Thursday, March 22, 2007

U.S., Israel join forces to starve Palestinians

Oh say can you see, what a bunch of dirtbags we are....
3/22/2007 1:00:00 PM GMT

(Reuters Photo) Palestinian child stands near a tent at a refugee camp

By:Tarek Khalili

A coalition of European, American and Israeli forces has decided to starve the Palestinian nation.

As a result of the unjustified cut of international aid that followed the official rise of Hamas with the Palestinian legislative elections in January last year, and the economic sanctions Israel imposed on the extremely poor population, the Palestinians were left to suffer the worst ever rates of poverty.

Israeli sanctions included the monthly theft of $50 million in tax revenues collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, on which the PA depends for at least 30% of its budget. Withholding such amount of money affected the salaries of approximately 140,000 teachers, nurses and other civil servants, as well as the 60,000-some members of the Palestinian police and security forces.

Sanctions also included enforcing severe security checks on the few Palestinians allowed to enter Israel for work, and baring Israeli companies from doing business in Palestine.

To sum up, Israel adopted measures that severe economic ties, which while benefiting Israel, allowed Palestine's fragile economy to teeter rather than topple.

United international efforts, comprising of Israel, the U.S., and European states sought to isolate Palestine from the world, further destabilize Palestine's already weak government, and to remove it from the international network on which it depends.

Last year, the United Nations issued a report painting a bleak image of the situation in Gaza and the entire occupied Palestinian territories, warning that the Palestinian population is facing a humanitarian catastrophe, due to lack of food and the inability of the UN to deliver food to families.

It also said that about 9% of Palestinian children under age five suffer from malnutrition-induced brain trauma.

It painted a sad picture of the impact of the economic sanctions imposed against the Hamas government of the Palestinian Authority (PA) by the United States and the others, including Britain.

The House of Commons International Development Committee has published a report describing the situation in Palestine.

Among the report’s findings was the fact that the real GDP declined by 9 percent in the first half of 2006 and was predicted to fall by 27 percent by the end of 2006, with personal income falling by 30 percent.

The report also said that at least 70 percent of the Gazan workforce is unemployed or doesn’t get paid, and 51 percent of the Palestinians have become dependants on food assistance (a 14 percent increase on last year)

The report also said that about 160,000 public sector workers have not been paid since March last year, affecting the lives of 25 percent of the population.

According to the report, infant mortality in Palestinian has risen to 25.2 per 1,000 live births, and under-five mortality has reached 29.1 per 1,000 live births. It also warned that Palestinians have become unable to pay hospital fees, and, as a result of closures imposed by Israel, non-payment of salaries which led to repetitive strikes by staff, the supply of medication and equipment couldn’t be delivered to assist Palestinians.

The average number of births in Hebron is believed to be about 600, the report said, but last September, only 100 babies were delivered in public hospitals, while 200 others at private or NGO hospitals, and three hundred others were home deliveries.

The report also said that 25 percent of Gaza’s residents do not have sufficient access to water. As a result of the destruction of Gaza’s power plant by Israeli bombardment in the offensive the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) launched last June, access to water has been further reduced, badly affecting hospitals and resulting in noticeable increase in diarrhoea, particularly among children under three.

But the Palestinians’ sufferings are unlikely to be lifted even after the formation of a new government, which, shortly after being set up, Israel called on the world to boycott it.

The Palestinians hoped that the formation of the new Fatah-Hamas alliance would lead them out of international isolation.

But Washington quickly began to answer Israel’s calls, and is likely to be followed by other European states, who’ll be pressured to follow the suit.

The U.S. announced yesterday cutting funds it used to send to the security forces of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, arguing it fears the money might reach the hands of Hamas.

The move was described by many analysts and political experts as the beginning of a similar move Israel, joined by the U.S. and Europeans, took last year to isolate the Palestinian government.

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