Par Peace Lines le 3 Avril 2018 à 05:15
GAZA GAZING AT US... SENDING OUT AN S.O.S.
1- The Three Doors
In the Gaza Strip there are three doors, one to the North-East (Erez Crossing), the other to the South-West (Rafah Crossing).
One to Israel, the other to Egypt. Plus the Kerem Shalom Crossing, for trucks only, 2 km South of Rafah.
Today, as of early April 2018, the three doors are practically closed. Few people cross daily to Israel and back through Erez, due to security considerations between Israel and Gaza. None cross through Rafah to Egypt and back, except three, four times a year, for a couple of days, without any warning.
The last time the Rafah Crossing was opened, hundreds of Palestinians, women, children, old people most of them, remained stranded on the Egyptian side for days on end, unallowed to come home. "We are being treated like animals" they complained.
In the last months the number of trucks coming into Gaza from Israel has tragically fallen from 800/1,000 a day to 300-350. Not due to restrictive measures taken by Israel, but to the collapse of Gazans' purchasing power. People in Gaza just do not have the means anymore to buy what they need for basic daily life.
2- The Great Border Breach
Ten years ago, on January 2008, after 7 months of blockade, both by Israel and Egypt, the people of Gaza, under the guidance of activists who demolished the metal wall separating them from Egypt, desperately rushed to the other side. The United Nations observers estimated to half the population the number of those who crossed over for goods and supplies (between 700,000 and 800,000 then). After a few days though, then President Mubarak ordered the border to be sealed again, and they all had to return to what had become a cage to them.
Check : Gaza Border Breach
3- The Open the Doors Campaign
A handful of Nobel Laureates then started the Open the Doors Campaign, based on three demands :
- "enable Gaza to open to the world"
- "end all killings and attacks" on both sides
- "release a significant group of women prisoners, sick prisoners, the youngest and longest-serving, along with those held under arbitrary procedures"
(among the prisoners was Sargeant Shalit who had been captured in a crossborder raid and detained underground, incommunicado, since June 2006).
As they felt more leverage was needed, they extended this Campaign to the European Parliament - the only major forum worldwide directly related to Israel and Palestine, on every level : historical, geographical, spiritual, and human. Reaching up to 54% of the Members of Parliament in 2014.
The release of Sargeant Shalit was obtained in October 2011, along with the release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners and most of the women detained.
Since, things have been stalling, and the human condition of the 2 million Gazans has gradually deteriorated to a point of no-return.
4- Raw facts that "everybody" knows
Electricity can be switched on for 3 to 4 hours a day only. Families, businesses, hospitals, depend on generators - and their fuel, to be bought from Israel or Egypt. Strictly speaking, people live in the dark.
Water from the taps is unfit to drink, and people have to buy water from barrels and bottles, which depletes their misery budget - 80% live in poverty, 65% under the poverty line, 45% of the people are unemployed (as opposed to 20% in the West Bank and 4.3% in Israel). For women and those under the age of 25, the figure rises to more than 60%, close to two thirds.
Although they could enjoy bathing along the Mediterranean shore, this has become a health hazard, as the water is tragically polluted from raw sewage rejected into it, due to electricity shortage. Even the beaches further North, in Israel, up to Ashkelon, are now polluted.
5- Life and death underground
What has changed since January 2008 ?
Precious little. Things have only gone from bad to worse, from one Egyptian president to the next. There's no leaving the Gaza Strip, except through the Erez Crossing trickle to Israel, and the occasional and chaotic opening of the Rafah Crossing to Egypt three or four times a year, for a few hours, a couple of days at most.
Activists and young men working for wages keep digging tunnels, deeper and deeper, often dying underground, buried alive in yellow sandy earth, crushed by collapses. Dozens have died this way. Egyptian and Israeli authorities keep flooding, destroying the tunnels, one after the other. Whereas there were once as many as a thousand, the tunnel business is nothing like what it was in the Mubarak-Morsi years.
6- What of the "March of Return"?
It can be seen as a ploy, a Trojan Horse of vast proportions, with an ultimate scheme of mayhem and bloodshed - since bloodshed is the only element that may attract the world's attention.
Close to 800,000 people desperately broke through the border with Egypt in 2008. This time the focus is on Israel, with the irreal goal of the 1948 refugees and their descendants (millions of them) returning to their former lands and homes. No Israeli government can ever yield to that. It would mean the implosion of the Jewish State, by the force of numbers and chaos. 1948 was 70 years ago. Where in the world do refugees return en masse after 70 years ?
Add to this the number of military tunnels that have been dug from Gaza into Israel in the latter years, and you will understand that the Israelis have reasons to fear anything that could look like the Great Border Breach of 2008, this time into their land.
Now, if you were Gazan, what would you do? Israeli citizen Leah Solomon asked.
7- What can - and must - be done, urgently
Since we are free to move and act as we please, whether in Europe, America, or the rest of the world, what can we do not to just sit back and pretend that we just don't see ?
The very least that can be done is to reopen one of the two Gaza doors, the Rafah Crossing. All the more as no other than the European Union (Nobel Peace Laureate for 2012) has kept its keys since 2007.
From 2005 to 2007, a remarkable team of 60 inspectors, the EU Border Assistance Mission - Rafah, did their job, letting an average of 1,500 Gazans cross daily. In the summer of 2007, they were sent back to Ashkelon, and later to the suburb of Tel Aviv, where they have been stationed since, at the cost of 1 million euros a year.
Under the motive that "we don't talk to Hamas". "Hamas" couldn't have cared less. The people only paid the price. Since the end of 2017 though, this pretext has lost its last shred of validity, since none other than the Palestinian Presidential Guard has seized control of the Rafah Crossing. In the current year, from July 2017 until the end of June 2018, the EUBAM - Rafah budget has been doubled to 1.98 million euros. What are they waiting for ?
8- Mach die Tür Auf ! Open that Door !
All we are asking is: let the EUBAM-Rafah Mission get back to work, and do its job. Mach die Tür Auf ! Open that Door !
And let's start working on Gaza's offshore harbour! ["A new island in the Mediterranean... just off Gaza" June 2017]
Give Gaza a Fourth Door : to the World !
We, the European Union, the United States, the willing Emirates, Japan, Russia, China (why not?), under the blue flag of the United Nations.
Let the people of Gaza out !
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