Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu called on the Israelis to lift their siege of Gazan civilians and warned them not to block the aid flotilla. Turkey had for decades been close to Israel, its secular generals preferring Tel Aviv to the Arab powers. But the ruling AK Partisi is imbued with more respect for Islam and for popular opinion than was common with most Turkish governments. Since two of the 8 ships in the flotilla are Turkish-sponsored, any naval confrontationof Turkey’s vessels by an Israeli warship could turn ugly in the diplomatic realm.
The 1.6 million people of the Gaza Strip, half of them children, have become trapped by history between a hostile Israel on one side, cutting them off from their traditional hinterland of Arab markets, and the Mediterranean on the other. Since 2007, the Israelis have imposed on Gaza a thoroughgoing blockade, in hopes of unseating the Hamas party-militia that gained control in the January, 2006 parliamentary elections. The blockade has deeply harmed the health and economic well-being of the Gazans, but it has had zero impact on Hamas hegemony.
Although Israeli officials propagandistically claim that they allow large amounts of aid through every week, what they don’t say is that they aren’t allowing enough aid in. Saying that you give someone you keep tied up in your basement a whole 400 calories a day is just a way of saying you are starving him, since he needs roughly 2000 calories a day. Focusing on what is let through as opposed to what is kept out is just misdirection, as when a stage magician gets you to glance somewhere else other than at the elephant he brought in. After the brutal war it launched on Gaza in December- January 2008-2009, Israel banned the import of building materials that would have allowed most buildings and residences to be repaired.
Here are some revealing statistics from a recent report by the World Health Organization on the situation in Gaza:
This heartbreaking account of Gaza by US physicians doing volunteer medical work there underlines how inadequate the medical facilities are.
Lara Hart notes that Gaza needs 100 new schools to meet the needs of the burgeoning population of children. Israel’s self-defeating refusal to allow these schools to be built will consign a generation of Palestinian children to ignorance, making them easy marks for violent recruiters.
This horrible siege of a whole civilian population would be bad enough, but the Israelis who carry it out have managed to hide from themselves what they are doing to the Palestinians. They have convinced themselves that it is dangerous to Israelis for the Palestinians to have so much as concrete. But what they are doing constitutes a war crime in international law. The Occupying power can’t arbitrarily and randomly punish innocent ordinary people to “encourage the others.” Such techniques were used by the most unsavory of the mass authoritarian states of the interwar period, and the victors of WW II aimed to put an end to these cruel techniques of governing occupied populations through instruments such as the Geneva Conventions.
Anyone not so blinkered will naturally sympathize with the aid flotilla and hope that it gets through. For the sake of the children.