Israel’s collective punishment of Gaza gains in horror and scope

Ehud Barak is the mastermind behind a new sort of torture currently in Gaza.  There has been a complete cessation of traffic between Gaza and the rest of the world with a few exceptions.  There are a few good descriptions out there including the following:

    The Palestinian Union of Gas Stations announced that around 180 gas stations all-over the enclave had closed down due to shortage of fuels, while the Palestinian Council of Industry said that 3,900 factories closed down “because they don’t have electricity or fuel to operate their electric generators.”

    Chief of the Palestinian Committee to Confront Closure, Jamalal-Khudari, expected that Gaza Strip would witness the first ever humanitarian crisis “if Israel continues closing the Gaza Strip and barring fuels for operating the main Gaza power plant.”

    “We call on the world, on the Arabs and Muslims to do whatever they can in order to exert pressure on Israel to stop this policy of punishing and eliminating 1.5 million Palestinians,” said al-Khudari.

    He said that the whole life in Gaza will stop, “if there are no fuels for Gaza power plant and for vehicles. Consequently, Gaza Strip will sink into darkness, where hospitals, clinics, factories, bakeries … everything will stop.”

Israel’s decision to completely seal off Gaza Strip crossings has intensified the suffering and privation faced by Gaza residents. Gaza hospitals say they are forced to bury Palestinians killed in IDF strikes draped in flags and bed sheets because of a shortage of burial shrouds. Cement is only available on the black market and its price leaped five-fold, bringing a halt to all construction. UN food aid cannot get through—leaving the more than one million Palestinians who rely on it, about two thirds of Strip residents, facing imminent hunger. The Strip’s sole power station, already at 45% capacity—meaning frequent black-outs—has enough fuel to supply electricity only until Sunday morning.

And then there’s this good article from Informationclearinghouse: 

A humanitarian crisis is underway as the Gaza Strip’s only power plant began to shut down on Sunday, and the tiny coastal territory entered its third full day without shipments of vital food and fuel supplies due to Israel’s punitive sanctions.

The Gaza Strip’s power plant has completely shut down on Sunday because it no longer has the fuel needed to keep running. One of the plant’s two electricity-generating turbines had already shut down by noon.

This will drastically reduce output to 25 or 30 megawatts, down from the 65 megawatts the plant produces under normal conditions. By Sunday evening the plant will shut down completely, leaving large swaths of the Gaza Strip in darkness.

Omar Kittaneh, the head of the Palestine Energy Authority in Ramallah, confirmed that by tonight, the one remaining operating turbine will be powered down, and the Gaza power plant will no longer be generating any electricity at all.

“We have asked the Israeli government to reverse its decision and to supply fuel to operate the power plant”, Dr. Kittaneh said. “We have talked to the Israeli humanitarian coordination in their Ministry of Energy [National Infrastructure]. We say this is totally Israel’s responsibility, and that reducing the fuel supplies until the plant had to shut down will affect not only the electrical system but the water supply, and the entire infrastructure in Gaza – everything.”

After months of increasingly harsh sanctions, Israel imposed a total closure on the Strip’s border crossings, even preventing the delivery of humanitarian aid. The Israeli government says the closure is punishment for an ongoing barrage of Palestinian homemade projectiles fired from the Gaza Strip.


180 fuel stations have shut down after Gaza residents to buy gas for cooking.

A Palestinian economist Hasan Abu Ramadan said the current humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip will be deepened by the blockade on fuel and food supplies. He warned that Gaza Strip could go from a situation of deep poverty to all out famine, disease, and malnutrition.

Abu Ramadan said that more than 80% of the Strip’s 1.5 million residents have been surviving with the help of food aid from international organizations such as UNRWA for Palestinian refugees.

International condemnation

Most international actors in the region believe there already is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, including the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, the Undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs John Holmes, who said at a press conference at UNHQ in New York on Friday that “This kind of action against the people in Gaza cannot be justified, even by those rocket attacks”.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon expressed particular concern, in a statement issued later on Friday through his spokesperson, about the “decision by Israel to close the crossing points in between Gaza and Israel used for the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Such action cuts off the population from much-needed fuel supplies used to pump water and generate electricity to homes and hospitals”.

The UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied territories, John Dugard, also issued a much sharper statement on Friday, saying that Israel must have foreseen the loss of life and injury to many nearby civilians when it targeted the Ministry of Interior building in Gaza City.

This, and the killings of other Palestinians during the week, plus the closures, “raise very serious questions about Israel’s respect for international law and its Commitment to the peace process”, Dugard said. He said it violates the strict prohibition on collective punishment contained in the Fourth Geneva Convention, and one of the basic principles of international humanitarian law: that military action must distinguish between military targets and civilian targets.



4 Responses to “Israel’s collective punishment of Gaza gains in horror and scope”

  1. 1 elyakatz January 21, 2008 at 11:27 am

    I assume we’re all interested in the truth. With that in mind, and in order to get all perspectives on the matter, please see I have also posted some articles of interest at

  2. 2 theradicalmormon January 21, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Thanks for the article. I have my reservations about it’s validity though. Why would Israel undertake this sort of an action if it had no effect? It makes no sense that Israel would do this under such international condemnation if it wasn’t effective in making Gaza squirm. Also, it is completely consistent with Israel’s other tactics against Gaza to assume that people are sufferring because of this seige. I tend to believe the UN rather than Israel here.

  3. 3 Non-Arab Arab January 25, 2008 at 3:43 am

    You may be interested to know that the website he linked to (Arutz Sheva) is a far-right settler-colonialist site. They work out of facilities on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank.

  4. 4 theradicalmormon January 25, 2008 at 5:13 am


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