America’s Complicity In Gaza’s Humanitarian Crisis


Posted by Bob Lord

Americans have a depressing ability to collectively fool themselves. The situation in Gaza is a disgusting example of that. The mainstream American media describes the actions of Israel as Israel "defending itself." So, Americans watch as Gazans, forced to live in squalor for by their Israeli subjugators, are bombed into oblivion. And they think "it's ok," becasue Israel must defend itself. Even their President says it's ok.

No, it's not ok. And it's deplorable that America, by blindly supporting Israel at every turn, is allowing a humanitarian crisis to continue in perpetuity.

Anyone with even the most basic analytical skills and a grain of common sense would realize that could not possibly be the case. With just a little digging, the ugly truth comes to light. There is no shortage of coverage on the subject, as long as you're willing to (1) move past television as your information source and (2) read beyond the mainstream newspapers and weeklies. But you don't have to go far. Salon has covered it well, as has Truthdig.

The starting point is Gaza's geography and population. It is a strip of land 139 square miles in size, roughly 7 miles wide and 20 miles long. Over 1.5 million Palestinians live there. Do the math. That's  over 10,000 humans per square mile. Israel controls al but seven miles of Gaza's border, including Gaza's coastline.

Effectively, Israel has made Gaza a prison. People are permitted to cross the border into Egypt at one border crossing, but the tiny strip otherwise is sealed. For five years, Israel has maintained a naval blockade along Gaza's shoreline. Israel limits the flow of goods at the land crossings and by sea. Palestinian fishermen must remain with three miles of Gaza's coast. Much of Gaza's commerce with the outside world must take place through tunnels at the Egyptian border.

And the flow of goods, including food, into Gaza are not sufficient to sustain everyday life. Over half of Gaza's children suffer from malnutrition. Malnutrition robs a child of his or her potential, as the brain of a malnourished child never fully develops. By all appearances, Israel knowingly inflicted this atrocity on Gaza's children. In a recent piece in Salon entitled Israel Calculated Calories for Gazans, Natasha Leonard reported:

Following a long legal battle from Israel-based Palestinian rights group Gisha, a court forced the Ministry of Defense to release the 2008 document, “Food Consumption in the Gaza Strip – The Red Lines.”

The BBC reported that, according to the U.N., if the calorie study “reflected a policy intended to cap food imports, it went against humanitarian principles.” Despite the timing of the study and its ostensible relevance to blockade policy, “the Israeli government said the study was only ever a draft and was never used to determine policy,” reported the BBC. A military spokesperson insisted that the study was simply created to identify food needs and avoid a humanitarian disaster.

Gisha argued, however, that despite the food consumption study recommending 106 lorryloads be allowed into Gaza everyday to provide a healthy amount of food, when the blockade tightened only an average of 67 lorryloads were allowed into the besieged region.

Effectively, Israel has trapped 1.5 million people on a tiny strip of land, crushed their economy, and, for five years, has been slowly starving them.

Unfortunately, Israel, AIPAC, and their friends in the American media have bamboozled Americans into believing an alternative reality exists in Gaza. The first component of that alternative reality is that Hamas, which has perhaps 10,000 members, is Gaza. Each and every one of the 1.5 million residents of Gaza is tied to Hamas in the picture Israel has painted for the dimwitted American public. Thus, Americans don't bother to step back and question Israel's collective punishment of an entire population. Those starving, malnourished Palestinian kids? Perfectly justified, because some of the members of Hamas are bad guys. 

The second component of Israel's alternative reality is that any Gazan who rises up against the Israeli oppressors is a member of Hamas. Obviously, that can't be the case. If you condemn 1.5 million people to an open air prison and force them to live in squalor, it's a safe bet many resistance groups will rise up. 

Once Israel and its US allies have succeeded in these sleights of hand on an all too gullible American public, it is almost certain that events will unfold (or can be reported to have unfolded) such that Israel appears to be "defending itself." Take for example the possible lead-up to Israel's current hammering of Gaza. A random Gazan resistance fighter, not affiliated with Hamas, fires a rocket into Israel. Israel responds by assassinating a leader of Hamas (and murdering a few Palestinian children in the process). Hamas than retaliates with rocket fire for what, from its perspective, was an unprovoked attack. Israel then "defends itself" by bombing the crap out of ordinary Palestinians. 

Of course, there's a simpler rubric for understanding situations like the one that exists in Gaza. In a struggle between an oppressed people and their oppressors, the oppressors tend not to be the good guys. If you find yourself in an Orwellian world where you're told the oppressors indeed are the good guys, do your own research.