Palestine: Economic and humanitarian crisis in Gaza

While the U.S.-backed Israeli war machine strafed Lebanon’s countryside this summer, Israel continued its brutal war against the Palestinians.


Between late June and the end of August, Israeli security forces killed at least 250 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, most





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Young Palestinians run from Israeli bombing in Gaza.

of them civilians and 54 of them minors. Israeli assaults have been met with fierce resistance from Palestinian fighters and the population as a whole.


Israel’s military war on the Palestinians has been coupled with an attempt to strangle the economy.


The economic crisis in Gaza has been mounting since January, when Hamas was elected to lead the Palestinian Authority. Since then, Israel has refused to turn over more than $350 million in taxes and customs duties owed to the Palestinians.


Because of this halt in funding, 180,000 PA employees, including teachers and civil servants in all professions, have not been paid since March.


According to Jan Egeland, UN humanitarian coordinator, the people of Gaza are “living in a cage. …There is not enough electricity, there is not enough water. The social conditions [are at] an intolerable level. … For me, Gaza is a time bomb. It cannot continue like this without an enormous social explosion.” (The Guardian, Sept. 2)


Poverty and desperation rampant


In Gaza, one of the world’s most densely populated areas, 80 percent of people live below the poverty line. Because of Israel’s round-the-clock military siege and complete economic stranglehold, the people in Gaza are on the verge of starvation.


Riyad Mansour, permanent observer of Palestine to the United Nations, stated that the Israeli military aggression in Gaza since the end of June has included the seizure of crossing points, preventing people, food, medicine and fuel from entering Gaza. Trade between Gaza and the outside world has essentially ceased. (UN Info. Service, Sept. 8)


Palestinian fishermen have even been forbidden to go far from shore, forcing them to wade into the surf to catch fish with hand-thrown nets. (The Independent, Sept. 7)


The Rafah Crossing, the only exit point for Gazans wishing to travel abroad, has been closed since the beginning of the summer. Many Palestinians use the Rafah crossing to receive medical treatments in Egypt that are not available in the Gaza Strip. Closure of Rafah has led to deaths among patients waiting to cross into and out of Gaza. (Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Aug. 3)


Palestinians in Gaza have also had to flee their homes by the thousands because of heavy shelling of civilian areas.


On Aug. 3, after visiting Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where the hospital staff was struggling to deal with wounds




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necessitating an unusually high number of amputations, Karen AbuZayd, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency commissioner-general, stated, “Please don’t forget what’s going on in Gaza because there is no let up in incursions and access problems here. What we saw in Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza on Tuesday was rather horrific.”


She called attention to an “unprecedented scale of suffering.”


Four days later, AbuZayd added, “Living conditions for Palestinians in Gaza are at a breaking point. … Israeli military action in Gaza over recent weeks has created suffering and mass despair. … The strangulation of commerce and trade has ruined the economy, it has brought the institutions of government to a point of near-meltdown.”


The U.S.-backed Israeli military attacks on Gaza and Israel’s economic stranglehold continue unabated. Neither the UN nor any imperialist power has done anything to ease the suffering of the Palestinians.


But for revolutionaries and progressives around the world, the Palestinian struggle continues to be an inspiration. On Sept. 11, at the opening ceremony of the Nonaligned Movement summit in Havana, Cuban foreign minister Felipe Perez Roque expressed solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and denounced “the daily genocide to which the Palestinian people are subjected.”


Protests marking the 1982 Israeli-directed massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps are taking place in cities and towns across the world on Saturday, Sept. 16.


The “crime” for which the Palestinians are being punished is their continued fierce resistance to U.S. and Israeli plans to control historic Palestine and dominate the entire Middle East.


Despite the incredible hardships they face on a daily basis, the Palestinian people have shown their will to fight for justice and against colonial occupation.

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