MAUREEN CLARE MURPHY | 23 DECEMBER, 2014
Palestinians walk past the rubble of houses in Gaza City’s Shujaiya neighborhood which were destroye
THE ELECTRONIC INTIFADA: After Israeli warplanes bombed Gaza on Friday, the BBC described the air strike on “a Hamas facility” as “the first such action since the declaration of a truce in August.”
The short BBC News item, essentially a repackaged Israeli army press statement, added that the strike was “in response” to a rocket fired earlier from Gaza.
The casual reader would understand this to mean that Israel has held its fire since the August ceasefire which ended the intensive bombing this summer that claimed more than 2,200 Palestinian lives.
However, the reality is that Israel has fired on Palestinians in Gaza nearly every daysince the 26 August truce.
Meanwhile, Israel and Egypt have kept Gaza totally sealed and its 1.8 million inhabitants effectively imprisoned.
One of the main Palestinian conditions for a ceasefire was the lifting of the years-long siege that has all but obliterated Gaza’s economy, and which has had a deleterious impact on nearly all aspects of life there.
During the 51 days of Israeli bombing this summer, the unanimous cry from Gaza was not just for the ending of the genocidal violence. A return to the status quo of slow suffocation under siege and complete impunity for Israel’s constant violations of Palestinian rights was not tenable. Gaza’s staggering sacrifice — more than one in every thousand of its residents killed — required the fulfillment of basic rights.
“A ceasefire is not enough,” wrote the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights’ Raji Sourani during the height of Israel’s violence.
Palestinians attempt to enter Egypt at Rafah Crossing on 21 December. (Ashraf Amra / APA images)
The August ceasefire deal brokered by siege-enforcing Egypt, while never made transparent to the public, reportedly called for the opening of Gaza’s crossings, allowing the entry of reconstruction materials needed to rebuild Gaza’s devastated neighborhoods, the extension of the permitted fishing areas off Gaza’s shore and the relaxation of access restrictions in the areas along Gaza’s perimeter fence with Israel.
These truce conditions are similar to those that ended twelve days of Israeli bombing — claiming hundreds of Palestinian lives in Gaza — in November 2012.
Palestinians carry a protester wounded by Israeli fire during a demonstration in the northern Gaza Strip on 5 December. (Khaled al-Sabbah / APA images)
Like its relentless violations of that earlier ceasefire, Israel has violated the August agreement with total impunity.
Here is a brief breakdown:
A Palestinian harvests flowers at his farm in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on 20 December. Farmers have largely stopped planting flowers due to Israel’s closure of Gaza’s commercial crossings. (Abed Rahim Khatib / APA images)
Not only is the pre-ceasefire status quo of Israeli siege still firmly in place, but the secret terms of the United Nations-backed Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism “include onerous controls of building supplies and intrusive monitoring of Palestinian families seeking to rebuild homes destroyed by Israel,” as The Electronic Intifada has previously reported:
The mechanism gives Israeli occupation authorities access to Palestinian families’ personal information on UN databases, effectively turning the UN into the enforcer and partner of Israel’s Gaza siege.
The deal, brokered and championed by UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry, capitulated ultimate control of reconstruction to Israel while doing nothing for people in Gaza.
Instead of easing its grip since August, Israel finds that it enjoys more control over Palestinians in Gaza than ever before.
But none of this has made international news headlines, which largely seem to regurgitate Israeli government press briefings.
Palestinian traders protest against the Gaza reconstruction mechanism’s distribution of cement at the Kerem Shalom crossing in Rafah, the southern Gaza Strip, on 17 December. (Abed Rahim Khatib / APA images)
One notable exception is Newsweek’s recent cover story which comprehensively lays out the horror to which Gaza has been subjected — from the erasure of almost one hundred Palestinian families in Israeli air strikes this summer to the practical and moral failure of what has become known as the “menacing mechanism” for reconstruction.
The daily violence Israel wreaks on forsaken Gaza has gone otherwise unreported — and when there is a brief news item on Israeli air strikes on Gaza, it is Israel which “responds” to Palestinian rocket fire. Never is rocket fire from Gaza presented as a “response” to Israel’s routine violation of Palestinians’ most basic rights.
(INTER PRESS SERVICE)