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Int'l Outcry For End to Gaza Collective Punishment Grows

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International Outcry Calls for End to Israeli Blockade of Gaza Strip
By Challiss McDonough
21 January 2008

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There is growing concern from the international community about the four-day Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, after the territory's only power station shut down for lack of fuel. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has phoned Israeli leaders to warn them of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza. VOA Correspondent Challiss McDonough has more from Cairo.

(This blockade has been ongoing for months now. It's only recently been made even worse.)

A Palestinian family reads by candlelight, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, 20 Jan 2008
The blockade of Gaza is sparking anger and concern from Arab states and elsewhere.

Gaza City has been plunged into darkness as the territory's only power station has shut down for lack of fuel. Hospitals in the city are running on generators, but their fuel supplies are reportedly running low.

Although fuel deliveries from Israel have been halted and the power station in Gaza city shut down, Israel supplies about 70 percent of Gaza's electricity, and has not cut off that service. Israel says it imposed the blockade to try to halt rocket attacks against its territory from Gaza.

(However, the original blockade was about "suffocating Hamas", and Israel's defense staff warned that imposing these illegal measures would provoke rocket attacks. So, as it has done consistently throughout its brutal history, Israel is now attempting to excuse its crimes by citing the violence its own actions provoked.)

The blockade has been criticized by Egypt and Jordan, the only two Arab countries to sign peace deals with Israel, as well as by other states in the region, including Syria, Lebanon and Kuwait. The Arab League held an emergency session to ask the international community to increase pressure on Israel to lift the blockade.

(The UN, Red Cross, and all Israeli and international human rights organizations, have also condemned these illegal measures.)

There were protests in Jordan and Lebanon in support of Hamas, which has run the Gaza Strip since violently taking power there in June.

(This isn't exactly what happened. Hamas was democratically elected, but Israel and the US don't like them, so they attempted to overthrow Hamas in a military coup, using corrupt elements of Fatah as proxies. The coup failed, and Hamas kicked out these traitors. Censoring Neo-Con Role in Gaza Crisis )

The Egyptian government said President Hosni Mubarak telephoned the Israeli prime minister and defense minister to warn them of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossam Zaki told VOA Mr. Mubarak called for the lifting of the siege.

"The president demanded that Israel stops the action that it has taken against the strip," he said. "We view this action as collective punishment that is contrary to the Geneva Convention ... The Israelis have to cease this action immediately and resume the fueling of the electricity stations so that the humanitarian situation does not deteriorate into a total catastrophe."

The European Union external relations commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, urged Israel to allow shipments of fuel and medicine, and to open border crossings.

(But, like al other Fascist powers, Israel will not stop until someone actually makes them stop.)

Palestinian man carries sacks of flour supplied by UN in Gaza City, 21 January 2008

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he will not let a humanitarian catastrophe unfold, but he says Gaza's 1.5 million residents should not be able to live, what he called, "a pleasant and comfortable life" as long as southern Israel comes under rocket attack from Gaza.

(Proving that he IS Collectively Punishing them, which is a War Crime. I guess the people firing the rockets feel the same way, as Israel's defence staff predicted ...)

Hamas leader in Gaza and former Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniya called for the government to throw open the Egyptian border with Gaza.

There were reports of a protest on the Palestinian side of the border.

The Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman insisted that Egypt's border with Gaza was not the issue.

Speaking in Damascus, exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal addressed himself directly to President Mubarak.

Meshaal called on the Egyptian leader to tell Israel and the United States that the siege of Gaza must end. If the territory's electricity is not restored, he said, Egypt will bear responsibility for the people of Gaza.

Palestinian water authority: 40% of Gazans lack running water
Amira Hass, Haaretz Correspondent

January 22, 2008

Gaza Strip residents Monday moved from worrying about the electricity cuts of the previous 40 hours to worrying about a water shortage. The municipality needs electricity to bring water to homes and the houses need it to pump water to the roof tanks. Hence 40 percent of Gaza Strip homes - 600,000 people - had no running water Monday, the Palestinian water authority said.

Oxfam International said Monday that unless diesel and fuel supplies were resumed immediately, all the Strip's water pumps could stop working Tuesday. The non-governmental organization also warned of the sewage system's collapse in the absence of diesel.

