palestinian attacks in the occupied territories as opposed to Israel (2000 to 2003)96%

In June 2006, Israel banned all fishing from Gaza. According to the United Nations 35,000 people directly rely on the fishing industry for subsistence. A blockade of Gaza is maintained by Israeli naval vessels. The Western media (which loudly reported the "withdrawal" of Israel from Gaza) fails to report this illegal blockade of Gaza's coast.

Between 2000 and 2006 the monthly catch of fish by Palestinians has dropped from 823 to 50 tonnes. The World Bank cites Israel's blockade as responsible for the economic and humanitarian crisis facing Gaza.

These actions by Israel violate article 52 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), which Israeli has signed. The article states: "No contract, agreement or regulation shall impair the right of any worker, whether voluntary or not. All measures aiming at creating unemployment or at restricting the opportunities offered to workers in an occupied territory, in order to induce them to work for the Occupying Power, are prohibited."

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza has been monitoring the blockade: "Fishermen have been subjected to intensive monitoring by the Israeli occupation forces, which use helicopters gunships and gunboats". During 2006 four fishermen were killed after being attacked by Israeli forces and many have been arrested.

Israel begins excavations close to the Al Aqsa Mosque. The work violates the Israel-Jordan peace treaty which awarded custody of the Islamic and Christian holy places in eastern Jerusalem to Jordan. The site is protected by UNESCO World Heritage. Israel ignores protests from groups as diverse as the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference, the Nonaligned Movement and Churches for Middle East Peace.

In Umm Naser in northern Gaza a river of raw sewage and debris overflowed from a collapsed earth embankment into a refugee camp driving 3,000 Palestinians from their homes. Five people died by drowning, 25 were injured and many houses were destroyed. In the USA, the media blamed the Palestinians for building shoddy infrustructure.

There are two causes of this ecological disaster. Firstly it is the economic blockade imposed by Israel (and enforced internationally by the USA) on the Palestinian territories. Secondly, massive bombing by Israel on Gaza during 2006, demolished roads, bridges, sewage treatment facilities, water purification and electrical power plants.

In May, less than a month before the 40th anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel bombs Gaza killing dozens of people in an attempt to assassinate members of the Palestinian government. The Western media fail to mention the anniversary of the occupation and concentrate on the fewer numbers of Israelis attacked by rockets.

Israel arrests more of the elected officials of Palestine - the number reaches one third. Western governments, which attempt to impose "democracy" on the Arabs, says nothing.

Between September 2000 and July 2007, 5,776 people have been killed in the conflict, most of them Palestinians.

The charity Save The Children reports that serious malnutrician is becoming a problem in Gaza as Israel continues the siege and blockade. Apart from the UK newspaper, The Independent, this story is unreported in the Western media. Israel begins cutting power to Gaza. This causes problems in industry and begins to close hospitals. 85% of people in Gaza have no work and banks have run out of money. The siege stops movement of people and goods between Palestine and Israel as well as limit movement within the West Bank. There are 546 checkpoints. 40% of the West Bank is inaccessible to Palestinians.

Human rights groups condemn the Israeli siege as a violation of the Geneva Conventions against collective punishment. The siege continues to be supported and enforced by the USA (which controls financial institutions in the region), the UK and Europe.

Nofer Ishai-Karen, an ex-soldier in the Israeli army, publishes a report after interviewing a number of soldiers involved in the occupation of the Palestinian territories. Two platoons were studied, ESHBAL and ESHKHAR. The interviews show what life under occupation is like for the Palestinians. The soldiers spoke freely about events which occurred nearly 20 years previously admitting to murder, breaking bones of Palestinian children, actions of humiliation, destruction of property, robbery and theft.

Since 1967 Israel has imprisoned more than 650,000 Palestinians, equivalent to nearly 20 per cent of the population. In 2007, there are 10,000 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

The USA, Israel and three small islands in the Pacific Ocean voted against a resolution by the United Nations calling for self determination for the Palestinian people.

© 2014, KryssTal


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