Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Besieged Gaza Two Years After Cast Lead
By Stephen Lendman
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, January 10, 2011
December 28 was Cast Lead's second anniversary, a three week
onslaught inflicting an appalling human, destructive and environmental toll.
The war ended. Regular attacks continued, and Gaza remains suffocating under
siege. Yet world leaders are doing nothing to end it or hold Israeli war
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
(PCHR) said "Gaza remains sealed-off from the outside world (after) the
single most brutal event in" the occupation's history, and "impunity for war
To date, victims' rights have been unaddressed.
International law remains ignored. Indisputable war crimes were airbrushed
from history. Israeli war criminals were shielded from justice. Only three
lower-ranking soldier were convicted for war-related offenses. One was for
credit card theft, two others for using a nine year old boy as a human
shield. Israeli government officials who ordered war, generals and top
commanders who planned and implemented it, and other complicit figures were
uncharged and unpunished.
World leader silence condoned them. The
rule of law was trashed for imperial Israel, including allowing it to slowly
suffocate over 1.5 million Gazans. Moreover, a newly released WikiLeaks
cable says Israel plans major wars on Gaza and Lebanon. More on them below.
Preventing Gaza's Reconstruction
On December 21, the Gisha
Legal Center for Freedom of Movement asked "Who will rebuild Gaza?" Six
months after Israel's cabinet decision to ease closure, a new Gisha report
headlined "Reconstructing the Closure: Will recent changes to the closure
policy be enough to build in Gaza," saying:
"Despite the cabinet's
decision, Israel continues to ban the entrance of steel, gravel and cement,
(essential) items which are not considered to be dual-use according to
international standards." Narrow exceptions only were allowed with
"burdensome bureaucratic strings attached."
For most items, Israel
bogusly claims Hamas may use construction materials to build bunkers and
"enhance its military capability" in other ways. As a result, little
rebuilding progress has been made. Gaza remains in ruins, and over 1.5
million Palestinians struggle daily to cope.
For example, from July
6 - December 6, 2010, only 744 truckloads of cement, gravel and steel
entered Gaza for international projects. In addition, up to 900 tons of
concrete (equaling 36 truckloads), 300 tons of steel, or 250 tons of gravel
move through tunnels on any given day. Though way short of enough,
whatever's supplied helps. In contrast, prior to June 2007 (when siege
began), over 5,000 truckloads of these materials came in monthly. Israel is
determined to suffocate Gazans, committing the equivalent of slow-motion
Ongoing Gaza Displacement
On December 27, the Al
Mezan Centre for Human Rights new report headlined, "On-going Displacement:
Gaza's Displaced Two Years after the War," saying:
Two years after
Cast Lead, "tens of thousands of Gaza residents continue to live a life of
displacement" because of Israel's suffocating siege. As a result, they've
gotten little "meaningful relief (or) their right to adequate housing."
After Cast Lead ended, UN Under Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs, John
Holmes, said it's "absolutely critical that (construction) material(s) be
allowed into Gaza on a regular and hopefully free basis."
two years, Israel's prevented them, collectively punishing tens of thousands
of Gazans, unable to rebuild their homes and lives. Gaza's Ministry of
Housing and Public Works said 51,553 homes were destroyed or damaged. Of
these, 3,336 were completed demolished and 4,021 sustained major damages.
Most aid Gazans got came from Hamas, the UN Development Program (UNDP),
and UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Other agencies also provided
materials, equipment and food. Also, families whose homes were totally
destroyed got cash. Refugee homeless families received about $5,000 from
Hamas and a comparable amount from UNWRA. Others whose properties sustained
major damage got about $2,500 from Hamas and another $3,000 from UNWRA.
Non-refugee families were also helped, amounts based on whether their
homes were entirely or partially destroyed. Families who lost properties
have been most harmed, needing alternate shelter, mostly in leased
apartments until their homes are rebuilt.
