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Israeli Siege of Gaza Resulting in Huge Humanitarian Crisis
Electricity Cuts Spell Impending Humanitarian Disaster, Gazans Cannot Even Properly Bury Their Dead

Mohammed Omer, BBSNews

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Sunday, November 25 2007

By Israel plans to greatly reduce the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip beginning December 2, according to Jamal Al Dardasawi, spokesman of The Palestinian Electricity Company. Although Israel has given advance notice of its plans, this pre-punishment time will do nothing to alleviate the catastrophic consequences which will ensue, given that borders and firmly shut and Gazans will have no way to prepare and compensate for this vital loss.

The announcement of Israel's latest collective punishment of Gazans comes despite denunciations and vocal outcry from Palestinian and international human rights groups recognizing as collective punishment the policy of cutting back utilities to Gaza.

The Gaza Strip is facing increasing hardships as a result of Israel's closure of Gazan borders and the consequent near-complete shutting down of Gaza's economy since last June. Several weeks ago Israel began cutting back on fuel supplies, but planned electricity reductions were delayed by an order from Israel's attorney general, who expressed concerns about humanitarian harm.

Irrational Rationalizations

Initially, Israeli officials rationalized the utilities cutbacks as a way of persuading the Palestinian population to pressure Palestinian militants to stop firing rockets at southern Israel. Following an uproar over the prospect of further harming the already poverty stricken Gaza population, Israel said the cutbacks were part of its disengagement from Gaza, when Israel withdrew its troops and dismantled all Jewish settlements in the summer of 2005. Yet, this explanation holds little veracity, as Israel continues to militarily occupy the Gaza Strip with its near-daily invasions and killings all over the Strip.

Israeli human rights group, Gisha, projected that electricity cuts would "cause certain and serious harm to the health and well-being of Gaza residents." Sari Bashi, Executive Director of Gisha, said there was "no physical way to reduce electricity supplies to Gaza without forcing power outages for hospitals, clinics, water wells, sewage treatment plants and schools."

Al Dardasawi reported that "Gaza depends by 65% on Israel's electricity. The rest comes from fuel, which also comes through Israel." He stated that this will cause enormous harm to Palestinians, and will greatly affect their daily life, in terms of cooking, refrigeration, not to mention the running of hospitals.

A mother of 6 children, Asma Talal said she was concerned about this shortage of electricity: "What are we going to do, live with no refrigerators to keep our food? And how is a house going to function with no electricity?" she asked. "This makes people more violent and doesn't bring peace, not to Palestinians and not to Israelis," she added.

Even the Dead

Israel's siege is not only creating a living Hell for the 1.4 million living in the Gaza Strip: the dead are also affected. In addition to the very vital food and medical supplies which Israel is preventing from entering Gaza, cement and building materials are also being denied entry. As a result, those who die, an increasing number of who are killed by invading Israeli forces or border closures, will have no burial place. Without the cement for graves, it isn't possible to adequately construct gravesites.

More than ever, this makes Gazans wonder, how and when is this siege going to end, if we don't even have cement to build graves to bury our dead, casualties of this international siege on us? Is there any humanity left, when the world only remains glaringly silent on starving and killing Gaza in every way possible? Our basic needs have been starved. Our education is being rendered impossible, here and abroad. Our dead have no peace. And why? Only because the people have voted for Hamas, a political party whose participation in the 2006 elections was not largely contested until after their successful and transparent election?

Yesterday, Palestinian farmers went to the streets, throwing out flowers and strawberries, goods which Israel is not permitting to move beyond heavily locked-down borders. With these borders still closed after so many months, farmers instead gave flowers to feed the cows, camels and sheep.

Thus, the siege has also hugely affected the Palestinian farmers who depend on and wait for the flower and strawberries season to export their goods to European markets. The loss is substantial, estimated at millions of dollars, as Gaza normally exports 60 million flowers each year. This time, instead of generating a much-needed income for the economically and basic foodstuff-starved Gazans, flowers, trampled and useless, were thrown to animals for nourishment. In the end, the animals came out better than we Gazans.

Today, Israeli troops killed two Palestinian farmers near the fence on the Gaza Strip's northern border with Israel, Palestinian hospital officials said today. Both of them are brothers and in their early 40s. The farmers were working in their land, and other fisherman was injured and in critical conditions at Gaza's based hospital.

Mohammed Omer is a young journalist/photographer in the Gaza Strip. He and his family have a very rough time in living day to day and they have lost much. In October of 2003, one of Mohammed's younger bothers, Issam, was injured and had to have a leg amputated. Later in the same month another younger brother, Hussam Al-Mouhagir, was killed in his home; shot to death by the Israeli Army that occupies and regularly devastates Palestine. These stories are written by Mohammed who knows no peace, only the continued devastation forced upon civilians who have little voice in the world. Mohammed has covered the Occupied Territories for several years. In 2006 Mohammed won the New American Media National Ethnic Media Award for best Youth Voice. On May 18th, 2007, Mohammed was shot at by unknown militants in Gaza yet he continues to report. Visit Mohammed's Web site, or write to him to get a more complete picture of what is really happening that main-stream news sources rarely brings to its audience. We are proud to feature articles from Mohammed Omer here at BBSNews, his reporting is some of the only original, on the ground reporting available from the Israeli Occupied Territories.


:: Article nr. 38602 sent on 26-nov-2007 06:51 ECT

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Link: bbsnews.net/article.php/20071125115718577



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