Less than a week ago we posted on an impending public health emergency in the embattled Gaza strip region of Palestine, where a relentless Israeli assault had cut off much of the population from water and power at the height of summer heat. The warning came from our friend, Palestinian doctor and social justice activist, Dr. Moustafa Barghouti (this is not the Barghouti currently being held in an Israeli jail). Things have deteriorated further and UN aid agencies have joined in the urgent warnings. From Reuters:
U.N. aid agencies said on Saturday that Gaza was on the brink of a public health disaster and civilians were disproportionately paying the price in Israel’s military offensive.
Some 50 Palestinians have been killed since Israel sent its forces into the Gaza Strip 11 days ago to try to free a captive soldier and prevent militants from firing rockets at Israeli cities. Among the seven Palestinians killed on Saturday was a 6-year-old girl.
“Civilians are disproportionately paying the price of this conflict,” U.N. agencies said in a joint statement sharply critical of Israeli military operations.
The agencies said they were “alarmed by developments on the ground, which have seen innocent civilians, including children, killed, brought increased misery to hundreds of thousands of people and which will wreak far-reaching harm on Palestinian society.”
The agencies said the Karni and Nahal Oz crossings into Gaza from Israel “must remain open 24 hours a day if humanitarian need is to be adequately met.”
The United Nations also called on Israel to repair the damage its bombs caused to Gaza’s main power plant.
Since the June 28 bombing, the entire Gaza strip has been without electricity for between 12 and 18 hours each day, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency said.
The agency said generators that power Gaza’s water wells and sewage pumping plants were running low of fuel.
The World Health Organisation said the public health system was also facing an unprecedented crisis.
While Gaza’s hospitals and 50 percent of its primary care clinics have generators, the stock of fuel to power them will last for a maximum of two weeks, WHO said.
The agency said there has been a 160 percent increase in diarrhoea cases in the last week, compared with the same period last year.
The World Food Programme said wheat flour mills, food factories and bakeries were being forced to reduce production due to power shortages.
Supplies of sugar, dairy products and milk are running low due to limited commercial supplies from Israel.
As a result, food prices have increased by 10 percent in the past three weeks, the World Food Programme said. (Reuters)
Whatever your position on this complex problem, you would have to be heartless not to recognize the pain being inflicted on innocent fellow human beings by this assault. The Israeli government, like the US government in Iraq, is so imbued with the righteousness of its cause and infected with the anger of retribution it cannot hear the cries of those it no longer considers fellow human beings. It will only engender the mirror image response in the Palestinians.
There is no doubt Israel’s military power will prevail here, just as US military power will prevail in any directly confrontation in Iraq. In both cases, however, they will be defeated by their effect on fueling the cycle of violence and counterviolence which undoes every victory and sets the stage for the next battle. At some point one of the parties, with help (not hindrance) from the US, must turn its back on provocation, not out of a sense of virtue but out of a recognition of the obvious: violence will only breed more violence.
Meanwhile, Gaza with its 1.4 million people, is being turned into a Death Camp.