Friday, May 23, 2008

I hope you'll follow the link

I have deliberated somewhat over whether or not to post the following announcement from OCHA - the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. It occurs to me, however, that my deliberations reflect some of the processes that Israel's government counts on to marginalize and minimize its ongoing subjugation of the Gaza Strip.

I will try to explain: I am aware that I have repeatedly posted items attempting to convey, and arouse interest in, the conditions that Israel is imposing indiscriminately on the Palestinian people living in Gaza, with full support from the US and Europe. I asked myself, with regard to this report, whether I should post yet another list of facts and figures and whether or not readers would tend to skip it automatically in the knowledge that they - you - had already taken time to read several similar pieces and therefore already knew more or less what was going on in Gaza. I also asked myself how I could engage at least some of you - your caring and hopefully your action, if I did finally decide to post the announcement and the link.

I mused over the title of the announcement in the mail from OCHA Media Consultant, Judith Harel, and especially over its ending: "April 2008". It seemed to me to epitomize my difficulty with reporting on, and reinforcing practical opposition to, this prolonged, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly routine of death and disablement by deprivation. "April 2008" clearly denoted one more of a series of regularly issued documents describing a long, drawn out, repetitive practice of - mostly slow - murder and injury; Murder by food shortages, murder by fuel shortages, murder by power cuts, murder by sewage overflow, murder by infection, murder by denial of medical care.

These practices are joined by bombings and military as well as para-military attacks effecting swifter murders and injuries. While asymmetrical in their scope and effects, the latter type of violence is perpetrated by both Israeli and Palestinian forces. This more reportable, immediate, more "dramatic" violence and the semblance of "routine warfare" it creates form a blind behind which mass slow injury and murder can continue. The cumulative deprivation causing daily, indiscriminate death and injury in Gaza - its extended duration, its mundane repetetiveness - succeeds in eluding and diverting public attention through boredom, to put it bluntly. Even the stark, densely factual, three-page UN report doesn't presume to report the numbers of people dead or disabled by extended deprivation. In the procss, then, the murderous regime retains its impunity.

I admit that I have no answers to the questions I'm asking both myself and you. The only answer I can give consists in what is still taking place, repetitively, outrageously, daily Gaza, while we continue to go about our lives. I feel that should be enough, sufficient grounds and reason for caring and for finding ways to act.

I'm posting the OCHA announcement rather than the three-page report because its lists and tables didn't transplant well into email format. You'll find a link to the report right under the announcement. I hope you'll click on it and read it. I hope you'll try to envision the reality beyond the numbers. I hope you'll take whatever action you can to stop it.

Rela Mazali


OCHA: Gaza Strip Inter-Agency Humanitarian Fact Sheet | April 2008 Israeli restrictions on fuel supplies to Gaza peaked in April when Israel halted supplies of diesel, petrol and cooking gas (LPG) to Gaza. UNRWA was forced to suspend its food distribution to 650,000 beneficiaries for four days due to the lack of fuel. Limited supplies of cooking gas and industrial diesel resumed before the end of the month. Market prices increased significantly in the month of April. Gazan militants attacked the Nahal Oz fuel terminal on April 9 and the Kerem Shalom goods crossing on April 18.Israeli military incursions into Gaza occurred almost every day in April, killing 21 children.

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