Peter Beinart on the disturbing blockade of the Gaza strip:
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations greeted news of the flotilla disaster by repeating a common “pro-Israel” talking point: that Israel only blockades Gaza to prevent Hamas from building rockets that might kill Israeli citizens. If only that were true. In reality, the embargo has a broader and more sinister purpose: to impoverish the people of Gaza, and thus turn them against Hamas. As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has reported, the Israeli officials in charge of the embargo adhere to what they call a policy of “no prosperity, no development, no humanitarian crisis.” In other words, the embargo must be tight enough to keep the people of Gaza miserable, but not so tight that they starve.
This explains why Israel prevents Gazans from importing, among other things, cilantro, sage, jam, chocolate, French fries, dried fruit, fabrics, notebooks, empty flowerpots and toys, none of which are particularly useful in building Kassam rockets. It’s why Israel bans virtually all exports from Gaza, a policy that has helped to destroy the Strip’s agriculture, contributed to the closing of some 95 percent of its factories, and left more 80 percent of its population dependent on food aid. It’s why Gaza’s fishermen are not allowed to travel more than three miles from the coast, which dramatically reduces their catch. And it’s why Israel prevents Gazan students from studying in the West Bank, a policy recently denounced by 10 winners of the prestigious Israel Prize. There’s a name for all this: collective punishment.
Mark Leon Goldberg on the blockade of medical supplies, and the results:
The World Health Organization seems to be seizing on the spotlight by renewing a call to allow for the unimpeded access into Gaza of medical supplies and technical know-how. From a WHO statement released moments ago:
Hundreds of items of equipment have been waiting to enter Gaza for up to a year, procured by WHO and other organizations, says Mr Tony Laurance, head of WHO’s office for Gaza and the West Bank. These items include CT scanners, x-rays, fluoroscopes, infusion pumps, medical sterilization gasses, laboratory equipment, UPS (uninterrupted power supply) batteries, and spare parts for support systems like elevators.
“It is impossible to maintain a safe and effective healthcare system under the conditions of siege that have been in place now since June 2007,” Mr Laurance says. “It is not enough to simply ensure supplies like drugs and consumables. Medical equipment and spare parts must be available and be properly maintained.”
Gaza’s second biggest hospital, the Gaza-European Hospital, operates without 2 out of its 3 elevators not functioning due to disrepair.
All hospitals have been waiting for over 6 months to get spare parts to repair their main sterilizers.
Spare parts needed for the cardiac catheterization laboratories in the Gaza-European Hospital have been waiting to enter for 6 months.
Daniel Larison on the efficacy – at least in relation to the stated goals:
Th[e] economic and political purpose of the blockade has never been a secret. During Operation Cast Lead, we heard all about how inflicting deprivation and misery on the Gazan population with the siege was intended to turn the population against Hamas>. As I noted at the time, sanctions and embargoes do not cause people to rise up against their rulers, but they do make them resent the people imposing the sanctions and embargoes. Now that the blockade has produced an enormous political disaster, we are supposed to forget about that and focus on arms smuggling that has nothing to do with what the flotilla was attempting to bring to Gaza.
The blockade is a policy aimed at the steady immiseration and deeper impoverishment of Gazans. This not only deflects attention from Hamas’ abuses and misrule, but it also ensures that there will not be enough prosperity in the future to foster any sort of viable political opposition against Hamas. That tells me that Israel is actually quite willing to tolerate a Hamas-run enclave on its doorstep so long as it can keep the people living there poor and dependent.
Poor and dependent?
The great catastrophe is not starvation, but the fact that 80% of the population are charity cases. In OCHA’s eyes, Gaza is not Somalia, but there is a crisis of human dignity there. [...]
Even when it comes to food, [UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)] maintained in a study published in August 2009 that Gazans are suffering from what it calls “food insecurity.” According to the organization, 1.1 million of Gaza’s 1.5 million population is food insecure, up from just over half in 2008.
“The main causes of food insecurity are the increase in poverty, the destruction of agricultural assets, and the inflation in prices of key food items,” it wrote.
Operation Cast Lead severely damaged the industrial sector in Gaza, which had already been badly hit by the blockade imposed by Israel in June 2007. According to a study published by the Palestinian Trade Center and the Palestinian Federation of Industries, 44% of a sample of 324 industries in Gaza were totally damaged during the fighting. Those that resumed production afterwards, rehired only 23% of their original work force.
Overall, more than 40% of Gaza’s workforce, amounting to 140,000 people, is unemployed.
That seems to be the result.