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News :: Human Rights : International
Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights Protests Gaza Blockade
27 Jan 2008
On Saturday, January 26, a group of Israeli peace activists attempted to deliver food and needed medical supplies through the blockade into Gaza. In Solidarity with this event, demonstrations were held around the world, including right here in Boston--or more precisely, Cambridge. Members of the Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights gathered in Harvard Sq. at noon. They numbered well over 100, and stretched a full city block, from Holyoke St. to Dunster along Mass Ave. They stood there in the cold with banners, flags and placards decrying Israel's blockade of Gaza and the latest humanitarian crisis for Palestinians.

LISTEN TO AUDIO REPORT:
07PLAGUE02_600.jpg
Art by Erik Ruin (www.justseeds.org)
On Saturday, January 26, a group of Israeli peace activists attempted to deliver food and needed medical supplies through the blockade into Gaza. In Solidarity with this event, demonstrations were held around the world, including right here in Boston--or more precisely, Cambridge. Members of the Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights gathered in Harvard Sq. at noon. They numbered well over 100, and stretched a full city block, from Holyoke St. to Dunster along Mass Ave. They stood there in the cold with banners, flags and placards decrying Israel's blockade of Gaza and the latest humanitarian crisis for Palestinians.

LISTEN TO AUDIO:
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See also:
http://www.bcpr.net/
Related stories on this site:
Israeli Oppression in Hebron

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Gaza buried in flour
29 Jan 2008
The Boston Globe has just run an op-ed under the headline "Ending the Stranglehold on Gaza." The authors are Eyad al-Sarraj, identified as founder of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, and Sara Roy, identified as senior research scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. The bias of the op-ed speaks for itself, and I won't even dwell on it. But I do want to call attention to this sentence:
Although Gaza daily requires 680,000 tons of flour to feed its population, Israel had cut this to 90 tons per day by November 2007, a reduction of 99 percent.
You don't need to be a math genius to figure out that if Gaza has a population of 1.5 million, as the authors also note, then 680,000 tons of flour a day come out to almost half a ton of flour per Gazan, per day.

A typographical error at the Boston Globe? Hardly. The two authors used the same "statistic" in an earlier piece. They copied it from an article published in the Ahram Weekly last November, which reported that "the price of a bag of flour has risen 80 per cent, because of the 680,000 tonnes the Gaza Strip needs daily, only 90 tonnes are permitted to enter." Sarraj and Roy added the bit about this being "a reduction of 99 percent."

Note how an absurd and impossible "statistic" has made its way up the media feeding chain. It begins in an Egyptian newspaper, is cycled through a Palestinian activist, is submitted under the shared byline of a Harvard "research scholar," and finally appears in the Boston Globe, whose editors apparently can't do basic math. Now, in a viral contagion, this spreads across the Internet, where that "reduction of 99 percent" becomes a well-attested fact.

What's the truth? I see from a 2007 UN document that Gaza consumes 450 tons of flour daily. The Palestinian Ministry of Economy, according to another source, puts daily consumption at 350 tons. So the figure for total consumption retailed by Sarraj and Roy is off by more than three orders of magnitude, i.e. a factor of 1,000. No doubt, there's less flour shipped from Israel into Gaza--maybe it's those rocket barrages from Gaza into Israel?--but even if it's only the 90 tons claimed by Sarraj and Roy, it isn't anything near a "reduction of 99 percent." Unfortunately, if readers are going to remember one dramatic "statistic" from this op-ed, this one is it--and it's a lie.

Sarraj is a psychiatrist, but his co-author, Sara Roy, bills herself in her bio as a "political economist." Her research, the bio reports, is "primarily on the economic, social and political development of the Gaza Strip." You would think someone with this claim to expertise would know better than to copy some impossible pseudo-statistic on the consumption of the most basic foodstuff in Gaza. Indeed, in a piece she wrote a decade ago, she herself put Gaza's daily consumption of flour at 275 tons. Did she even read her own op-ed before she sent it off to Boston's leading paper? If she did, what we have here is a textbook example of the difference between a "political economist" and an economist.
See also:
http://Gaza buried in flour
Is gaza occupied?
29 Jan 2008
Is Gaza occupied?

Yesterday, the ever-reliable UN "Human Rights" Commission did what it literally always does - it condemned Israel and no one else. As Israellycool points out, the resolution used the terminology "occupied Gaza Strip" no less than four times.

Is Gaza legally occupied?

It is hard to find a good definition of "occupied territory" in international law. The best one is perhaps from the Hague Convention of 1907, which the Geneva Conventions seems to rely on:

Art. 42. Territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army.
The occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised.

From the specifics of both the Hague and Geneva Conventions, it is clear that "occupation" means control over the day to day lives of the citizens of the territory. For example:

Art. 55. The occupying State shall be regarded only as administrator and usufructuary of public buildings, real estate, forests, and agricultural estates belonging to the hostile State, and situated in the occupied country. It must safeguard the capital of these properties, and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct.

Other provisions talk about maintaining public order and the like.

From these many provisions in the Hague and Geneva, as well as in normal use of the word in English, it is clear that "occupation" means physical presence as well as the effective takeover of functioning governmental institutions and tasks, like collecting taxes.

