Wednesday, November 08, 2006


On Tuesday I went to a discussion on the situation in Gaza. I was going to give you funny snippets of the Israeli lefty scene but the latest Beit Hanun massacre (19 civilians killed yesterday) makes this unimportant.

The daily killing is the more visible side of what is going on in Gaza. At the same time there is a sustained attempt to make life there as hellish as possible for the population - but also just about bearable. Israel does not want a visible humanitarian disaster so it allows the UN to provide food (80% of the population depend on it). Three things from the discussion:

(*) After years of restrictions, the Gaza fishermen are now virtually prohibited to go out to sea at all. The implication is not only 3500 families with no supporter, but also dangerous lack of protein in local diet.

(*) The local gross product has shrunk by 25% during the last year. Since the population is growing, this (very roughly) means that standard of living fell by more than 25%. Reasons? mainly the closure of crossing points and inability to export, but also electricity shortages, as a result of the attack on the local plant which provided about half of Gaza's electricity.

(*) If there was any military reason to harm Gaza’s electricity (for example, to stop the production of rockets) Israel could have pressed on the OFF button. Israeli plants provide the other half of Gazan electricity. But pressing a button doesn't give you a good picture.

The attack on Gaza's power station was an act of reprisal and revenge, a collective punishment. Not only did it make life much harder in Gaza, it also no doubt killed people - by limiting elecrticity for hospitals, by making it very hard to refridgerate food. Like the people who died in the Rafah crossing waiting for the border to open, and unlike the dead from yesterday, these people are invisible. All you have is the picture of the destroyed power station: a 'clean' act ("no casulties") of state rage.


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