Back in late March, I linked to a story that discussed some revelations gleaned from the diaries of Abu Zubaydah, and the surrounding events. Among the more disturbing allegations was the claim that Zubaydah was experimented on to test the parameters of where to draw the line in terms of torture techniques. From that piece:
For example, one current and three former CIA officials said some videotapes showed Zubaydah being sleep deprived for more than two weeks. Contractors hired by the CIA studied how he responded psychologically and physically to being kept awake for that amount of time. By looking at videotapes, they concluded that after the 11th consecutive day of being kept awake Zubaydah started to “severely break down.” So, the torture memo concluded that 11 days of sleep deprivation was legal and did not meet the definition of torture.
“I would describe it this way,” said one former National Security official. “[Zubaydah] was an experiment. A guinea pig. I’m sure you’ve heard that a lot. There were many enhanced interrogation [methods] tested on him that have never been discussed before we settled on the 10 [techniques].”
The Zubaydah story has recently received some corroboration, and the picture painted moves beyond merely ugly into outright vile:
In the most comprehensive investigation to date of health professionals’ involvement in the CIA’s “enhanced” interrogation program (EIP), Physicians For Human Rights has uncovered evidence that indicates the Bush administration apparently conducted illegal and unethical human experimentation and research on detainees in CIA custody. The apparent experimentation and research appear to have been performed to provide legal cover for torture, as well as to help justify and shape future procedures and policies governing the use of the “enhanced” interrogation techniques. The PHR report, Experiments in Torture: Human Subject Research and Evidence of Experimentation in the ‘Enhanced’ Interrogation Program, is the first to provide evidence that CIA medical personnel engaged in the crime of illegal experimentation after 9/11, in addition to the previously disclosed crime of torture. [...]
“The CIA appears to have broken all accepted legal and ethical standards put in place since the Second World War to protect prisoners from being the subjects of experimentation,” said Frank Donaghue, PHR’s Chief Executive Officer. “Not only are these alleged acts gross violations of human rights law, they are a grave affront to America’s core values.” [...]
“In their attempt to justify the war crime of torture, the CIA appears to have committed another alleged war crime – illegal experimentation on prisoners,” said Nathaniel A. Raymond, Director of PHR’s Campaign Against Torture and lead report author. “Justice Department lawyers appear to never have assessed the lawfulness of the alleged research on detainees in CIA custody, despite how essential it appears to have been to their legal cover for torture.” [...]
The PHR report indicates that there is evidence that health professionals engaged in research on detainees that violates the Geneva Conventions, The Common Rule, the Nuremberg Code and other international and domestic prohibitions against illegal human subject research and experimentation. Declassified government documents indicate that:
- Research and medical experimentation on detainees was used to measure the effects of large- volume waterboarding and adjust the procedure according to the results. After medical monitoring and advice, the CIA experimentally added saline, in an attempt to prevent putting detainees in a coma or killing them through over-ingestion of large amounts of plain water. The report observes: “‘Waterboarding 2.0′ was the product of the CIA’s developing and field-testing an intentionally harmful practice, using systematic medical monitoring and the application of subsequent generalizable knowledge.”
- Health professionals monitored sleep deprivation on more than a dozen detainees in 48-, 96- and 180-hour increments. This research was apparently used to monitor and assess the effects of varying levels of sleep deprivation to support legal definitions of torture and to plan future sleep deprivation techniques.
- Health professionals appear to have analyzed data, based on their observations of 25 detainees who were subjected to individual and combined applications of “enhanced” interrogation techniques, to determine whether one type of application over another would increase the subject’s “susceptibility to severe pain.” The alleged research appears to have been undertaken only to assess the legality of the “enhanced” interrogation tactics and to guide future application of the techniques.
Experiments in Torture: Human Subject Research and Experimentation in the ‘Enhanced’ Interrogation Program is the most in-depth expert review to date of the legal and medical ethics issues concerning health professionals’ involvement in researching, designing and supervising the CIA’s “enhanced” interrogation program. The Experiments in Torture report is the result of six months of investigation and the review of thousands of pages of government documents. It has been peer-reviewed by outside experts in the medical, biomedical and research ethics fields, legal experts, health professionals and experts in the treatment of torture survivors.
