Six common misconceptions about Gaza that are so 2011

In sixth place: “The civilian closure has been lifted and only security restrictions remain”.

Gaza is not as isolated from the rest of the world as it was a few years ago, but it is still cut off from the West Bank and it’s hard to find convincing security reasons why. For example, Israel prohibits students from traveling from Gaza to the West Bank – individual security checks are not even an option because the ban is sweeping. Israel does not allow goods from Gaza to be sold in the West Bank or Israel, while at the same time allowing exports from Gaza to Europe to be transferred through its own airports and seaports. It also imposes restrictions on the import of building materials into the Gaza Strip. The impact is felt mainly by international organizations rather than the local government, which gets all the cement, gravel, and steel it needs from the tunnels. Ongoing restrictions make it difficult for Gaza’s economy to recover, but they also split families apart and impede Gaza residents’ access to higher education and the opportunity to acquire training in a number of highly needed fields.

In fifth place: “Israel gives Gaza money, electricity and water”.

True, Israel does give Gaza residents electricity and water. That is, if by “give” you mean “sells”. Israel also does not “give” money to Gaza’s residents – it does transfer tax monies it collects on their behalf, although sometimes with great delay.

In fourth place: “The Palmer Report concluded that the closure was legal”.

The Palmer Commission decided not to examine the legality of the overall closure of the Gaza Strip and determined only that the naval blockade imposed on Gaza was legal. In its report, the commission included a recommendation for Israel to continue easing restrictions on movement “with a view to lifting its closure and to alleviate the unsustainable humanitarian and economic situation of the civilian population”.

 

And one wishes to move to the West Bank? Rafah crossing, 3.30.2005. Photo: PHR

And one wishes to move to the West Bank? Rafah crossing, 3.30.2005. Photo: PHR

In third place: “Gaza has a border with Egypt, so Egypt should take care of the Strip”.

Six months ago, we posted the top ten reasons why the opening of Rafah Crossing just doesn’t cut it. The list is still valid, but here’s the gist of it: Even if Egypt fully opens Rafah to movement of people and goods, this would still not provide a solution for the problem of movement restrictions between Gaza and the West Bank. The desire to push Gaza onto Egypt and therefore make it possible to cut the Strip off from the West Bank is a common one, but its implementation would entangle Israel legally and politically.

In second place: “Israel disengaged from Gaza and all it got was Qassam rockets”.

Firing Qassam rockets on civilians is an unjustifiable war crime. This much is clear. We should keep in mind that the rockets didn’t start after the disengagement from Gaza and that four and a half years of closure have done nothing to reduce the threat of rockets being fired from Gaza into Israel – but don’t take our word for it.

As for disengagement, Israel did remove its permanent military installations and civilian settlements from the Gaza Strip, but did this really end Israeli control over Gaza? Try asking a Palestinian from Gaza if she feels that Israel has really “disengaged” from her life. She wouldn’t think twice before responding in the negative. Israel controls her ability to study in the West Bank, export goods, fish, farm her lands and visit relatives. True, it’s hard to imagine control of a territory without permanent military presence on the ground, but this is exactly Gaza’s unique situation today.

And in first place: “Gaza’s residents voted for Hamas so they had it coming to them”.

Hamas’ victory in parliamentary elections in 2006, shortly after the “disengagement” was met with surprise. Withdrawal from Gaza didn’t bolster those in support of the peace process as many in Israel had expected. Today, more than five years after the elections were held, they are still used as an excuse for the closure.

First of all, it is important to stress that international law prohibits collective punishment of a civilian population and for good reason. Past experience has taught that civilians, irrespective of their political convictions, must remain “off limits”. This principle must be upheld in Gaza, in Israel and in all other places in the world facing conflict.

While we’re on the topic of the elections, and to be accurate, the elections Hamas won were not held just in the Gaza Strip but also in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. It was more than a year after the elections, in June 2007, that Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip.

No elections have been held in Gaza since 2006 and the debate between the various political movements in the Strip has been ongoing. One way of following this debate is through polls, such as those published by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. For example, a poll from December 2011 shows that if elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council were to be held now, Hamas would get 35% of the vote and Fatah 43%. It’s worth recalling also that over half of Gaza’s population is below voting age. How can children be blamed for the outcome of elections in which they didn’t take part?

Can you think of more misconceptions? Comment below.

