WATCH: Ali Abunimah, UNRWA’s Chris Gunness and Jerusalem Post’s Yaacov Katz debate Gaza flotilla

Israel’s propaganda war against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla heats up. The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah appeared on Russia Today’s Crosstalk with Chris Gunness, spokesman for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, and Yaakov Katz of The Jerusalem Post.

During the lively debate, Gunness countered Israeli claims that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, stating:

Let’s look at the basic humanitarian facts on the ground. Ninety five percent of water in Gaza is undrinkable. Forty percent of disease is waterborne, it’s caused by poor water. 45.2 percent of the labor force is unemployed. Eighty percent aid dependency. A tripling of the abject poor since the blockade. There’s clearly a crisis in every aspect of life in Gaza.

Gunness also emphasized that Israel remains responsible for the Gaza Strip and has been strangling its economy:

There’s been no exporting in Gaza in the month of May. There’s a blockade, there’s an occupation. Israel controls the land, the sea and the airspace. In international law that means there’s an occupation going on.

Abunimah refuted Israeli claims that the flotilla would carry any weapons or potential for violence, stating, “Nobody believes there are going to be arms on these ships, not even the Israelis.” He also emphasized that Gaza should not be reduced to a question of “humanitarian aid” but that the flotilla was an act of international solidarity with people being deprived of basic human rights and freedoms and being subjected – even according to Israeli officials – to deliberate collective punishment.

Katz vigorously defended Israeli government positions.