Fleets to an open-air prison camp: To Gaza!

The siege on Gaza enters its fourth year this year. The consequences have been catastrophic, but the images of this catastrophe are for the most part kept away from the world and its media.

With Israel controlling all borders, the only lifelines available to Gazans have been a maze of underground tunnels along the border with Egypt. This forced black-market has claimed lives and is being continually challenged by Israeli bombings and Egyptian reinforcement of the border with an underground steel wall.

For the needs of Gaza’s 1.5 million people to be met, there needs to be 1,300 containers of merchandise and foods passing across the Karni Crossing every day. The supplies that do manage to pass fail to meet even 20 pert cents of the populations’ needs. The result has been 80 per cent poverty, dependency on aid for even their daily meals and hundreds of deaths from lack of medical equipment and supplies.

Governments around the world have taken a number of different positions where the Gaza siege is concerned. Many are indifferent, few challenge Israel and some are complicit, such as Egypt and the USA. The result has been an abysmal failure to confront the legality of such a blockade and a lack of accountability for the hundreds of Palestinians who have died as a result of it.

As planned by Israeli politicians, Gazans have been put on a grotesquely expressed lean ‘diet’ that is threatening the health of entire generations. This is the background to the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ and all initiatives like it.

Challenging Israel

Since the siege on Gaza began, many around the world vowed to challenge and break it. This came in the form of convoys of hundreds of vehicles amassing on the Gaza/Egypt border; boats sailing into the Gaza seas; and millions of dollars in aid being sent for the people on the ground.

However, Israel has remained determined to ensure that Gazans are subject to nothing but misery in their daily lives in repayment for electing a Hamas government and so called retaliation to rockets.

Never mind the fact that the blockade has been accompanied by near constant attacks from the Israeli army and navy, which totally eclipse any home made rockets from Gaza. The death toll speaks for itself, with four civilian deaths on the Israeli side and over 2,000 on the Gaza side since June 2007.

This is not a just conflict between Israel and Gaza, it is an annihilation of one group of ill-equipped people by one of the mightiest armies in the world.

An open-air prison camp where people die from treatable illnesses and suffer malnutrition while living besides openly running sewage – this is Gaza’s reality, and it is man-made by Israel.

Ismail Patel


The author is founder and Chair of Friends of Al-Aqsa, a UK based NGO. He is also the Director of IslamExpo and Youelect. He has published several books and his work on the Palestinian issue is published extensively in the English media.



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