Making Gaza “Scream”

Making Gaza “Scream”

by Stephen Lendman

Making Gaza “scream” is same kind of scheme the Nixon
administration planned for Chile after social democrat
Salvador Allende won a plurality of the votes in
September, 1970.  Before the Chilean Congress
confirmed him as president in October, an infamous
Nixon CIA Director Richard Helms handwritten note
read: “One in 10 chance perhaps, but save Chile!...not
concerned with risks involved…$10,000,000 available,
more if necessary…make the economy ‘scream.’ ”  By
it, he meant saving the country from a socially
responsible leader, like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez,
using his nation’s wealth equitably and not just for
its privileged elites.  “Scream” it did through
Nixon’s “soft line” scheme “to do all within our power
to condemn Chile and Chileans to utmost deprivation
and poverty,” in the words of his Chilean ambassador
Edward Korry.

It lasted three years until a “hard line” one replaced
it on another September 11 Chileans won’t soon forget
in 1973.  It was when a CIA-orchestrated military coup
ended the most vibrant democracy in the Americas,
replacing it with the brutal 17 year reign of General
Augusto Pinochet. 

The US has a notorious record of imposing economic or
political sanctions against any nation daring to
operate outside of Washington Consensus political and
market rules.  It’s also quick to levy trade sanctions
for corporate friends whose notion of “free trade” is
the one-way kind benefitting them.  The Clinton
administration was a frequent abuser of these
practices imposing them unilaterally against 35 or
more countries during its eight years in power.  They
were also in place against the Soviet bloc during the
Cold War and other nations aligned with it.  The Bush
administration currently has them in place against
such countries as Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Syria,
Burma, Belarus, Sudan, and Venezuela.  It’s our way of
saying we’re boss, what we say goes and no outliers
are tolerated even when they only wish to govern
independently from us or are targeted by a close ally
we support.

That’s the plight of the Palestinians who’ve been
“screaming” for six decades following Israel’s “war of
independence” they call al-Nakba, the catastrophe.  In
May, 1948, they were deprived of four-fifths of their
former land and the remainder for the past 40 years.
Conditions then became especially harsh after January
25, 2006 when they rejected ruling Fatah’s
institutionalized corruption and willingness to be
Israel’s enforcer for the benefits it afforded its
leaders.  They defied predictions and democratically
elected a majority of Hamas members to Palestinian
Legislative Council (PLC) seats because they promised
to do what Fatah wouldn’t - serve their own people,
not the state of Israel against them.

Ever since, they’ve paid dearly for their choice.
Israel, the US and West ended all outside aid, imposed
an economic embargo and sanctions, and politically
isolated the ruling Hamas government.  Repressive
Israeli rule was tightened and harsh intervention and
daily attacks in the Territories followed. It included
fomenting internal conflict on Gaza streets leading up
to Hamas defeating the heavily US and Israeli-armed
opposition Fatah insurgent forces, regaining control
of its own territory in a surprising show of strength.

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, in
league with Israel and the US, then declared a “state
of emergency” June 14 and illegally dismissed Hamas
prime minister Ismail Haniyeh and his national unity
government.  On June 15, he appointed former IMF and
World Bank official Salam Fayyad prime minister (whose
party won 2% of the 2006 election votes), and on June
17 swore in a new 13 member illegitimate “emergency”
cabinet with plans for future elections excluding
Hamas. On June 16, the US said it would lift its ban
on the Abbas government and did it formerly on June

On July 1, Israel began releasing frozen Palestinian
tax funds transferring $120 million in a first
installment to Abbas in the West Bank.  The amount is
one-sixth what Palestinians say they’re owed (around
$700 million) from tax revenues Israel illegally
withheld beginning February 1, 2006 after Hamas’
election January 25.  Hamas is denied all aid from
Israeli and western sources in a continuing effort to
keep its Gaza-led government isolated, economic
sanctions on it in place, and its people kept in
desperate need of help not forthcoming. 

More on that below.  In the meantime, Israeli prime
minister Olmert spokeswoman Miri Eisin said “Israel is
committed to working with the new Palestinian
government.  We hope that together they (meaning the
Abbas West Bank self-imposed government) will be able
to build a strong administration which will give them
a better capability to enter into full negotiations.”

She neglected to mention Abbas’ “emergency” government
has no legitimacy, its US and Israeli funded and
supported action was a brazen coup d’etat against a
democratically elected government, and by “full
negotiations” she means bowing to Israeli demands and
abandoning the rights and needs of the Palestinian

Hamas called Israel’s disbursement to Abbas “financial
bribery (and) political blackmail” meant to keep Gaza
and the West Bank divided and Palestinians in a state
of internal conflict saving Israel some of the bother
of stirring it up itself.  Prime minister Ismail
Haniyeh says the Palestinians’ only recourse is
“resistance.  The Americans won’t give us anything.
Israel won’t give us anything. Our land, our nation
will not come back to us except with steadfastness and
resistance” against what Israeli prime minister Olmert
calls “cooperation (from Abbas in the West Bank that)
will….enable us to make progress on the diplomatic
track.” Of course, it’s to benefit Israel at the
expense of the Palestinian people who aren’t likely to
accept the fate its quisling president and Israel have
in mind for them.

Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza Deepens

Here’s how several concerned NGOs headline Gaza’s
deepening crisis.  It won’t improve as long as Israel,
the US and West continue their war against the
democratically elected Hamas government most
Palestinians still strongly support. 

Oxfam Great Britain is a member of Oxfam
International, a development and relief organization
working to alleviate poverty, human suffering and
injustice worldwide, currently operating in over 30
countries.  It highlights the crisis in Gaza in its
June 19 article titled “Locked in Gaza” describing the
“increasing desperation of Gazans as shortages of
fuel, water and food are reported.”  Israel keeps
people there “locked in Gaza,” unable to move even for
those desperately needing medical care in Israel for
what’s unavailable at home. 

It mentions two Palestinians were shot dead June 18
trying to cross the checkpoint separating Gaza from
Israel, almost a daily occurrence in the Territories.
It says water in Gaza is a major problem as there’s
little electricity to pump it.  Food is running out as
well as all of it comes from outside Gaza city.
Markets are empty, people have little or no money,
borders are closed, the threat of starvation for many
is real.  Israel allows no international NGOs to
operate in Gaza so the people aren’t being helped when
their need is greatest.

On July 6, Oxfam issued an updated press release.  Its
assessment of conditions in Gaza was grim warning
“thousands of refugees across Gaza will face imminent
cuts in water and sewage services if more fuel is not
provided in the coming days and weeks.”  It said the
Gaza Coastal Municipality Water Utility (CMWU) had to
cut its water supply in half from eight to four hours
a day because of fuel shortages affecting 65,000
people in the Strip’s largest camp.  Fuel is also
running out for sewage drainage pumps in the Saflawi
neighborhood.  Without it, “sewage (may spill) into
the streets….in days, contaminating the remaining
water supply….spreading life-threatening disease
(in) the densely-populated camp.”

It continued saying other parts of Gaza face the same
problem, affecting its entire 1.5 million population.
Fuel may be exhausted in days at the hottest time of
year when water demand is highest.  In the face of
this impending crisis, the Abbas government in the
West Bank is doing nothing to alleviate it.  Gaza is
totally dependent on outside help unable to do its job
because Israel closed border crossings and sealed off
the entire Territory from the outside world.

A UN report is no more encouraging from an article on
Media for Global Development June 15.  It says the UN
Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian
refugees was forced to scale back its work while Gaza
was in conflict.  It “severely limited its ability to
(bring in vitally needed) humanitarian supplies” to
the 80% of Gazans dependent on them.  It calls 40% of
the population “food insecure” meaning they could
starve without help.  It explained even in the absence
of street fighting there are critical shortages of
food, water, medical supplies, fuel and other
essentials.  Outside help is critically needed, but
Gazans aren’t getting it because Israel closed the
entry points between Egypt and the Strip stopping
critically needed supplies from entering.

The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the
Occupied Territories, B’Tselem, raised its alarm as
well June 17 with an article titled “Urgent Appeal
from Israeli Human Rights Groups to Israeli Defense
Minister: Open Gaza’s Borders to Prevent a
Humanitarian Crisis.”  It says hundreds of refugees
are trapped between the sealed Erez crossing and Hamas
inside Gaza, including the sick and injured from
recent events in the Territory.  It also cites
critical food and medical supply shortages and
urgently says: “The state of Israel cannot stand idly
by at a time when the fundamental human rights of Gaza
residents are being violated and the right to life is
being threatened.”

It mentions eight Israeli human rights organizations
warning of a crisis that will worsen as long as Israel
“continues to close borders and isolate Gaza from the
outside world by preventing the supply of essential
goods, trapping residents inside the Gaza Strip, and
preventing Gaza residents who traveled outside the
Strip from returning home” including the chronically
sick and injured.

With essential border crossings closed, supplies
aren’t coming in.  Fresh food, such as meat, fruit and
dairy products are disappearing.  The World Food
Program warns of dangerous food shortages.  B’Tselem
calls Israel’s border closings and disconnect of
Gaza’s electricity and water grid an act of collective
punishment against all Gazans in violation of
international law.  The Israeli human rights
organization calls on the state of Israel to end these

The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global
Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH) is a Jerusalem-based
NGO “dedicated to fostering democracy and good
governance within Palestinian society.”  It aims “to
serve as a Palestinian platform for global dialogue
and cooperation guided by the principles of democracy,
human rights, gender equity, and participatory