As is consistent with the emergent pattern, the Obama administration is apparently perpetuating Bush era crimes and civil liberties abuses:
PHR’s report, Experiments in Torture, is relevant to present-day national security interrogations, as well as Bush-era detainee treatment policies. As recently as February, 2010, President Obama’s then director of national intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, disclosed that the US had established an elite interrogation unit that will conduct “scientific research” to improve the questioning of suspected terrorists. Admiral Blair declined to provide important details about this effort.
PHR is calling for an investigation into these matters by the Justice Department, but given the Obama administration’s ongoing involvement, such a probe remains extremely unlikely. Which, it seems, should be considered as the primary motivation for Obama’s repeated unwillingness to “look back” and investigate Bush era war crimes and other malfeasance: in doing so, the Obama administration would likely be building the case for its own prosecution. And so the cycle of government overreach, and the concomitant erosion of individual liberties, is reinforced and unlikely to be broken in the near future.
Quite the opposite: even though Obama has kept many, if not most, of the Bush era regime in place, Obama is being relentlessly attacked from the right for going soft on terror. With an opposition party that is arguing for more and bigger bites out of civil rights and individual liberties, civli libertarian push back is exceedingly unlikely (assuming any will on the part of enough Democratic leaders in the first place).
On the other hand, Bush (and, by extension, Obama of course) might want to be extra careful about his choices of overseas travel destinations. The rest of the world might not be so cowed by complicity. Eventually.
…And now Andrew McCarthy would like to throw us all aside and put us all away. No, seriously. John Holbo, bless his soul, delves into the pathology prevalent in Andrew Mcarthy’s new book – like Jonah Goldberg’s infamous masterpiece, but with a twist. Call it Liberal Islamofascim for short:
A couple posts back I quoted Andrew McCarthy re: his new book, Grand Jihad: what is the nature of the “partnership” – “effective partnership” – between the Obama-led left and the terrorists/Islamists?
“In order to establish their respective utopias they need to push out of the way American constitutional republican democracy. That’s the biggest obstacle to both of them.”
So the Obama-led left and the terrorists/Islamists are, in effect, ganging up on the United States constitutional order, in an enemy of my enemy spirit. This is strong stuff because it explicitly rules out the more charitable interpretation that Obama and the left are just clueless about strategy and tactics. It would be one thing for them to adopt counter-productive policies with perverse consequences. But you don’t attempt this sort of Machiavellian bank shot – aiming at overthrowing the American constitutional order by aiding and abetting enemies of the state – unless you are actually attempting this sort of Machiavellian bank shot. Just to confirm that McCarthy is not slightly mis-speaking in an interview, we can quote from a written Q&A in which he makes the same point, being quite clear that he is not accusing Obama and the left merely of incompetence. (In my previous post I made fun of McCarthy by asking whether Obama is like Benjamin Linus to Islamism’s Smoky. McCarthy makes clear, in this Q&A that he thinks that is pretty much exactly the right sort of analogy.)
So it seems silly to me to rationalize that the Left has lots to lose in a partnership with Islamists — as if we were talking about a hypothetical. The cooperation is happening. The better question is: Why? The easy answer is that the two sides have more in common than they have in opposition. Moreover, to say that the Left would suffer more than anyone under Sharia law misses the point. We are not in a situation where the only ones left are the radical Left and the Islamists — where they would square off against each other. Instead, we are at a point in history when they both have a more pressing common enemy: the culture of freedom in the West. As they have done numerous times in the past, they will work together to try to defeat that enemy. Once that happens — if we let it happen — then they can figure out which one is the crocodile and which one the last appeaser to be eaten.
