Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Let the people breathe

Dec.11, 2007

Letting the people breathe

THE WELFARE of the Palestinian people under Israeli military occupation has always been the first to be sacrificed in the political and military confrontation in the ongoing Palestinian struggle for freedom and independence.
The case should have been different in the Gaza Strip, which is supposed to have been freed when Israel withdrew its military and settlers from the Mediterranean coastal strip last year. However, the situation in Gaza today is worse than that of the West Bank, which is under Israel's occupation.
Although Israel withdrew its military and settlers from Gaza, the coastal area remains very much under Israeli control. The Israeli army has sealed off all exits from the strip and controls the flow of everything into and out of Gaza, while the Israeli navy patrols the sea off the coast and prevents Gazan fishermen from going out to sea.
The people of Gaza are caught in the Israel-Hamas confrontation. Obviously, Israel is hoping to subdue Hamas into submission by subjecting the residents of Gaza suffering and thus forcing them into rising against Hamas. However, the game plan has little chance of success since such is the mindset of Palestinian resistance.
In the meantime, the Gazans continue to suffer. This was highlighted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which voiced alarm on Monday about the health consequences of the "intolerable" isolation of the Gaza Strip.
The cut in the flow of fuel to Gaza is creating the biggest concern because services have been affected in Gaza hospitals and Israel is blocking Gazans from acessing outside treatment.
The WHO says that 23 per cent of requests in October for treatment in Israel were refused, compared with 17 per cent in September and 10 per cent in June.
Palestinian health workers say 23 people have died in recent months.
The international community cannot and should not allow the situation to continue. Ordinary people who have committed no crime should not be punished. The world has the obligation to find some means to persuade Israel to call off its inhuman blockade of the Gaza Strip so that the people there could breathe as normal human beings.