Friday, December 03, 2010

The Collective Punishment of Gaza

At Informed Comment, Juan Cole writes that the Israeli actions in Gaza do not fall under the rubric of a “policy” for, presumably, a public policy in a would-be democratic State is by definition is capable of a corresponding public justification that conforms at least to minimalist conceptions of what it means to be reasonable and Liberal canons of rationality. But the Israeli blockade and collective punishment of Gaza “is not a policy. Policies are rational, have bounds, have attainable goals. What has the blockade accomplished? When will it end? How can it be justified given it breaks about ten major international laws? How can it be justified given that it is contrary to everything in Jewish ethics (would Israelis like to have their children blockaded that way, is the question Rabbi Hillel would ask). It is not a policy. It is a piece of sadism on a mass scale.”

Gisha, an Israeli nonprofit organization “whose goal is to protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents,” while “promot[ing] rights guaranteed by international and Israeli law,” has acquired documents from the government that spell out the terms and conditions of the blockade, including a “policy of deliberate reduction” of basic goods. Furthermore, as Cole explains,

“There has been no significant easing of the blockade. Virtually no goods made by Palestinians in Gaza may be exported abroad, by Israeli fiat. As military occupier, Israel controls Gaza’s shore, its waters, and bombed its airport into smithereens. Two-thirds of Palestinian businesses have been shuttered by the baleful Israeli siege since 2007. Those that remain function at much reduced capacity, often denied the raw materials they need to produce made goods. [….]

None of the justifications typically given for the blockade hold water in international law. That Hamas was voted into power in the January 2006 elections sponsored by the Bush and Olmert administrations is no reason to deny a small child permission to leave Gaza for medical treatment (1/5 of Gazans’ application to leave for medical treatment are much delayed or denied by Israeli authorities). Not letting Palestinians make clothing for export is an illegal policy in the law. Only directly military goods may be blockaded.

What is truly disgusting is not only that the Israelis pursue this beastly policy toward Palestinian children and other civilians. It is that the major world powers are complicit in it. If the United Nations Security Council amounted to anything, it would order (and I mean order) the Israelis to desist. [….]

People who don’t think massive long-term sadism toward a million and a half people will cause trouble for the perpetrators are adopting an ostrich policy. Gaza’s conditions are on Arabic satellite TV daily. Nothing can be hidden.”

And so, as Cole informs us, and as reported in The Guardian, sixteen international aid and human rights organizations have called for an end to this “cruel” embargo and blockade.
[cross-posted at]


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