Thursday, August 27, 2015

Over 540,000 Sign Petition Calling for Gaza's Blockade to be Lifted

Avaaz has released a petition calling for the lifting of the blockade on Gaza.
A year after the devastating war on Gaza, thousands of children are still sleeping in the rubble of their homes.

Even though it is a clear violation of international law, Israel's blockade has restricted basic building materials going in. But no child should be made to live in the ruins of their home, study with bomb blasts through their classrooms, or not get basic health care because clinics have been destroyed.

We have a plan to change this -- Avaaz has joined forces with top aid agencies working in Gaza to launch an emergency campaign to call on key donors to get the materials in. As the main governments paying to rebuild Gaza, they can insist Israel lifts the restrictions.

If we create a worldwide outcry too loud to ignore, we can push our governments to move beyond words, and ramp up diplomacy to end the blockade. Sign the petition -- it’s time to show our leaders inaction on this humanitarian crisis is unacceptable. (Avaaz.)
  Here is the petition addressed to world leaders:
To UN Special Coordinator Mladenov, Presidents Obama and Hollande, Chancellor Merkel, PM Cameron, Sheikh Al Thani, EU VP Mogherini, and all other world leaders:

One year on from the Israeli military operation in Gaza, we are calling on you to press Israel to end the blockade and to immediately remove wood, steel bars, cement, aggregates, and other essential construction materials from the list of items restricted from entering the Gaza Strip. World leaders have pledged $3.5 billion to rebuild Gaza, but Israeli restrictions on the entry of building material are costing reconstruction efforts incalculable delays. Not one of the 19,000 homes destroyed in Gaza has been rebuilt in the last year. As concerned citizens, we urge you to take action to press for an end to these restrictions now. (Avaaz.)
So far over 538,000 have signed this petition.

Considering how desperate so many of the people of Gaza are because of this blockade how dare PCG have minimized the severity of this blockade to their readers.
The Gaza embargo, keep in mind, never prevented humanitarian aid from reaching Palestinians—only weapons from falling into the hands of the genocidal government that controls Gaza. That is why Israel demanded the “freedom flotilla” to dock at an Israeli port—so shipments could be offloaded, inspected and then delivered to the people of Gaza.

But by demanding that the coastal blockade be lifted, the international community is basically saying Israel has no right to inspect shipments intended to re-supply Hamas—an untenable arrangement from Israel’s perspective, if ever there was one. (Stephen Flurry, Israel the Outcast, August 2010.)
But, according to this petition by Avaaz, the blockade blocks access to construction materials. How can the people of Gaza be expected to be happy when the blockade prevents them from rebuilding their homes and their schools?

PCG's Misinformation About the Blockade

How unfortunate it is that PCG has, unintentionally or intentionally, misinformed their readers on this matter.

Back in 2010, shortly after the infamous mass killing that occurred on the Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010 in which ten Turkish men died (one was rendered comatose and died four years later), the State of Israel lessened the blockade at the time. PCG presented this move as though the blockade had ended.
Israel has given in to Hamas and effectively ended the blockade of the Gaza Strip. On Sunday, Israel announced it will now allow anything into Hamas-controlled Gaza as long as it cannot be used for military purposes. An official in the Prime Minister’s Office said that the land blockade, which had been in place since September 2007, had been aimed at weakening Hamas and gaining the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The lack of progress on both counts, he explained, is what is behind the change in policy. (The Week in Review, June 25, 2010.)
Just a few days before making this sensationalist statement PCG noted in another article that the blockade by sea would be maintained.
Responding to the international uproar over the incident, Israel’s security cabinet voted Thursday to expand the range of goods allowed into Gaza via land, while maintaining the sea blockade. (The Week in Review, June 18, 2010.)
PCG completely failed to foresee that the blockade would still be in force five years later. This shows PCG's tendency towards sensationalism that so often may give one a slanted perspective on issues.

