Voice of America would have its listeners believe that as the conditions in Gaza deteriorate, Israel is turning to the world for help.
This is a bizarre take on reality. Israel, more than any state in the world, has led the charge in reducing Gaza to economic desperation.
The US propaganda outlet did get one thing right: Conditions in Gaza are certainly deteriorating. The notion that Israel is serious about helping, however, flies in the face of 10 years of an Israeli siege and three devastating wars against the people of Gaza resulting in the deaths of more than 3,500 Palestinians.
Nickolay Mladenov, special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, recently told the UN Security Council that “Absent immediate steps to address the humanitarian crisis and to revive the economy, we will face a total institutional and economic collapse in Gaza. This is not an alarmist prediction … it is a fact.”
Particularly noteworthy is the highlighting by Voice of America of the previous efforts of Qatar to fund various projects in Gaza, such as $84 million for a road and another $114 million for buildings in southern Gaza as well as a hospital. Unmentioned in the article was Qatar’s intention to provide a $9 million grant for fuel and medicine at Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital.
Muhammad al-Emadi, who heads Qatar’s Gaza reconstruction effort, declared, “When you want to do work in Gaza, you have to go through the Israelis.”
In an interview with the Associated Press, he called for Israel to provide Palestinians with more travel permits, but also pinned blame on the Palestinian Authority during a contentious visit to Gaza that included a shoe thrown at his car, apparently by a hospital cleaner upset by the lack of pay.
Al-Emadi’s comment about the PA led Fatah to issue a statement defending its leader Mahmoud Abbas.
“The political statements which the Qatari envoy made against President Mahmoud Abbas attempt to exploit the tragic situation in Gaza as he denies the support we provide to our people there and what we share with them,” the statement read.
These heightened tensions come at a time when Qatar has lately been strengthening its relations with the pro-Israel lobby.
During the interview with the Associated Press at his Jerusalem hotel, al-Emadi stated: “If the international community helps Gaza, this will prevent” a new war in Gaza.
The pressure the Trump administration, Gulf states and Egypt are applying to Qatar is presumably enormous.
Israel squeezes hard in Gaza – waging “economic warfare” according to Gisha, a human rights group – and in 2012 was discovered to have cynically calculated how many calories Palestinians there need to survive. The goal, 2,279 calories per person, seems to have been to make life miserable without an actual famine.
The current policy pursued from Washington to Riyadh appears to be that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations favoring obfuscation and endless delay have failed and now should be replaced by a ratcheting up of the economic pressure Palestinians have endured for the past decade in Gaza.
The Palestinian Authority has cruelly proven its complicity and been repaid by the Trump administration with the announcement that the US would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Notwithstanding the setback, the PA continues to turn the screws against the people of Gaza.
Leaders from Gaza to the West Bank to Israel to the Gulf to the European Union to the US to the UN have universally failed Palestinians in Gaza.
There is seemingly nowhere to turn as water supplies dwindle and farmland shrinks.
“Spraying of agrochemical poisons”
Yes, even the farmland is shrinking as Israel has turned to aerial herbicide spraying at the barrier to kill Palestinian crops.
The Israeli military attempted to explain the process in December 2015: “The aerial spraying of herbicides and germination inhibitors was conducted in the area along the border fence last week in order to enable optimal and continuous security operations.”
In practical terms, this has meant the destruction of crops and new impediments to Palestinians’ ability to feed themselves.
The practice continues, most recently in January 2018 according to the Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights.
A briefing paper published by Al Mezan in February spelled out the effects for Palestinian farmers in Gaza. “The spraying of agrochemical poisons deforms some crops and visibly changes their color. This is easily observable on leafy plants, such as spinach, parsley, chard and rocket.”
The human rights organization also noted the negative consequences for honey production.
The lack of transparency regarding substances used has caused alarm in Palestinian farmers along the boundary area just inside Gaza – according to Al Mezan “officially designated by Israel to encompass the lands within 300 meters from the border, but effectively extending up to 1,500 meters into Gaza’s territory.”
Beyond knowing that Oxygal is one of the chemicals employed by Israeli planes in fly-overs, Palestinians do not know what other chemicals are damaging crops and soil in the area.
The harm to this strip of land along the barrier is a microcosm of what is transpiring in Gaza as a whole which, according to a 2012 UN report, requires “Herculean efforts” if it is to be a “liveable place.”
Those efforts have not been forthcoming. Notwithstanding the claims by Voice of America about Israel seeking help for Gaza, the situation has only declined since the 2012 UN report with Israeli military and economic policies central to the deterioration in conditions.