Despite the audacity of the claims, and the incindiery nature of the charges, the evidence marshalled by McCarthy amounts to little more than guilt-by-some tangential common ground on distinct and unrelated issues (and even then, not really):
Consider, by way of illustration, this post by McCarthy at Powerline. The bold bits, in particular. The evidence that there is some grand alliance between Islamists and Leftists, when McCarthy finally produces it, is … that the left supports health care reform, and there are some Muslim groups that favor the versions of health care reform that the left tends to support. (In another interview he mentions that some Muslim groups favor unions, too.) And there are Muslims concerned about global warming, and the left is worried about global warming …
since the book was published last week, I’ve been asked questions like: “So, are you saying that President Obama wants to implement sharia?” and ” Isn’t it true that if Islamists came to power, the Left would have a lot to fear?” Again, the alliance between Islamists and Leftists (not all progressives, but the modern hard Left) is an alliance, not a merger. Leftists and Islamists have worked together numerous times in history and, as we look around us today, we see them working together on Obamacare, global warming, the Palestinian cause, the campaign to close Gitmo, the campaign endow terrorists with constitutional rights, and so on. That they work together is not a hypothesis on my part; this partnership exists, period. And why it exists is simply explained, it if we are willing to look at the facts. While they differ on a number of significant issues, Islamists and Leftists are in harmony on many parts of the big picture. Islamism and today’s Leftism (which, as I note in the book, David Horowitz aptly calls “neocommunism”) are both authoritarian ideologies: they favor a muscular central government, virulently reject capitalism, and are totalitarian in the sense that they want to dictate all aspects human life. They both see the individual as existing to serve the greater community (the state or the umma). Saliently, they have a common enemy: Western culture, American constitutional republicanism, and their foundation, individual liberty.
When I argue that Islamists and Leftists are working together to sabotage America, this is what I am talking about. Historically, when Islamists and Leftists collaborate against a common enemy (e.g., the Shah in Iran, the monarchy in Egypt), these marriages of convenience break apart when the common enemy has been eliminated. We are a long way from that point in America – and, hopefully, we never reach it. We must expect, though, that Islamists and Leftists will continue their alliance as long as the Western way of life remains an obstacle to their respective utopias.
Even these brief excerpts are so rife with irony, self-refutation and contradiction that the task of taking on the claims individually is daunting. Luckily, Holbo did much of the heavy lifting.
On a side note, it is telling that the two historical episodes that McCarthy selects as examples of the nefarious collaboration between Leftists and Islamists are the toppling of the brutal dictatorship of the Shah in Iran (himself ascending to power after a CIA enabled coup) and the usurpation of the Egyptian monarchy. In other words, the Left is apparently so determined to undermine constitutional republicanism that it had the temerity to help take down two undemocratic regimes. Right.
Further, it deserves to be emphasized that McCarthy is a vehement supporter of the government’s right to torture, right to indefinitely detain without trial (for some), require military tribunals (for others), suspend habeas corpus rights, withhold the recitation of Miranda rights, conduct warrantless wiretaps, etc. - all for suspected and accused terrorists (including where same are US citizens), not just convicted terrorists mind you. If it were left up to McCarthy, many of the accused would never even get to the stage of the game where their innocence or guilt is determined.
And yet he accuses the “Left” of laboring to undermine “American constitutional republicanism” and “individual liberty” – precisely because the Left is working to ensure that Constitutional protections still apply to the accused and, in some cases, convicted. Irony seems too mild a term. Doublespeak overly tame. This is uglier than that.
Adam Serwer teases out just one of the absurdities:
But I do want to point out one flaw in the right-wing’s conspiracy theory charging that support for the rule of law is evidence of terrorist sympathies — a great deal of the lawyers who represent or have represented Guantanamo Bay detainees are Jewish. Not Jewish by birth, or culturally Jewish, but observant, even Zionist, Jews.
Now, to accept McCarthy’s premise, one has to believe that these Jewish lawyers aren’t really Jews but are secretly anti-Semites pretending to be Jews or possibly self-hating Jews looking to aid in the annihilation of the Jewish people by, um — making sure the U.S. government is imprisoning and punishing actual terrorists. That sounds absurd, although I’m guessing McCarthy’s never really thought about it before. Maybe he addresses this in his book — I’d be interested to see how he handles it.