That said, MIFTAH’s article June 23 headlined “Growing
Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza.”  It warns of a major
humanitarian disaster being inevitable unless Israel
eases its border crossing restrictions and allows in
vitally needed supplies.  At present, only a two to
four week supply of food remains.  Essential food and
other supplies “are waiting to enter Gaza” but have
been denied entry by Israel since Hamas’ takeover in
June. It mentions the German chapter of UNICEF
reporting on the “deteriorating condition of Gaza’s
children (from) lack of proper sanitation.” It
heightens the risk of diseases and contagion from some
of them with limited medications on hand.  So far,
Israel is adamant citing “security considerations” for
keeping border crossings closed.  By that it means it
intends to keep punishing all Palestinians
collectively for having elected Hamas its government.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) offers
the most detailed and harrowing account of how
desperate conditions now are in Gaza.  It says how
“gravely concerned” it is since Israel tightened its
siege by closing all border crossings, including the
Rafah International Crossing Point on the Egyptian
border.  It urgently calls on all states, UN agencies
and all international humanitarian organizations “to
immediately take steps to pressurize (Israel) to allow
the normal flow of basic supplies, including
foodstuffs and medical supplies, into the Gaza strip
to avoid an imminent crisis that threatens” 1.5
million Gazans. Three-fourths of them live in poverty
and nearly as many are unemployed and have no other
source of help.  Gaza is the most densely populated
place on earth.  It’s also the world’s largest
(Israeli-imposed) open-air prison.  It’s more locked
down than ever with all border crossing points closed
and sealed and Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) attacking
the Strip daily.

As long as Israel is unwilling to open them, food,
medicines, fuel and other essential supplies can’t get
in.  Palestinians desperately needing medical care
outside the Strip can’t travel to get it.  Gaza
hospitals and health centers can’t provide essential
medical services. PCHR lists the site closures:

—the Rafah International Crossing Point on the
Egyptian border through which Palestinians travel back
and forth;

—the Karni commercial crossing gravely affecting
food and other essential deliveries.  Mentioned is the
shortage of wheat with mills running out and having to
shut down.  Gaza needs 600 tons of wheat daily;

—the Sofa crossing through which raw materials enter
halting most construction projects;

—the Kerem Shalom crossing through which food and
medicines come;

—the Erez crossing affecting international and local
organizations, patients and commercial traders; and

—the Nahal Oz crossing through which fuel transits.

PCHR calls on Israel to reconnect Gaza to the outside
world and avoid a humanitarian disaster.  It wants the
“economic siege” on Gaza ended; human rights to be
respected; and international law obeyed, including the
1949 Fourth Geneva Convention (GCIV - ratified and
accepted by 194 countries as of June, 2006) relating
to the rights and protections of civilians in times of
war “in the hands” of an enemy and under occupation by
a foreign power. 

It further calls for increasing essential aid from
international humanitarian organizations to relieve
the deteriorating conditions in the Territory and
human suffering.  It asks that the rights of all
Palestinians be respected and that all efforts be made
to ensure them.

PCHR also publishes daily reports and a weekly summary
of events on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian
Territories (OPT).  They always center on Israeli
Defense Forces’ (IDF) “continue(d) systematic attacks
on Palestinian civilians and property.”  Its latest
weekly summary runs through July 4 and cites the
following violence in Gaza and Fatah-run West Bank
from daily Israeli incursions in both areas.

In Gaza and the West Bank:

—10 Palestinians, including 6 civilians, were killed
by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), 3 by extra-judicial
assassination in Khan Yunis;

—27 Palestinian civilians were wounded by IDF

—IDF conducted 31 incursions into Palestinian
communities in the West Bank and 3 others in Gaza;

—IDF conducted a 2-day incursion into Nablus and
neighboring refugee camps;

—IDF arrested 92 Palestinian civilians, including 19
children, in the West Bank;

—IDF continued imposing a total siege on the OPT;

—12 Palestinians trapped on the Egyptian side of the
Rafah International Crossing Point died for lack of
attention to their medical needs;

—A Palestinian wounded in a car died as IDF
obstructed his evacuation to a hospital; ambulances
attending the sick and wounded are routinely attacked;

—IDF arrested 6 other Palestinians at various
checkpoints; and

—In addition to a strict siege on Gaza discussed
above, IDF tightened a similar one on Fatah’s
controlled West Bank isolating Jerusalem from the rest
of the Territory.  Severe restrictions on movement are
in place and additional checkpoints have been erected
on main roads and at intersections.  These events are
part of daily life imposed on Palestinians by their
Israeli occupiers making life for them intolerable and
the reason they resist.

—After this report was released, IDF killed at least
11 Palestinians and wounded 25 others on July 5 in
what Israeli military officials dismissively called “a
routine operation.”  In response, Hamas officials
accused Israel of provoking conflict while they’re
trying to end it and maintain law and order.

The Palestinian people have endured unbearable
hardships and suffering like this for nearly six
decades, the result of cruel unremitting Israeli
repression of them.  Yet they endure, resist and
continue working for what they want most - to live
freely and securely in peace in their own unoccupied
land ruled by governments they elect to serve them.
It’s the dream of all oppressed people - to one day
have the equity and social justice they deserve.  By
now, Israeli and western governments should know
Palestinians won’t ever stop struggling for the rights
no nation has the right to deny them.  One day they’ll
prevail because they won’t give up resisting until
they do.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
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