Under Punitive Israeli Blockade, Gaza Unemployment among Worst in World: UN

The illegal Israeli blockade of little Palestinian Gaza (pop. 1.5 million) has produced 45% unemployment, perhaps the highest in the world, and a situation in which real income has fallen by a third in the past five years. This according to [pdf] a new report by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. The bad economy, caused by an Israeli policy of blocking all exports from Gaza and severely limiting imports, has an especially severe impact on refugee families who had been ethnically cleansed by Israelis from what is now Israel in 1948, who make up about 40% of the Gaza population. The Guardian has more.

Aljazeera English has a video report:

The Gaza Strip’s stock of medicine has also fallen to dangerously low levels. Aljazeera English reports that: “Dr Basim Naim, the minister of health in the de facto government of Gaza, says 178 types of necessary medications are at near zero balance in stock. He says more than 190 types of medicine in stock are either expired or are close to their expiry date, which has forced his administration to postpone several medical operations.”

Israel’s blockade policy is a way of punishing Palestinians in Gaza for the ascendency in the Strip of the fundamentalist Hamas Party, which won the 2006 elections for the Palestine Authority. But a majority of the Palestinians in Gaza is children, who do not vote, and among whom food insecurity is now at record levels. Israeli officials say the blockade targets arms imports, but in fact it targets the Palestinians of Gaza in toto. Why ban all exports of things produced in Gaza if the aim is to stop arms imports? Why did they ban import of chocolate if that was the aim? Wikileaks State Department cables reveal that Israeli officials have admitted privately that their goal in Gaza is to make Palestinians there live on the absolute edge, without tipping the situation over into clear humanitarian disaster. Arguably, in the latter balancing act, they have failed.

I heard a BBC reporter point out that private sector employment has fallen, but public sector employment numbers are not so dire. Since Hamas controls the public sector, Israeli policy is essentially pushing the Gaza population into their arms.

The victory in Sunday’s election of the Justice and Development Party in Turkey was proclaimed by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan as a “victory for Gaza.” Turkey opposes the blockade and a Turkish aid flotilla was attacked by Israeli commandos last year this time with lethal force, leaving 9 aid workers dead (including one American). There are plans for more aid convoys. A UN commission found that the attack on the Mavi Marmara was illegal in international law, as is the blockade of the civilian population in general.

The new transitional government in Egypt has slightly opened the Rafah border crossing, but mainly for certain categories of Gaza residents who need to travel outside the Strip. The new Foreign Minister (and incoming head of the Arab League) Nabil Alaraby has called the Israeli blockade “disgusting,” which is about the least harsh thing a civilized person could say about it.

Israel is considered in international law to be the Occupying Power in Gaza, since it controls Gaza’s air, land and sea borders and took control of the place in the 1967 war. As such, Tel Aviv is in contravention of the Hague Convention of 1907 and the Geneva Convention of 1949 on the treatment of populations in territories occupied in war. In fact, Israel has been in violation of international law on this issue for so long and so egregiously that I think a case could be made that its occupation of Palestinian territory is by now itself illegal.

12 Responses

  1. “In fact, Israel has been in violation of international law on this issue for so long and so egregiously that I think a case could be made that its occupation of Palestinian territory is by now itself illegal.”

    Since when was occupation of Gaza and the West Bank legal?

    • In the law of war, occupying enemy territory is not in itself illegal, which is why there is an acceptable body of law about how civilians in occupied territories must be treated.

  2. The Palestinian situation continues to worsen every day. What an inhumane world we live in, that these atrocities have been going on for so many years and yet no country will step in to try to stop the Israelis from their war crimes against the Palestinians. Why does the UN only use words? Some action would be welcome. Why are the politicians in this country so unwilling to face up to what’s going on? Is campaign funding THAT IMPORTANT that our elected officials will not step forward and take some action to end the occupation? Very discouraging, frustrating, unfair and infuriating.

    • Reed, there are a lot of people in the world who have it a lot worse than the Palestinians who most certainly get more than words from the UN

    • Yes, most of our reps and more than a few senators are twits who do what they are told to do say what they are told to say, and all for the glory of being congressmen.

  3. Erdogan’s boast was also that his victory was a a victory for Sarajevo and Beirut and Damascus.
    Erdogan does talk a good game, but, to date, there’s not much substance to his talk.

  4. I think it’s well overdue for a case being made that Israel should be subject to trade sanctions, until it gets its domestic issues in order. Zionism itself isn’t immoral, but nor is it moral. It immediately becomes immoral as it requires the self-dispossession, expulsion, or ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population. While South African apartheid was by no means “kind” to South Africa’s blacks, because blacks were an integral part of the labor economy, they were better taken care of than Israel treats their natives – which is pretty much like the boogers they can’t flick off. They don’t want to have anything to do with Palestinians, including complete denial of any responsibility for them no matter the circumstance.

  5. Why can’t Egypt open it’s border with Gaza more? Why has it not been called the Israeli-Egyptian blockade?

    • Egypt still receives very substantial US aid – while the US is compelled by Egyptian politics to accept a “notional” abrogation of the Israel-Egypt agreement, it would cut off aid if the border was completely opened.

  6. The fact that Israel has gotten away with what are viewed as illegal actions by most of the civilized world, has led to where we are today. As far as Washington is concerned, they live in a bubble, one that is financed by Wall Street & AIPAC. The corruption of Congress boggles the mind. The recent performance of Netanyahu during his visit to the P.O.T.U.S. and Congress fawning over him, is very telling. A quite disgusting performance by him towards both the P.O.T.U.S. and the Congress. I really wonder if the American Jews can continue supporting what Israel is turning into? Can the U.S.? That should be the question on everyone’s lips today.

  7. You can call it by name, Juan. Gaza has become a concentration camp (not an extermination camp, if you insist on accuracy) for the native Palestinians, run by Jews, who somehow claim the eternal victim title. The amazing thing is that unlike Germany, they are doing their evil deeds in peace time and with the entire so-called “civilized west”,with the US foremost, turning a blind eye and in fact abetting this crime. Warsaw Ghetto didn’t have a list of permitted food items and the shortages there stemmed from war-time shortages, just to show you that the Jews have in some ways exceeded their German torturers with their creativity, and you can imagine what they would do under the fog of total-war (Nakba II has always been a part of the Zionist blueprint. It’s just a matter of timing and opportunity but unless the Arab world unites and stands on its feet, the Palestinians’ fate has already been sealed.)

    • sure you can call it a concentration camp, Ron. you can also call it a really large playground. both descriptions are absurd.

      Gaza is blocked and the Gazans are besieged.

      that’s dire enough and cartoon comparisons aren’t needed.

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