The obvious explanation for this phenomenon of course is that Jews are (a) mostly liberals who believe in due process and (b) a historically persecuted group that gets anxious about groups of people being singled out and denied basic legal rights.
Anyway, the point of this post is that the prominence of Jewish lawyers among those defending the legal rights of terror suspects is one of the questions that McCarthy might have considered before alleging this entire terrorism-liberalism axis, if he weren’t living life in a red haze subsisting on a diet of sour grapes and spilt milk.
That may be what he’s eating, but he’s feeding his readers a steady diet of BS.
Well, can’t say I didn’t warn ya. Adam Serwer:
Two New Jersey men, Mohamed Mahmood Alessa and Carlos Eduardo Almonte, were arrested at JFK airport yesterday on suspicion of trying to join Al-Shabaab, the Somali terrorist group that has been affiliated with al-Qaeda. I’ve written about this before, but in light of the arrests, it’s worth pointing out again that this group — which has recruited more Americans than any other al-Qaeda allied organization, including the first American suicide bomber — would not have existed in its current form were it not for the Bush-backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2006.
The Bush administration intervened because it wanted to depose the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which ruled harshly but provided stability and had some relatively moderate elements. The invasion empowered the hardliners, and a former ICU leader who was later elected president and imposed Sharia law anyway. The ongoing civil war between Islamic radicals and the unstable government has drawn hundreds of terror recruits from around the world. This whole situation is a lesson in the unintended consequences of military intervention.
As the situation in Somalia shows, discrediting al-Qaeda and its allies and drying up their recruiting pool cannot be achieved through military means alone. Having attempted to do so in Somalia in 2006, the U.S. helped empower a terrorist organization that has shown an uncanny ability to recruit Americans — even for high-profile leadership positions.
Who could have known that backing Somalia’s long time and bitter regional rival, Ethiopia, in its “magnanimous” invasion of that country would result in further instability (a long time stated goal of Ethiopia), increased violence, increased radicalization, increased anti-Americanism, increased humanitarian crises and the empowerment of more extreme elements – Now with 100% more blowback?
It’s almost as if Counterterrorism 101 had some merit.
When discussing the blockade of Gaza, the tendency in the Western media is to focus on what is Israel’s legitimate interest in denying arms shipments in light of the rocket attacks emanating from that territory. However, the reality is that the blockade goes far, far beyond interdicting arms shipments, and instead becomes a policy of collective punishment aimed at severely impoverishing the Gaza region in order to retaliate against the entire population for the majority’s election of Hamas, and perhaps to inspire the population to reject Hamas’ leadership. As Matt Yglesias points out, it should be remembered that the majority of Gaza’s residents are children, making this form of collective punishment particularly odious.
Via Matt, Yousef Munayyer provides a concise an informative breakdown of just what the blockade has meant to the civilians in Gaza:
Electricity: The siege has led to a significant lack of power in the Gaza Strip. In 2006, Israel carried out an attack on Gaza’s only power plant and never permitted the rebuilding to its pre-attack capacity (down to producing 80 megawatts maximum from 140 megawatts). According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), the daily electricity deficit has increased since January of 2010 with the plant only able to operate one turbine producing only 30 megawatts compared to its previous average of 60-65 megawatts in 2009. The majority of houses have power cuts at least eight hours per day. Some have no electricity for long as 12 hours a day. The lack of electricity has led to reliance on generators, many of which have exploded from overwork, killing and maiming civilians. Oxfam reported that “[in 2009], a total of 75 Palestinians died from carbon monoxide gas poisoning or fires from generators, and 15 died and 27 people were injured in the first two months of this year.”
Water: Israel has not permitted supplies into the Gaza Strip to rebuild the sewage system. Amnesty International reports that 90-95 percent of the drinking water in Gaza is contaminated and unfit for consumption. The United Nations even found that bottled water in Gaza contained contaminants, likely due to the plastic bottles recycled in dysfunctional factories. The lack of sufficient power for desalination and sewage facilities results in significant amounts of sewage seeping into Gaza’s costal aquifer–the main source of water for the people of Gaza.