From Israel's perspective, its (legally ambiguous) declaration of Gaza as a "hostile territory" is far more accurate, as is clear from this article by two legal experts at The American Thinker last year:

If Gaza is territory under the control of the enemy -- as it manifestly is under Hamas -- then the Israeli government is both within its rights and arguably obliged by its responsibilities to its citizens to treat the strip as "hostile territory." Siege and blockade of a hostile territory is a legitimate tactic of war, used in declared and undeclared (e.g., Cuban) conflicts and explicitly recognized by the 1949 Geneva Conventions. The Conventions' sole limitation is that there be "free passage of all consignments of food-stuffs, clothing and tonics intended for children under fifteen, expectant mothers, and maternity cases" (Fourth Convention, art. 23) -- and even this exception was conditioned on there being "no reasons for fearing... [t]hat a definite advantage may accrue to the military efforts or economy of the enemy" (for example, if resources destined for humanitarian aid will be commandeered by the enemy). Israel has carefully respected this requirement.


In fact, if anyone is occupying Gaza, it would appear to be Hamas.

Hamas never legally seceded Gaza from the PA and both Hamas and the PA keep declaring that both Gaza and the West Bank are a single legal entity. In fact, Hamas and the PA keep negotiating over where the PA might be able to take over some functions in Gaza, as well as their ultimate rapprochement, thus fulfilling another essential portion of the definition of occupation - that it be temporary.

In addition, Hamas clearly acted against the wishes of the PA and against PA laws in its takeover. Beyond that, Hamas is fully acting like an occupier, taking over the governmental institutions in Gaza like the police and the courts and collecting taxes.

Obviously Hamas has never accepted any international legal conventions. And Hamas is not a country, which complicates the definition further. Even so, as the effective occupier, it clearly violates many of Geneva's laws, including forcibly taking hospital supplies from the civilian population for its own purposes (Geneva IV, Art. 56)

Hamas' status under international law needs to be clarified, and its obligations spelled out. The current situation where a terrorist occupying force (or quasi- government) has no legal obligations is absurd, and it directly leads to travesties like this UNHRC resolution.
A visit to gaza
04 Feb 2008
A trickle of Egyptians made it into Gaza, and they got a warm welcome.

One Egyptian truck driver ignored a policeman's order to stop and rolled through an intersection in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis. Instead of being reprimanded by the normally stern Hamas traffic police, he was cheered by onlookers.

Said Mohammed stood in a Gaza City market, next to his pickup truck with red Egyptian license plates. From the back of the truck, two men, who had paid Mohammed to deliver the cargo, sold Egyptian-imported smoked herring to curious residents.

After the border breach, Mohammed drove for days to dodge Egyptian security checkpoints, making money by renting his truck to Palestinians who wanted to ferry goods into Gaza.

"I've always wanted to see Palestine anyway," said a smiling Mohammed, a slight dark man with black eyes. Pointing to cars crowding a nearby street, he said: "I thought conditions here would be harder than this. I thought people would be starving."

news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080201/ap_on_re_mi_ea/palestinians_gaza_notebook_1
Any successful act of resistance`
05 Feb 2008
is cause for celebration.
There is no justification for the murder of innocents
07 Feb 2008
There is no justification to the targeting of elderly women shopping in the mall. This is the "resistence" of cowards.
hamas intercepts humanitarian aid convoy meant for gaza
08 Feb 2008
Hamas confiscates humanitarian aid meant for Gaza

www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/952322.html
Hamas confiscates humanitarian aid trucks sent to Gaza from Jordan

At least 10 trucks with humanitarian aid sent to the Gaza Strip by the Jordanian Red Crescent Society were confiscated by Hamas police shortly after the trucks entered the territory on Thursday evening, according to aid officials in Jerusalem.

Eight trucks had food products and another two had medicines. They were reportedly taken to Hamas-run ministries.

Initial reports said the intended target of the aid was the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) in Gaza. Hamas and the PRCS had a run-in in the past, when the Islamic group diverted another aid convoy.

A spokesman for the Hamas police in Gaza said that the number of trucks was in fact 14 and they would be "delivered to Palestinians in need in the Gaza Strip."

He added that Hamas was the responsible body in the territory and it would decide how to distribute the aid.

Related
www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/952322.html
Gaza situation revealed as hyperbole
08 Feb 2008
Change of Heart in Cairo
by Noha El-Hennawy

As the border with Gaza was sealed off, the Egyptian state-owned media launched a campaign apparently seeking to overturn public sympathy for the Palestinians. Newspapers have become harsh on the Palestinians, with front-page news about Palestinians shooting at Egyptian soldiers, weapons smuggling, terrorism and reports of false currency in Sinai, posing a threat to Egypt's national security. The new content replaces earlier headlines that showed sympathy with the Palestinians.
Rose-al-Youssef, a state-owned paper known for being the most vocal mouthpiece of the regime, has spearheaded the anti-Palestinian campaign. The paper even denied that Gaza had a humanitarian crisis, hinting that Gazans were well-off. Abdullah Kamal, the paper's editor in chief, wrote, "Each [Gazan] comer spent an average of $260 in three days...the total spending during that period reached $220 million. These figures raise real questions about the financial situation in Gaza."