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European MPs and Ministers Assess Gaza Today - European MPs and Ministers Assess Gaza Today

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European MPs and Ministers Assess Gaza Today
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Sanitation

Waste water treatment facilities suffered "a complete breakdown," according to Ibraheim Radwan of Gaza's Engineering Syndicate. He described the impact of raw sewage flows to the sea and at times streets with contaminants leaching into tap water.

Lack of enough power and fuel are the problems, without which facilities can't operate. As a result, Gaza's three purification plants run sporadically, and 80 million liters of sewage reach the sea daily, more than half the output. Half is partially treated, the remainder raw.

For dependent Gazans, it's like living atop a toxic waste dump containing the most hazardous contaminants, endangering health and human life.

Healthcare

Mohammed Al Aklouk, Chair of Gaza's Public Service Association, "described how the crises in construction, power, water and sanitation affect the vital provision of healthcare" for everyone in need. Facilities are doing what they can "within the constraints imposed by the blockade."

It's not easy because shortages of everything exist, and much was destroyed and not replaced. There's also "a chronic shortage of specialized medical personnel and access to training," besides spare parts, needed equipment, and dozens of unavailable drugs for cancer, heart, kidney and other diseases, and psychiatric disorders. What's available runs out and isn't replaced because of siege restrictions.

Most often, even for emergencies, care outside Gaza is also denied because crossings remain closed. In addition, doctors report an alarming increase in birth defects and other medical problems because of exposure to white phosphorous and other hazardous chemicals - war crimes when used as weapons. Worse ones against civilian men, women and children. Worst of all in densely populated Gaza.

According to Jolanta Szczypinska, Polish MP, "The white phosphorous that was used by the Israeli army in the heavily populated civilian area of Izbet Abed Rabu was still burning a year after the war."

Emotional as Well as Physical Suffering

As a result of the siege and conflict, a plague of psychological trauma afflicts Gazans, especially children, 73% of whom suffer emotional and behavioral disorders according to post-war studies. Most common are nightmares, involuntary urination, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, aggression and bed-wetting.

Save the Children's Osama Damo called Gaza "a traumatized nation." Out of fear, children can't sleep. "Others cry at the sound of loud noises, mistaking them for military jets and tanks coming to bomb their homes." The stress level endangers mental health and future for entire the population.

Gaza's Agriculture in Shambles

Pre-siege and conflict, it provided employment for 13% of Gaza's workforce, and it thrived with a capacity to grow around 400,000 tons of produce a year, a third for export.

It supplied much of Gaza's food needs. No longer after tanks and armored vehicles raised around 17% of arable land, including the same percentage of olive, date and other fruit orchards and over 9% of open fields. Greenhouses, livestock and shelters, irrigation channels, wells and pumps were also bombed or bulldozed, and replacement materials and parts are prohibited.

Further, up to one-third of agricultural land lies in so-called "no-go" areas - Israel's imposed "buffer zone," expanded to anywhere from 300 meters to two kilometers into Gaza. As a result, many farmers lost their livelihoods and nearly half of agricultural land can't be used.

According to UK House of Lords member Baroness Jenny Tonge, children lack basic nutrients "to develop properly. The result: anemia, stunted growth, attention deficit disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc."

Employment or Lack of It

Operation Cast Lead destroyed or severely damaged hundreds of businesses and factories. As a result, an estimated 120,000 private sector jobs were lost. Gaza's tunnel economy compensates but can't replace a normally functioning economy, impossible under siege prohibiting a way to rebuild.

Solutions Not Forthcoming

With Fatah running the West Bank and Hamas (Gaza's legitimate government, bogusly designated a terrorist organization) in charge of Gaza, "most funds are being channeled to the West Bank instead of Gaza and 80 percent of Gaza's population is living under the poverty line."

Commenting, British MP Robert Marshall-Andrews said:

"We find greater-than-apparent significance in the destruction of parliamentary, administrative and police buildings....when we place it in the context of similar actions that have been systematically conducted in the past few years in areas such as Nablus and Ramallah. By destroying civilian infrastructure for both politics and policing, the Israeli forces continue to undermine the argument they make about Palestinians not being able to be a partner for peace that can deliver security."

Maliciously taking away their livelihoods and the argument increases several fold. "The people of Gaza await justice!"

ECESG's Call to Action

Rhetoric aside, EU nations failed to translate words to actions. They and America must take the lead to end the blockade to prevent June 2010 from being its third anniversary. Specifically ECESG calls for:

  • ending the siege;
  • arresting suspected war criminals and holding them accountable;
  • inviting the Palestinian Legislative Council to EU capitals for engagement with European Parliament officials;
  • the international community must respect and support future Palestinian elected officials, whether or not they approve voter choices;
  • violence against civilians must be condemned "from any source and for any reason;" and
  • a unity Fatah-Hamas government is essential, without explaining that Hamas was democratically elected; Fatah usurped West Bank power and holds it illegally.

"Unity" requires letting Hamas serve the people who elected it, not a bogus coup d'etat regime with no legitimacy, working against the interests of its own people by allying with Israel and Washington for its own interests.

According to British MP Clare Short:

"What is clear to me is that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is very dire, and regardless of the politics of the situation, all parties - the EU, US, Egypt, the Arab League and Israel - should take much more vigorous action as a matter of urgency to relieve it. If they do not, a deprived and traumatized generation fueled by hatred and a desire for revenge will become a ticking time-bomb in the explosive cauldron of the Middle East."

Short left out that Washington and Israel generate it - Israel an occupier with imperial aims; America its funder, weapons and technology supplier, and partnered hegemon with global ambitions.

Short of a policy and direction change, Gazan and West Bank Palestinians will continue to suffer until the entire region erupts with unpredictable consequences for all parties involved. So far, nothing is being done to prevent it, leaving an explosive situation unaddressed.

A Final Comment

On April 19, Gaza's Health Ministry warned that an ongoing fuel shortage is exacerbating an already grave humanitarian crisis. The announcement followed the April 9 closure of the Strip's only power plant, causing a total blackout.

Hospitals and clinics turned to emergency generators, but they need fuel, so the problem persists. Health Ministry Director General Medhat Abbas called the situation "devastating" in explaining its importance for refrigeration, labs and blood banks as well as emergency services. He asked the international community for immediate and urgent help, what up to now has been entirely absent short of rhetoric.

As a result, Palestinians continue to suffer and die, out of sight and mind of world leaders who largely don't give a damn. Why else would they tolerate nearly three years of medieval siege that's slowly starving 1.5 million people to death, a holocaust they refuse to acknowledge or prevent.


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