End the siege of Gaza
Boycott the Israeli occupiers, not their Palestinian victims.
“This is the first time an occupied people has been subjected to economic sanctions.… Israel is in violation of countless UN resolutions and refuses to comply with the Opinion of the International Court of Justice. The Quartet has taken no action against Israel but has imposed economic sanctions on the Palestinian people.” - UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories John Dugard, July 5, 2006
Palestinians in Gaza are experiencing an unprecedented crisis, triggered by US/Israeli-imposed siege, sanctions, and efforts to create a civil war. The siege on Gaza is another example of the US/Israeli effort to reshape the region and install friendly regimes by promoting war, civil strife and economic blackmail.
ISRAEL’S SIEGE OF GAZA: “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not make them die of hunger.” Dov Weisglass, senior advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Prime Minister Olmert, January 2006.
Gaza remains under Israeli military occupation. Israel controls Gaza’s land borders, airspace and sea coast, and frequently blocks movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza.
Israel began cutting Gaza off from the world in 1991, and intensified the closure at the beginning of the uprising in September 2000. With the election of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority (PA) in January 2006, Israel tightened the siege, refused to turn over $600 million in customs revenue, and was joined by the US and other governments who cut off aid to the PA.
Humanitarian impact of the siege: By the end of 2006, 75% of Gazan households were living below the poverty line, and 35% of Gazans were unemployed. By mid-2006, 53% were unable to afford a balanced meal. (World Bank/IMF, World Food Program/FAO, March 2007)
Economic impact of the siege: “Average real per capita GDP in the Occupied Territories in 2006 [was] almost 40% below 1999.” “Given the unprecedented level of closure affecting Gaza since January 2006, as well as the economic decline resulting from the withholding of tax revenue and donor assistance, Palestinian exports have declined to their lowest rate since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1994.” (World Bank/IMF, March 2007)
Historical context of the siege: “By the time the second intifada broke out, Israel’s closure policy had been in force for seven years, leading to unprecedented levels of unemployment and poverty (which would soon be surpassed). Yet the policy proved so destructive only because the 30-year process of integrating Gaza’s economy into Israel’s had made [it] deeply dependent. When the border was closed in 1993, self-sustainment was no longer possible… Decades of expropriation and deinstitutionalisation had robbed Palestine of its potential for development, ensuring no viable economic (and hence political) structure could emerge.” - Harvard University economic historian Sara Roy, November 2005.
Impact of Recent Closures: “The World Bank said the prolonged closure of border crossings could lead to ‘irreversible’ economic collapse... Israel has largely closed the Karni crossing, Gaza’s economic lifeline. Egypt has also kept shut Gaza’s Sinai crossing since mid-June… On July 9 the UNRWA announced a halt to all building projects in Gaza because it has run out of construction supplies. The halt [is] to about $93 million of projects employing 121,000 people, includes schools, water works, health centers and sewage-treatment plants. Agency officials say they are rapidly running down their reserves of food and other supplies.
“Factories and businesses are running out of materials. A report by Gisha (Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, an Israeli group) said up to 75% of the factories in Gaza on the eve of Karni’s closure have had to cease production, forcing as many as 30,000 more families to rely on aid to survive. “At current levels the assistance is a stopgap solution. UNRWA has been drawing on reserves, but in less than six weeks, ‘the stocks will be running out.’” - New York Times, July 10, 2007
Promoting Palestinian Civil War: Israel and the US have created a desperate situation in Gaza ripe for civil conflict, and have supplied Fatah with weapons and training and pushed Fatah to launch an attack on Hamas, despite Hamas’ victory in 2006 elections. A primary architect of those policies has been US Deputy National Security Advisor Elliot Abrams, convicted of lying about similar efforts in the 1980s Iran-Contra affair.
“Palestinians are killing each other, as expected at the end of the experiment called ‘what happens when you imprison 1.3 million human beings in an enclosed space.’ These are the steps: Imprison; remove means of livelihood; seal off outlets to the outside world; prevent entry of raw materials and marketing of goods and produce; prevent entry of medicines and hospital supplies; do not bring in fresh food for weeks on end; prevent for years entry of relatives, professionals, friends and others, and allow thousands - the sick, heads of families, professionals, children - to be stuck for weeks at the locked gates of Gaza’s only entry/exit.” - Israeli journalist Amira Hass, Haaretz, January 23, 2007
The Role of the US: Starving Palestinians and Promoting Violence: “As for the mood of Congress, which had been asked to provide millions to help the Presidential Guard with training and to rebuild the Palestinian side of Karni, Rep. Steven Israel (Dem.-NY) said: ‘There is no appetite to fund Karni, no interest.’ Mr. Israel quoted a senior Israeli official who told him, ‘Let’s see how Hamas feeds its children now.’
Elliot Abrams greeted a group of Palestinian businessmen in DC in early 2006 “with talk of a ‘hard coup’ against the Hamas government — the violent overthrow of their leadership with arms supplied by the US… Abrams was adamant — the U.S. had to support Fatah with guns, ammunition and training... The supplies of rifles and ammunition has become a torrent.” - Alistair Crook, former British government official who served in Jerusalem
“The US pushed for a confrontation between Fatah and Hamas… the US envoy declared twice in an envoys’ meeting in Washington how much “I like this violence,” referring to the near-civil war in Gaza in which civilians were being killed and injured, because “it means other Palestinians are resisting Hamas.” - Alvara de Soto, former UN Envoy to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, in his leaked end-of-mission report in June 2007.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
SUPPORT BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS (BDS) AGAINST ISRAEL TO HELP GAZA: BDS is an effective, nonviolent and morally consistent strategy for promoting human rights. Learn more about BDS at http://www.pacbi.org, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
DONATE TO HELP GAZA:
Middle East Children’s Alliance, 901 Parker Street, Berkeley, CA, 94710; www.mecaforpeace.org/. Make check out to Middle East Children’s Alliance. To give for medical supplies write “Gaza medicine” in the memo line. To give to Palestinian organizations in Gaza write “Gaza Projects” in the memo line. (tax deductible in the US)
Gaza Community Mental Health Program. Send check c/o Nancy Murray, Gaza Mental Health Foundation Inc., PO Box 495, Boston, MA 02112; http://www.gcmhp.net/ (tax deductible in the US)
The Palestine Red Crescent Society; http://www.palestinercs.org/modules/cjaycontent/index.php?id=7. Mail contributions to PRCS via Medical Aid for Palestine: MAP-Canada, 5722 St-Andre Street, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2S 2K1. Make checks payable to MAP, and insert a note: “for PRCS Emergency Situation Fund.” For more info, http://www.mapcan.org, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rachel Corrie Rebuilding Campaign: Help rebuild the home of physiotherapist Ali Al Bahry and his family which was demolished by the Israeli army in September of 2004. For info visit: http://www.globalgiving.com/pr/1600/proj1596a.html