"Without electric power we can manage somehow, without bread too," says a resident of the Nasser neighborhood in northern Gaza. "It's cold enough to prevent the food from going bad and we try to open the refrigerator as little as possible. The kids grumble but they can learn to live without the computer. But without water?"

"We calculate each step," he says. "We don't put on the gas heaters, because tomorrow might be colder. We don't cook for long. But to consider whether to go to the toilet? Whether to wash our face? That is insufferable."

The Israeli human rights organizations Adalah and Gisha Monday petitioned the High Court of Justice for an urgent interim injunction to prevent Israel from continuing to restrict the industrial diesel oil supply to the Gaza Strip. They said the shortage deriving from Israel's deliberate cuts in recent weeks culminated in the dramatic closure of the border crossings on Friday. The power cuts caused a shortage of drinking water and damage to the hospitals' function already on January 5, when Gaza's electric power's production was cut by 30 percent. But the High Court of Justice dismissed their request.

From small transistor radios, people listened to Al-Jazeera news broadcasts on local radio stations throughout the day. This was their only link to the world, as no newspapers are reaching the Strip either. The report of the defense minister's order to resume the diesel supply reached one Gaza City resident while he was sitting on the sofa at home, wrapped in a blanket. The gas in the heater ran out on Sunday. His daughters and wife were also covered with blankets, as were most city residents. It was the only thing they could do, to ward off the cold.

He asked himself if the resumption of diesel supply - if indeed the promise was kept - would change the picture he saw from his window: a grid of dark streets. The weak light, coming from the windows of a few apartments that had private generators, only enhanced the darkness all around.

The poor and the sick suffer as Israel cuts power to Gaza
Tuesday, January 22, 2008

By Donald Macintyre in Gaza City

Mansour Rahal lay unconscious in the intensive care unit of Gaza City's Shifa hospital, linked to an electrically powered ventilator, the coloured monitor above his head showing his heart, respiration and oxygen saturation rate.

On Thursday last week, the teenager was driving his donkey cart through Beit Lahiya when it was destroyed by a missile which targeted militants in a nearby car. The rocket killed his mother and older brother, and Mansour contracted meningitis after suffering severe head wounds.

His hopes of survival yesterday depended on there being enough diesel to keep in operation the four generators which were Shifa's only source of power. His doctor, Kamal al-Geathny, said: "If we lose power, he and six other patients in this unit will die."

This was the scene at the hospital yesterday before Israel authorised limited supplies of fuel and medicine to Gaza after a wave of international condemnation for its imposition of a four-day-old total embargo, which left much of the Strip without electricity. The EU called the blockade a " collective punishment" of the Palestinians in Gaza.

The embargo caused industrial diesel to run out, shutting down Gaza's only power station on Sunday, plunging Gaza City into darkness. Large parts of it are still without power.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA, transferred some of its own fuel yesterday to Shifa Hospital and the European Hospital in Khan Yunis, which were running on generators because of the fuel blockade imposed to put pressure on Hamas to stop Qassam rocket attacks on Israel.

Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aryeh Mekel, said 2.2 million litres of industrial fuel for the power plant, 500,000 litres of diesel for generators and supplies of cooking gas would be allowed in, along with 50 trucks of food and medicine, but the restrictions on petrol would continue.

UNRWA was also hoping for a delivery of the nylon bags with which it packs basic emergency food rations such as rice and lentils for about 870,000 Gaza residents. But Christopher Gunness, the agency's chief spokesman, said: " This drip drip, door closed, door left ajar approach makes it very difficult to provide for the needs of well nigh a million people in Gaza."

The Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, had earlier declared: "As far as I'm concerned, all the residents of Gaza can walk and have no fuel ... because they have a murderous terrorist regime that doesn't allow people in the south of Israel to live in peace."

Officials suggested that continued supplies would depend on whether the barrages of rockets into Israel continued. "We are not committing on how often we will do this," said Shlomo Dror, of the Israeli military's civil administration.

Israeli media quoted a Defence Ministry official saying that the lull in rocket attacks on Israel in the past three days appeared to show that " they have got the message in Gaza".