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15 Responses to Six common misconceptions about Gaza that are so 2011

  1. Pingback: PALESTINE NEWS | Jan 5, 2012 | Occupied Palestine | فلسطين

  2. Congratulations on a serious approach to the siege on Gaza. The propagandistic speech heard from some groups is intolerable especially when it makes reference to the Cast Lead Massacre as a Holocaust. This would be an additional point to clarify. There is however a further major point to address which is fundamental and that is the agency by which the siege is carried out. It is not only the State of Israel that carries out this blockade, it is also Egypt and it is still Egypt in spite of the advances made in the Arab Spring. To consider it an Israel siege or an Israeli siege is unduly targeting one source when in fact it is two agencies that are responsable. This is not a conflict of Peoples — Jewish and Palestinian; Israel does not represent the Jewish People, both demographically and politically

  3. A further item of interest in reference to the siege on Gaza is that there is also a blockade over the sea coast offshore Gaza that is under the occupation of the Israel navy forces for the reason that there is a resevoir of natural gas under the sea bed that Israel claims for its sovereignty. As a result Gaza fishermen are not allowed to seek fish further than 5 kilometers from the coast, resulting in a lack nutrition for the Palestinians there as well as the theft of their natural resource.

  4. Kamal Hassan says:

    All we hear is the firing of rockets by Hamas. first of all, most rockets have been fired by other Palestinian factions.
    Themisconceptionn in the West, is that Palestinians firing rockets at Israeli civilians daily for NO REASON. Fact is, it is Israel who’s been firing much moremissiless, F16 attacks, boarderincursionss, tank firing at innocent Palestinian farmers, gun boats attacks on innocent Palestinian fishermen, and on and on daily. Point is Palestinian rocket firings is aresponsee to daily Israeli attacks on Palestinians in Gaza, not the other way around. Israel is much more Superiorr that many advanced countries in the world, Israel has over 200 Nuclear weapons and other WMDs. So the blame should be directed at the aggressor, occupier Israel, not Palestinian resistance. People under occupation have every right to resist and rid themselves of that occupation period…..

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  6. AbeBird says:

    The siege on Gaza is justified and proper, as long as Hamas governmet sendng suicide bombers and rockets on Israeli civilians. You might say what ever you want, but you shpuld know that Islamic aggressive always encountered with proper respond. Israel is entitled to block the Gaza-Hevron way as long as the Islamic Arabs use terror. Israel can stop letting goods flow from Israel to Gaza if it good for Israeli interests.

    I reject dr. abraham Weizfeld that says that” Israel does not represent the Jewish People, both demographically and politically”, but to the contrary, Israel is the only Jewish state and she represents the Jewish people. Most of the Jews demographically and politically support Israel’ loe Israel and see her as their spiritual home, not to mention all the religion issue. Few Jews, that accept the very idea that there should be one people on earth that are inferior to the others, oppose the notion of Zionism. They are self hating Jews that ignore that fact that Israel already exists and strong enough to encounter her enemies so very succesfuly/ Jews always been hated through history, even by few Jews from inside.

    • Monique Buckner says:

      There has not been a suicide bombing since 2004, I believe. This is due to agreements between Israel and the Palestinians. The article states that the siege has not stopped the rockets and that it is illegal in the first place because it collectively punishes a population made up of hundreds of thousands of children. To use the term ‘Islamic aggression’ is misleading because this is not about religion- it is about land. I agree that every person is equal therefore Zionism cannot be accepted as it ignores the rights of the Palestinians to their land. Israel is breaking international law and then claims to represent Jews- as criminals!

    • Luke says:

      When was the last suicide bomb?

      How much ordnance has israel fired into Gaza in the past 10 years?
      (I can guarantee that it is far, far , far more than has been fired by the Gazans and much more lethal)

  7. Jabo says:

    Readers should find the following “Hamas Quiz” quite informative: http://www.countercurrents.org/rudolph250610.htm

    The ease with which the Western mainstream media demonizes Hamas is one part of a much larger problem: Israel’s brutal occupation of OPT.

  8. Pingback: Six more misconceptions about Gaza (the international edition) | Gaza Gateway | Facts and Analysis about the Crossings

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  10. To AbeBird;

    Two-thirds of Jewish people do not live in Israel and do not want to either. These Jewish people do not have a vote in the Israel elections and so the government of Israel does not represent them by any means. As for a religious identity, a majority of the Orthodox Chasidim, Satmar etc. do not give their allegiance to the State of Israel, that is why they do not serve in the military in Israel and why they do not go to Jerusalem from elsewhere!

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