The current squeeze on Gaza began in 1991.
- It was tightened with the institutionalization of the Israeli occupation enabled by the Oslo Accords of 1993.
- It was tightened further with the intensification of the occupation in response to the second intifada in 2000.
- It was tightened further still when Israel redeployed its settlers and troops from inside Gaza in 2005 and
- transformed the territory into what John Dugard, the UN's special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied territories, referred to as a prison, the key to which, Dugard said, Israel had "thrown away."
- It was tightened to the point of strangulation following the Hamas electoral victory in 2006, when Israel began restricting supplies of food and other resources into Gaza.
- It was tightened beyond the point of strangulation following the deposition of the Hamas-led government in June 2007. And now this.
When Israel limited commercial shipments of food--but not humanitarian relief--into Gaza in 2006, a senior government adviser, *Dov Weisglass, explained that "the idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet but not to make them die of hunger."
Israel's "diet" was taking its toll even before last week. The World Food Program warned last November that less than half of Gaza's food-import needs were being met. Basics including wheat grain, vegetable oil, dairy products and baby milk were in short supply. Few families can afford meat. Anemia rates rocketed to almost 80 percent. UNRWA noted at about the same time that "we are seeing evidence of the stunting of children, their growth is slowing, because our ration is only 61 percent of what people should have and that has to be supplemented."
By further restricting the supply of food to an already malnourished population, Israel has clearly decided to take its "diet" a step further. If the people of Gaza remain cut off from the food aid on which their survival now depends, they will face starvation.
They are now
- essentially out of food;
- the water system is faltering (almost half the population now lacks access to safe water supplies);
- the sewage system has broken down and is discharging raw waste into streets and the sea;
- the power supply is intermittent at best; hospitals lack heat and spare parts for diagnostic machines, ventilators, incubators; dozens of lifesaving medicines are no longer available.
*WASHINGTON - JULY 29: U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell (R) laughs as he jokes around with (L-R) Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Danny Ayalon, U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Bureau Chief to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Dov Weisglass, prior to attending a media conference with U.S. President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the Rose Garden of the White House July 29, 2003 in Washington, DC. Prime Minister Sharon is on an official visit to Washington to discuss the Middle East peace process with President Bush.
Finklestein Weisglass debate