Israel’s Forgotten Tsunami
By GHALI HASSAN
01/12/05 "ICH" -- Between Christmas Day and Monday, 03 January 2005, Israeli forces killed 23 Palestinians, demolished ten houses, confiscated more Palestinian land and built more Jewish settlements. While the world's attention has been on the impact of the Tsunami earthquake in Asia, Israeli war machine is in full swing against the Palestinians. Witnesses and medics in the village of Beit Lahiya, where seven Palestinians were killed on Monday, said the dead were youths aged 11-17 from two farming families. Fifteen people were wounded, several critically. Not a single Israeli have been killed or injured in that week. The majority of Israel’s Tsunami victims are Palestinians.
The Israeli army has killed more unarmed Palestinians civilians since September 2000 than Americans died in 9/11 attacks. In a callous cold blood, the Israeli army has killed 622 children on their way to schools, in the street, at checkpoints, and in their homes. Israeli soldiers are routinely murdering Palestinian children for no reasons other than killing them because they are Palestinians. One child, a 13-year-old Ahmed al-Mughayer was killed while feeding his pigeons. His sister 16 years old Asma was killed while she was collecting her clothes of the drying line. Each of them was shot with a single bullet to the head on the roof terrace of their home in Rafah.
On October 2004, another Palestinian child, a 13-year-old schoolgirl Iman Alhams from Rafah in southern Gaza was shot twice in the head at close range. After she died, the Israeli soldier sprayed the girl's body with bullets. The doctors extracted 20 bullets from her body. One of the soldiers who witnessed the crime told the Israeli Ha'aretz newspaper: “We saw her from a distance of 70 metres. She was fired at... from the outpost. She fled and was wounded. I understood that she was dead. The Platoon commander walked towards her, he shot two bullets at her before returning to the outpost. Then he returned back to her, put the weapon on the automatic mode, and emptied his entire clip”. Several claims by the Israeli army on why the schoolgirl was murdered proved to be utter lies. The girl was murdered carrying her books on her way to school.
Unlike the death toll from the latest Tsunami in South-East Asia, which has morphed into an urge to hear more updates, to see more TV footages and pledge humanity, western media systematically ignores the death of innocent Palestinian children. The “stingy” outcry over natural disaster, and complete silence over Israel terror against the Palestinians is the West self-induced moral hypocrisy. We have seen on our TV screens all the “beasts in Samaritan’s clothing” shading crocodile tears, and helping those in needs. Let’s see if the pledged Western “humanity” will turn into reality. “Of the billions said to have been allocated for reconstruction in Iraq, just $29m [from Iraq’s oil revenues] has been spent, mostly on mercenaries guarding foreigners”, writes John Pilger. Iraq is paying for the US-made disaster, while Iraqis are starving.
Few days before the Tsunami struck, Tony Blair, the British Labor leader, had the courage and moral absurdity to tell the Palestinians to stop the “violence” against Israelis and seek “peace” under fascist occupation. It is important to mention that under the Blair’s government, 85% of Britons are made to believe that Palestinians are the oppressors and Israelis are the oppressed. Thanks to biased and unfair British media reporting.
The Israeli occupation of Palestine (currently Gaza and the West Bank) is not just an occupation per se; it constitutes a total control over the lives and affairs of the Palestinian people. They are incarcerated in several concentration camps, called “refugee camps”. They are prisoners within prisons. Palestinians are unable to move from one prison to other prison. Water and food are scarce. The health care system in Palestine is on the verge of total collapse.
The UN report by Jean Ziegler, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, stated that because of the Israeli occupation and the measures imposed on the Palestinians, “over 22% of children under five are now suffering from malnutrition, compared to 7.6% in the year 2000”. The report, which was presented to the UN General Assembly on the 18 November 2004, “Around 15.6% of children under the age of 5 suffer from acute anaemia, which for many will have permanent negative effects on their physical and mental development in the future. Food shortages, particularly of proteins, have been widely reported. More than half of Palestinian households now eat only once per day”. The report also added that, “some [Palestinians] try to subsist on bread and tea. Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are “on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe”.
Furthermore, The World Bank estimates that 60% of the Palestinian population are subsisting at poverty level (£1.12; $2; 1.6 per day), a tripling in only three years. A study by Johns Hopkins University in the US and Al-Quds University in Palestine found that 20% of Palestinian children under 5 years old were anaemic, 9.3% were acutely malnourished, and a further 13.2% chronically malnourished. The prevalence of anaemia in pregnant women and low birth weight babies are also rising.
While the Palestinian health care system is on the verge of destruction, the Israeli is building their “separation Wall” to further imprison and isolate the Palestinian people. “The Wall, which is rightly called the “Apartheid Wall”, will “isolate 98 primary health clinics and 11 hospitals from the populations they serve”, write Derek Summerfield of Institute of Psychiatry in London, UK. As a result of this hindrance to treatment in time of emergency, many Palestinians have needlessly died at Israel’s checkpoints.
According to Derek Summerfield, “Qalqilya hospital, which primarily serves refugees, has seen a 40% fall in follow up appointments because patients cannot enter the city. There have been at least 87 documented cases (including 30 children) in which denial of access to medical treatment has led directly to deaths, including those of babies born while women were held up at [the Wall many] checkpoints”.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ruled that, “The Wall imposes immense and unnecessary suffering on the Palestinian people”. Significantly the Court ruled that, the Wall “violated Palestinian rights to self determination”. The Court asked the Security Council of the UN “to take action to bring and end to the illegal situation resulting from it construction”. Israel’s main financier and supporter of its terror, the US, have rejected the Court ruling. Only on of the 15 judges was American.
The Wall is Israel secret war against the Palestinians. It is used to steal their lands and water resources. Its impact on the lives of the Palestinian people is a Tsunami’s impact moving in slow motion. We do not see its impact on the Palestinians because “those images are surrogates for what we have become but have not permitted ourselves to see”, writes Bruce Jackson of NY University. Will Tony Blair (and other western leaders) go to Israel and tell the Israelis to tear that Wall down and seek peace with the Palestinian people?
Ghali Hassan lives in Perth Western Australia: He can be reached at e-mail: G.Hassan@exchange.curtin.edu.au
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