In 2012 following an incident in which a ship was prevented from breaking the blockade by Israel PCG states that the blockade is in force.
The incident is the latest in a series of deliberate provocations aimed at denouncing Israel’s blockade of Gaza. The blockade has been in effect since 2007, when Israel instituted the blockade to prevent the smuggling of weapons into the region after Hamas gained control of it. Since then, a number of flotillas have sailed for Gaza under the auspice of providing aid to the region. One such expedition made international news in 2010 when Israeli troops were attacked while boarding a flotilla from Turkey, resulting in the death of nine Turkish activists. (Israel Seizes Gaza-Bound Ship, October 22, 2012.)
One of those Turkish men who died that night was an American citizen.

How unfortunate it is that PCG has, unintentionally or not, misled their readers on this matter thus obscuring the severity of the blockade and misinforming people.

The Blockade is Bad for Israel (and Everyone Else)

It would be good for the blockade to be ended. Not everyone in Gaza is of Hamas. Why punish them for what Hamas does?

Some of the Palestinians of Gaza happen to be Christians. Not many. Palestinian Christians tend to live in the West Bank but there are still some Palestinian Christians in Gaza. They also live behind the blockade. 

This blockade politically polarizes the situation making that much harder to find common ground to create an agreement.

Also the blockade is bad for the State of Israel. The blockade incentivizes Hamas to be desperate and do anything to try and end it. The blockade and the hostile relations between the State of Israel and Hamas helped contribute to the tragic wars that occurred in 2008-9, 2012 and 2014.

Furthermore the blockade hampers the ability of the people of Gaza to find good employment and make a living. Currently Gaza has the highest unemployment rate in the world, 43 percent. This is partly caused by the blockade. The following information from the World Bank is worth considering in this matter.
The report estimates that Gaza’s GDP would have been about four times higher than it currently is if it weren’t for the conflicts and the multiple restrictions. It also states that the blockade in place since 2007 has shaved around 50 percent off Gaza’s GDP.  Unemployment in Gaza is the highest in the world at 43 percent. Even more alarming is the situation of youth unemployment which soared to more than 60 percent by the end of 2014. (Gaza Economy on the Verge of Collapse, Youth Unemployment Highest in the Region at 60 Percent, The World Bank, May 21, 2015.)
What are those unemployed people supposed to do?

What if some recruiter approaches such a person who is struggling to make a living and ask him to join an armed group?

What if such an unemployed person is asked to help build a tunnel, quite likely under dangerous conditions?

So long as the blockade is in force such people desperate for employment will see little choice but to pursue such risky options. Such dangerous options seem much more attractive to those unemployed behind the blockade struggling to find work.

Those behind the blockade have all the time in the world to build their tunnels, either to Egypt to get supplies, or into Israel to prepare for the next round of war, since there is so little employment available in Gaza, partly because of the blockade.

The blockade may have had the effect of strengthening Hamas' rule in Gaza. With so many unemployed and desperate for work if Hamas presented an employment opportunity to people how could anyone refuse such an offer while facing such desperate circumstances?

This blockade, and the subsequent reduction of employment choices for the people of Gaza, fuels conflict and makes a future war practically a certainty. That is a terrible fact. It is to be dearly hoped that someone will prevent such a frightful thing from happening.

In last year's war in Gaza many Israeli soldiers went into Gaza to try and blow up tunnels that headed into Israel. Some Israeli soldiers died doing this. And what has happened? The war ended. Hamas is still in power. The blockade is still in force. Consequently many of the people of Gaza are still unemployed and desperate for employment. What alternative is there for the people of Gaza to prevent them from rebuilding those tunnels? So long as the blockade is in force those behind have all the time in the world to rebuild those tunnels. What else are they going to do?

The blockade is bad for everyone. It is bad for the Palestinians of Gaza. It is bad for the State of Israel because the blockade fuels the conflict. It is bad for everyone.

If the blockade is lifted other, more humane options to manage this terrible conflict will then be available.

The blockade, now in its ninth year, has clearly failed to depose Hamas. Is the blockade supposed to unseat Hamas after ten years? Why expect that after the blockade failed has to do this after nine years?

The blockade clearly is not helping to unseat Hamas in Gaza. Why not try something else and move away from a policy that has clearly failed?

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