Thursday, February 07, 2008
Putting Gaza Back in the Cage posted by Richard Seymour
The all-too-brief moment of liberation for Gaza is over. The cage doors have been slammed shut, elopers shot, and air strikes on the captive population resumed. Israel's collective punishment having been sanctified by the Jerusalem-based Supreme Court last week (the reduction of power to Gaza begins today), and its past war crimes officially denied, the IDF can rampage through its open air prison at liberty. As often as it likes. The IDF are also looking at ways to stop anything like the breach of that wall ever happening again - bad example, you see. What if people starting doing that in the West Bank? And Egypt's coppers are back on the beat, shooting at Gazan protesters. The brief exhiliaration of crossing the border now gives way to a darker reality - the so-called "shopping spree" didn't begin to bring even a fraction of the goods that were needed.
Starvation is afoot. The FAO's last 'Food Security and Vulnerability' assessment, which was carried out in 2006, found that only a third of all Palestinians were food secure. The Gaza Strip is particularly vulnerable, since it cannot produce more than 1% of the wheatflour that makes up 80% of the basic diet. The report notes that "24% of food insecure non-refugees are located in West Bank and 58% are located in the Gaza Strip". (Since we tend to forget about the refugee population, who are given no rights in the 'two state' consensus, it is worth pointing out that they are in the worst condition when it comes to basic nutrition). The last time a survey of Palestinian incomes was taken, to my knowledge, was Oxfam's report in early 2007, which found that poverty had increased by 30% over the previous year. As they note, this is not only because international donors suspended aid upon the election of Hamas. It is because Israel collects Palestinian tax revenue and withholds it. The number of Palestinians living on less than $2.10 a day doubled in 2006. And so, with the economy subject to a blockade, with tax revenues withheld, with aid withdrawn, and with power supplies now cut, Israel is back to its policy of "putting the Palestinians on a diet" (as Dov Weisglass once described it).