John Ging, UNRWA's director of operations in Gaza, said the people of Sderot, the Israeli town worst hit by Qassam fire, were entitled to protection. But he said the majority of Gazans did not support the attacks and were powerless to prevent them.

"We cannot measure punitive sanctions, collective in their nature, by the number of rockets fired. One's actions have to be measured against the rule of law, the legal standards that are the fabric of civilised society," said Mr Ging.

Sari Bashi, the director of the Israeli civil rights group Gisha, said Israel had done by the "back door" what it was prevented from doing by the Supreme Court – cutting directly the electricity supplies from Israel which provide well over half of Gaza's power. Gisha said the crisis had been "planned in advance".

Mr Ging agreed with the managers of Gaza's power station, who rejected Israeli claims that Hamas had exaggerated the crisis. "The representative of the government of Israel who said that was quite obviously misinformed about the reality here, and needs to be made accountable for making that statement," he said.

Sami Jala al-Abdallah, the operations engineer at the power station, said it was shut down when there was the absolute minimum of fuel needed to keep the equipment working. He and the other engineers had sought permission to close the power station at 3pm on Sunday but the Hamas-run Gaza Energy Authority " begged" them to keep it open for another five hours.

UN officials pointed out that the partial lifting of the blockade would not help Gaza's economy because an import/export ban imposed following Hamas's enforced takeover of Gaza in June was still in place. Mr Ging added: " Since June, there have been 70 per cent fewer imports than before [the ban] – and before June the situation was already desperate."

Dr Geathny, who spent seven years working at the Shaere Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem, and says he had maintained contact with Jewish former colleagues " until now", said he believed "most people in Israel want to live in peace". He added: I think the problem is the Israeli government and that is what my [Israeli former] colleagues think also."

Asked whether Qassam rocket attacks were the main factor behind Israel's embargo, he said: "I think we are just witnessing a cycle of more and more violence."

There was no independent confirmation last night of a warning by Dr Raed al-Arani, a surgeon and spokesman for Shifa Hospital, that its four generators had only 24 hours of fuel left. Dr al-Arani also claimed that five patients brought to the hospital in the past 24 hours, including three babies, had died either from hypothermia or from power cuts interrupting their vital oxygen supplies at home.

As Predicted: Gaza Reoccupation Planned

As Predicted: Israel Attacks Gaza

Gaza Food Supplies 'Getting Worse by the Day'

Israel Destroys Gaza Interior Ministry, Blocks UN Aid

Probe: At Least Half of Palestinians Killed by IDF Were Civilians

Israeli Attacks on Palestinians, Killings, Doubled Since Annapolis

UN Condemns Collective Punishment of Gaza

UN Condemns 'Cowardly Israeli War Crime'


Palestinian violence

Another idiot appologist for Palestinian violence. Its condescending racist to view Palestinian violence with a lower standard than one would view other people's violence, as if Palestinians were simple prinmitves unable to control their base emotions. Typical paternalistic Leftist racism!

If its true, its not slander

If its true, its not slander! All of what I've said is documented, AND anyone can buy a rusty old key in the shuk and tell lies to their children. Only Palestinans think that a real estate dispute entitles them to some sort of soveriegnty. Here's a bit of truth, never in history was there ever an Arab state of Palestine. 2/3 of the British Mandate of Palestine was carved off into an Arab homeland, and today its called "Jordan."

Re: Int'l Outcry For End to Gaza Collective Punishment Grows

The "Break the siege" of Gaza campaign was conceived and planned months ago.
The problem- Israel wasn't doing anything outrageous. What could they complain about?
Then Annapolis came, and the prospect of peace talks caused panic with the Palestinians.
The constant barrage of attacks on Israel in the last ten days was the result. Of course Israel would react- and viola the spontaneous grassroots "break the siege campaign" was born, er instituted
This is meant to take steam away from Israel's 60th birthday party. The Gaza floatilla is timed just for that (No, thats not spontaneous or grassroots, either. Any many of the women who volunteered are complaining now, because the ISM is demanding they maintain Muslim standards of dress in gaza. Sorry Allison, no bikinis.)

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