Israel is feeling no international pressure to end its tightened blockade on Gaza, which entered its 15th year this summer.
The “Jerusalem Declaration” signed by US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid earlier this month makes no demand on Tel Aviv to lift the siege on Gaza.
In fact, it makes no direct mention of Gaza at all. The territory is only referred to indirectly where it states that the US “is committed to seeking additional defense assistance” for Israel in “exceptional circumstances such as the hostilities with Hamas over 11 days in May 2021.”
During that week and a half, Israel inflicted yet another catastrophe on Gaza. Israel used weapons made by Boeing, a company based in Chicago, to destroy residential towers in Gaza, massacring families in their homes.
Stateless Palestinians are not allowed to defend themselves from the existential threat posed by Israeli arms provided by the US and are branded as “terrorists” when they do so.
Meanwhile, Brussels is rewarding Tel Aviv for its crimes by reviving the EU’s high-level forum with Israel.
No meetings of the EU-Israel Association Council – as the forum is known – have been held for a decade due to apparent friction. In 2013, Israel reacted angrily when the Brussels bureaucracy issued guidelines, which seemed to bar Israeli bodies operating in occupied territory from receiving EU funding.
Little-noticed at the time, the guidelines actually contain a loophole which has allowed Israel’s police force and other authorities headquartered in occupied East Jerusalem to continue and even step up their cooperation with the EU.
Israel’s international accomplices are seemingly content with the siege on Gaza becoming as permanent as the belligerent military occupation that began in 1967.
The cruelty of the siege and the depravity of those who prolong it cannot be overstated.
Gaza has long been subjected to various forms of Israeli closure and movement restrictions over the past several decades. More than two-thirds of the some 2.1 million Palestinians who live there are refugees denied their right to return to their homes and land in what is now called Israel.
Sixteen UK charities called for an immediate end to the siege last week.
“This has been a devastating chapter in the decades-long fragmentation imposed on the Palestinian people, which continues to undermine their fundamental rights,” the groups state.
“With its sweeping restrictions on the entry and exit of people and goods, the deliberate policy of closure has resulted in the de-development of Gaza’s economy,” they add.
Gaza’s population is now impoverished, with some of the highest unemployment rates in the world and more than 60 percent requiring food assistance.
Israel’s siege has had “disastrous effects on the lives and health” of Palestinians in Gaza, as noted by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel.
Nearly 850 patients died while waiting for a permit to travel outside of Gaza for life-saving treatment, according to the group.Physicians for Human Rights-Israel states that around one-third of applications for children requiring medical treatment outside Gaza were delayed or denied between January and September last year.
Some 40 percent of boys and girls in Gaza who received medical treatment outside the territory in 2020 did so without their parents, who must also apply for Israeli permits to accompany their children.
This is despite how the vast majority of applications for travel to access healthcare treatment were for appointments at Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem and elswhere in the West Bank.
“Hence, accompanier permits and accommodation inside Israel are relevant, if anything, in very few cases,” according to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel.
Meanwhile, Israel prevents Palestinian medical professionals from leaving Gaza for training, thereby further reducing the capacity of the highly strained healthcare sector in the territory.
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel urges “the removal of the Israeli permit system and the blockade over the Gaza Strip and calls for an end to the occupation.”
“These measures are necessary for ensuring that the Palestinian healthcare system can develop as an independent, autonomous and sustainable unit and that all Palestinians have access to advanced medical treatment.”