Industry: Prior to the siege, the industrial sector employed 20 percent of Gaza’s labor force. One year after the siege began, the Palestinian Federation of Industries reported that “61% of the factories have completely closed down. 1% was forced to change their scope of work in order to meet their living expenses, 38% were partially closed (sometimes means they operate with less than 15% capacity)”. A World Health Organization report from this year states: “In the Gaza Strip, private enterprise is practically at a standstill as a consequence of the blockade. Almost all (98%) industrial operations have been shut down. The construction sector, which before September 2000 provided 15% of all jobs, has effectively halted. Only 258 industrial establishments in Gaza were operational in 2009 compared with over 2400 in 2006. As a result, unemployment rates have soared to 42% (up from 32% before the blockade).”
Health: Gaza’s health sector, dramatically overworked, was also significantly damaged by Operation Cast Lead. According to UN OCHA, infrastructure for 15 of 27 of Gaza’s hospitals, 43 of 110 of its primary care facilities, and 29 of its 148 ambulances were damaged or destroyed during the war. Without rebuilding materials like cement and glass due to Israeli restrictions, the vast majority of the destroyed health infrastructure has not been rebuilt. Many medical procedures for advanced illnesses are not available in Gaza. 1103 individuals applied for permits to exit the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing for medical treatment in 2009. 21 percent of these permits were denied or delayed resulting in missed hospital appointments, and several have died waiting to leave Gaza for treatment.
Food: A 2010 World Health Organization that “chronic malnutrition in the Gaza Strip has risen over the past few years and has now reached 10.2%. Micronutrient deficiencies among children and women have reached levels that are of concern.” According to UN OCHA: “Over 60 percent of households are now food insecure, threatening the health and wellbeing of children, women and men. In this context, agriculture offers some practical solutions to a humanitarian problem. However, Israel’s import and access restrictions continue to suffocate the agriculture sector and directly contribute to rising food insecurity. Of particular concern, farmers and fishers’ lives are regularly put at risk, due to Israel’s enforcement of its access restrictions. The fact that this coastal population now imports fish from Israel and through tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border speaks to the absurdity of the situation.” 72 percent of Gaza’s fish profit comes from beyond the three nautical mile mark, but further restrictions by Israel’s naval blockade prevents Gazans from fishing beyond that mark. Between 2008 and 2009 the fishing catch was down 47 percent.
To reiterate: Israel is justified in preventing arms shipments to Gaza. Israel is in no way morally or ethically justified to debilitate over a million Gazans, most of which are children, in these ways. It is shameful.
Apparently, this was self defense:
Nine Turkish activists killed in an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship were shot a total of 30 times and five died of gunshot wounds to the head, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported on Friday.
Autopsy results showed the men were hit mostly with 9mm bullets, many fired at close range, the Guardian said, quoting Yalcin Buyuk, vice-chairman of the Turkish council of forensic medicine which carried out the autopsies on Friday. [...]
The autopsy results showed that a 60-year-old man, Ibrahim Bilgen, was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back, the Guardian said.
A 19-year-old, named as Fulkan Dogan, who also has U.S. citizenship, was shot five times from less than 45 cm (18 inches) away, in the face, the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back, it said.
Two other men were shot four times. Five of those killed were shot either in the back of the head or in the back, the Guardian quoted Buyuk as saying.
In addition to those killed, 48 others suffered gunshot wounds and six activists were still missing, he added.
Steve Hynd has a fairly comprehensive round-up of first hand accounts of the Israeli raid on the flotilla as provided by journalists covering the event, as well as the activists on board.
