In my June 28 column, I wrote about the U.S. use of devastating sanctions against Venezuela, Iran and North Korea. U.N. Special Rapporteur Alfred de Zayas visited Venezuela in late 2017 and wrote about the U.S.-imposed sanctions against Venezuela: “Modern-day economic sanctions and blockades are comparable with medieval sieges of towns.”
Unfortunately, sieges are not a thing of the past. For example, although little reported by the mainstream media, there is the illegal 21st-century Israeli siege of Gaza. Here are excerpts from some of my earlier columns about this cruel Israeli siege that give some sense about this crime. It is only with U.S. support that Israel is able to maintain the siege.
In February 2006, former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s adviser Dov Weissglas shockingly admitted the goal for the 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as: “We have to make them much thinner, but not enough to die.” In October 2006, John Dugard, a South African law professor and the U.N. Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, stated that Israel has turned the Gaza Strip into a prison for Palestinians where life is “intolerable, appalling, tragic” and appears to have thrown away the key.
In a Jan. 11, 2008, article, Ilan Pappe, a Jewish professor and one of the leading historians of the Middle East, described the situation as genocide in Gaza and ethnic cleansing in the West Bank. These statements were before Israel totally sealed Gaza on Jan. 18, 2008. After this hermetic closure, Karen Koning AbuZayd, commissioner general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, stated: “Gaza is on the threshold of becoming the first territory to be intentionally reduced to a state of abject destitution, with the knowledge, acquiescence and — some would say — encouragement of the international community.” On Jan. 30, 2008, Neve Gordon, who teaches politics at Ben-Gurion University, described the crisis as an experiment in famine.
In 2012, the U.N. warned that Gaza would be unlivable by 2020 if nothing were done to ease the blockade. In July 2014, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency stressed the long-term water crisis, stating that “Gaza’s aquifer will have been entirely contaminated in the next three to four years, making the strip essentially unlivable.” In a March 2014 report, the Palestinian Water Authority found that at least 95 percent of the water in Gaza is currently so contaminated that it poses a significant health risk to the Gazan population. In 2017, Robert Piper, the U.N. humanitarian aid coordinator for the occupied territories, said that the point “of unlivability (had) been passed quite a long time ago.”
This siege has been compounded by massive Israeli criminal attacks on Gaza in 2008/09, 2012 and 2014. Leaders of the so-called civilized Western world may occasionally mouth some platitudes, but they do little to alleviate or end Palestinian suffering. Hypocrisy rules the day as U.S. protection allows Israel to kill with impunity.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is a nonviolent attempt to end this crime against humanity. Please voice your support of BDS to Congress.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s “Peace Train” runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.