Judy Mandelbaum

Judy Mandelbaum
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APRIL 4, 2010 1:20PM

Israel loosens Gaza blockade a notch

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  Gaza Strip

Today the Israeli government permitted ten truckloads of clothing and shoes into the Gaza Strip, representing a slight loosening of the near total blockade it placed on the area in June, 2007. But for the 1.5 million Palestinians residing there, this concession will likely feel like little more than a single drop of cool water raining in the middle of the desert.

Israel imposed the blockade as a response to the Hamas electoral victory in 2006 and repeated rocket attacks from Gaza in 2007. Supported by Egypt, and with the blessings of the United States, it has led to a virtually complete isolation of the region by land, air, and sea. Fuel and electricity supplies have been cut, trade and industry have been paralyzed, and the vital Gaza fishing industry has been brought to near collapse.

Implementation is arbitrary and no official list of prohibited elements has ever been presented. “Trucks are checked, unloaded, and reloaded several times over the course of days, raising shipping costs,” the Christian Science Monitor reported last year. “In recent months, all of the following items have been rejected at one point, and later allowed in only after it became an embarrassing international issue: pasta; lentils; strawberry jam; chocolate; and halvah, a Middle Eastern sweet made of sesame. A shipment of ‘reinforced nutritional bars’ were turned back because low-level military officials misunderstood the manifest and thought they were steel bars, which – like other building materials – are not allowed into Gaza.” Tin cans for canning local produce are also banned, since they can be melted down and used to make rockets. The embargo also includes school books, pens and pencils, and also clothing and shoes.

This “catching flies with vinegar” policy has been spectacularly unsuccessful – assuming that it is intended to lead to some sort of sustainable solution to the underlying problem. After absorbing hundreds of rockets in 2008, the IDF launched a twenty-two-day incursion into Gaza in the run-up to President Barak Obama’s inauguration in January 2009. The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem has calculated that 1,387 Palestinians were killed. More than half of them were civilians and 252 were children. Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, died in the operation.

Numerous government and aid groups from around the world have accused Israel of imposing “collective punishment” on the people of the Gaza Strip, which the Israeli government regards as a “hostile entity.” Most notably the UN’s Goldstone Report stated that Israeli action

was directed at the people of Gaza as a whole, in furtherance of an overall and continuing policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population, and in a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed at the civilian population. The destruction of food supply installations, water sanitation systems, concrete factories and residential houses was the result of a deliberate and systematic policy which has made the daily process of living, and dignified living, more difficult for the civilian population.


The Report states that Israeli acts that deprive Palestinians in the Gaza Strip of their means of subsistence, employment, housing and water, that deny their freedom of movement and their right to leave and enter their own country, that limit their rights to access a court of law and an effective remedy, could lead a competent court to find that the crime of persecution, a crime against humanity, has been committed.

And so it goes. More than twenty new rockets from Gaza have landed on Israeli territory over the past month. Last week, three Israeli soldiers were killed by Hamas fighters near the Gaza town of Khan Younis. On Friday, the IDF responded with thirteen air strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza, injuring three children.

Author tags:

gaza, embargo, blockade, palestine, israel

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Comments

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As bad as this is, why does the UN never prepare reports and issue sanctions against attacks on Israel? And why does no one highlight the known, common terrorist tactic of housing guns, bomb factories and wanted criminals/leaders in schools, apartment houses and specifically civilian communities? It's no accident, it's a deliberate willingness to martyr their own to further their cause. A lot of blame to be shared by both sides. As usual.
I'm really sick of the way the US supports Israel no matter how badly they behave.
Good article! Collective punishment of the captive population of Gaza by Israel is illegal under international law. Israel has a right to defend itself, but that does not mean they have a right to use force when other options have not been exhausted. Namely ending the siege on Gaza, the blockade of the necessities of life, end the occupation and the land grab. As an occupied population, Palestinians do have a right to resist.

Your last paragraph ignores the violence that has been committed by Israeli's recently including the murder of a Palestinian teen during a protest. Also, in the violence that killed IDF, Palestinians were also killed.

I do take issue with your characterization of the lead up to the 2008 attacks on Gaza. Prior to Israel's 22 day attack, there had been a truce that was broken on November 4th when Israeli tanks and bulldozers moved in to Gaza to destroy tunnels, resulting in the deaths of 6 Palestinians and the violence escalated from there.

Sally Swift - Why does the UN never issue sanctions against Israel for its attacks? The UN Goldstone Report did address war crimes committed by both Israel and Hamas. However, it was weighted against Israel because Israel committed the vast majority of the war crimes. As far as your reference to so called terrorist tactics. Let's say for argument sake Hamas does do as you say. Does that give Israel the right to drop bombs on schools, hospitals, factories, and homes of civilians? The blame is not equal on both sides. The majority of the blame is on the side of the occupier.
Hi, Judy! It's a good day today, I think, to ask for world Peace in whatever way we each do. I, too, feel the blow against humanity in reports such as yours. Banning schoolbooks and school supplies, along with other necessities? Whatever can we people be thinking...

When we realize that we really are One people, however we'd like to see ourselves as always more alike than different, we will no longer do things like this... None of us.

Thanks for your good work, as always! Yours is a voice we need -- and that will help bring change for a better future! Love & Peace, Julie
*Julie Shanti: "When we realize that we really are One people, however we'd like to see ourselves as always more alike than different, we will no longer do things like this." That is a utophian dream I wonder if we will see in our lifetimes, I certainly hope so.

Thank you Judy for your work and tireless efforts. God protect you.
Rated.