As Israel releases detained activists and journalists after the assault on the Gaza relief flotilla, they are beginning to tell their version of events…
Most importantly, every witness who has so far spoken out contradicts the Israeli account of some kind of self-defense, saying that the Israelis first attacked in boats and that they had already opened fire on the flotilla before commandos began descending from helicopters. They also agree that several people were shot from behind or above, that the Israeli attackers didn’t immediately allow treatment of convoy wounded and that weapons ripped from the hands of commandos were stripped of their ammunition and thrown overboard.
Perhaps the best eyewitness account to begin with is that of Paul McGeough, twice named Australia’s journalist of the year. He writes:
The Israeli attack was timed for dawn prayers – when a good number of the men aboard the Mavi Marmara were praying on the aft deck of the big Turkish passenger ferry, as it motored steadily through international waters in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
…Suddenly sound bombs and tear gas were exploding on the main aft deck, where prayers were held five times a day. The life-jacketed passengers on the rails at first seemed oblivious as those behind them donned the few gas masks that were on board and others, wearing asbestos gloves, sought to grab the devices and hurl them back at the Israeli commandos before they exploded.
In failing to get their grappling irons to hold on the rails of the five-deck ferry, the commandos in their Zodiac-style assault craft continued to be an irritant, or perhaps a decoy because at this point the Israelis opted for a critical change of plan – if they could not come up from the water, they would have to drop from the sky.
On hearing the machines, activists on the upper decks rushed to the top level of the ship – grabbing the commandos even before they landed, disarming them; beating them until, according to some who were present, leaders demanded the Israelis not be harmed; but in one case, one of the Israelis was hurled from one deck of the ship to the next.
…There were conflicting accounts of the first commando landing – some activists said he was injured and was being carried inside the ship for treatment by the flotilla doctors. However, a Serbian cameraman, Srojan Stojiljkovic, said some of the activists had armed themselves with lengths of chain and metal posts that had served as cordons around the ship’s lifeboats.
“Some of the people caught the first commando before he touched the deck – a few started to hit him, but a lot of people moved in to shelter him with their bodies,” the cameraman said. “Another soldier with a bleeding nose was brought in … a few people threw punches, but not as many as I would have expected.”
Matthias Gardel, a leader of the Swedish Palestinian support group, confirmed the soldiers had been beaten, but insisted those involved were unarmed and in keeping with the ship’s non-violent charter, the soldiers’ weapons were thrown overboard.
McGeough also notes that at least two people were shot from behind while treating wounded, another was shot from above.
The Turkish actor Sinan Albayrak said he had witnessed one of the most senior of the Turkish activists ordering passengers to cease beating two of the Israeli soldiers. Later, he saw a Turkish photographer who had been shot in the back of the head; while he and others had been attempting to assist another injured activist, “Israeli troops had opened fire on them . . . we ran away from the injured man”.
The dead include a Turkish journalist, Chetin Genghis, whose head wounds suggested he had been shot from above – possibly from one of the helicopters. After witnessing his dying moments, his colleague Hisham Goruney said:”I want to forget – I still don’t believe that I saw it.”
Another of the dead was said to be an Indonesian cameraman, Sura Fachrizaz, shot in the chest. Also among the dead was a Malaysian doctor who, activists said, was shot while treating the wounded.
All of these elements are confirmed by other witness accounts.
Indeed, there are several accounts compiled by Hynd, and they are all in general agreement about this sequence of events. Each and every one claims that Israeli commandoes were using stun grenades, tear gas and possibly some other ordnance before the commandos began rapelling on to the deck.
Kind of changes things in terms of judging the reaction of those being boarded.
Also of note, Israeli journalist Noam Sheizaf claims that Israel has confiscated all of the film and photgraphs taken by the journalists and activists, as well as the ship’s own security camera footage:
Israel has confiscated some of the most important material for the investigation, namely the films, audio and photos taken by the passengers [and] journalists on board and the Mavi Marmara’s security cameras. Since yesterday, Israel has been editing these films and using them for its own PR campaign. In other words, Israel has already confiscated most of the evidence, held it from the world and tampered with it. No court in the world would [trust] it to be the one examining it.
There needs to be an investigation, and it can’t be conducted by Israel.
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.