Based on a random survey
from its "home demolitions" database among families whose homes were
entirely destroyed, Al Mezan estimates:
-- 93.3% of families haven't
gotten rebuilding help so must live elsewhere;
-- 13.3% rebuilt
-- 86.6% can't do it because they didn't receive enough
-- 56.6% have rented homes or apartments; of those, 41.2 %
(23.3% of the total) get regular assistance, covering their full rent
expense; another 35.3% receive only partial help;
-- 33.3% get no
help for rent;
-- 10% live in houses other than their own;
-- 6.7% live with relatives or their families;
-- 10% live in tents;
-- 30% had to move their children to new schools;
-- 66.7% said
alternative housing doesn't provide comfort and privacy like their own; and
-- 86.7% are dissatisfied with how service providers handled home
demolition and destruction problems.
A second survey among families
whose homes were partially destroyed showed findings only modestly better,
-- 83.3% were living in their own residences, despite
-- 43.3% were dissatisfied with service providers, half
the percentage of homeless families.
Overall, however, Gaza remains
in crisis, ongoing since June 2007, and exacerbated by Cast Lead
destruction, atrocities, regular assaults, little concern by the
international community, and no accountability for Israeli war criminals.
Occupied Palestine's history shows sustained justice denied, especially in
Gaza under siege.
Another Lebanon and Gaza War?
disclaimer: nations like Israel and America regularly prepare operational
plans for wars that never are fought. Why? So they're ready in case they
are. For example, America's Afghanistan war began on October 7, 2001, four
weeks post-9/11, a conflict that took months to plan.
true for Israel's 2006 Lebanon war and Cast Lead. Neither was impromptu
following pretexts cited to launch them. They were in place many months in
advance as are preparations for all wars. In other words, plans alone don't
automatically mean war. Most often, they don't. However, given the
belligerent history of America and Israel, information suggesting more war
can't be discounted. Too many previous ones were waged so sooner or later
Juan Cole writes regularly for his Informed Comment
site, on January 2 headlining "WikiLeaks: Israel Plans Total War on Lebanon,
Norway's Aftenposten newspaper "summarized an Israeli
military briefing by Israeli Chief of Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi" for US
congressional members over a year ago, saying:
"The memo on the
talks....as well as numerous other documents from the same period, to which
Aftenposten has gained access, leave a clear message: The Israeli military
is forging ahead at full speed with preparations for a new war in the Middle
Cole emphasized "serious and specific" preparations, not
contingency planning. US cables quoted Ashkenazi saying:
preparing the Israeli army for a major war, since it is easier to scale down
to a smaller operation than to do the opposite....In the next war Israel
cannot accept any restrictions on warfare in urban areas."
did Israel's last two conflicts in 2006 against Lebanon and Cast Lead, under
its "Dayiya Doctrine," named after the Beirut suburb destroyed in summer
2006. It reflected how future wars would be fought as IDF Northern Command
head Gabi Eisenkot explained at the time, saying:
"What happened in
the Dayiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which
Israel is fired on. We will apply disproportionate force at the heart of the
enemy's weak spot (civilians and non-military targets) and cause great
damage and destruction. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages
(towns or cities), they are military bases. This is not a recommendation.
This is a plan. And it has been approved."
Cast Lead (like Lebanon
2006) showed that civilians and non-military targets are attacked freely
without cause to inflict maximum damage, deaths, injuries and human misery -
Whether or not true, Ashkenazi and America's State
Department claim Hamas and Lebanon's Hezbollah amassed large stockpiles of
rockets, threatening Israel. In fact, no nation endangered Israel since the
1973 war, and given its dominant regional strength, none does so now. Other
nations' weapons are purely defensive and no match for Israel, nuclear-armed
Cole observes that Israel "could have a peace treaty
with Syria and Lebanon tomorrow by giving back the Golan Heights and the
Shebaa Farms...." For decades, Palestinians have also sought peace, but
Israel chooses conflict. So does America.
As a result, Cole fears
that Washington's support for Israeli belligerence will incite inevitable
blowback, "finally finish(ing) off the (few remaining) civil liberties
enshrined in the American Constitution." Already on life support, they need
only a shove to be cut off.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can
be reached at
email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at
sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with
distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive
Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at
noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.