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2 THE ROVING
EYE Welcome to Planet
Gaza By Pepe Escobar
is one of the most scandalous instances of
collective punishment anywhere in the world in
recent times. And what is the response of the
high-minded "international community"? It's the
standard "three monkeys" - willfully deaf, dumb
This Thursday, the Israeli
cabinet's decision to declare the
8-kilometer-wide, 23km-long, arid Gaza Strip a
"hostile territory" has started to be translated
by facts on the ground. The Israel
Defense Forces have begun
"gradually" to cut the supply of fuel and
electricity to the 1.5 million population, one of
the highest densities on Earth, 50% of them
already living under the poverty line, 50% of them
under-15s, 33% of them refugees.
about 200 megawatts of electricity; 120 come from
Israel; 65 are produced in Gaza; and only 17 come
from Egypt. Israel says supply to generators at
Gaza's hospitals will not be affected.
There's more to come: a trade ban, no
freedom of movement, no visits to prisoners in
Israeli jails, an overall hardcore financial
squeeze, and sooner rather than later, another
military onslaught. As the Israeli daily Ha'aretz
so nicely put it, this is just a "plan to limit
services to civilians".
Nobody will get
in. Few, if any, will get out. If someone wants to
go to Gaza, the only way will be via Egypt.
This comes on top of other "restrictions"
already in place. No fewer than 200,000 kids went
back to school in occupied Palestine this
September - just like millions of other kids
around the world. But they had nothing apart from
their textbooks because the State of Israel deems
paper, ink, ballpoint pens and binding materials
not to be "fundamental humanitarian needs".
It was up to AMIN (Arabic Media Internet
Network), Ramallah's information site, to put
things in perspective. Ramallah is in the West
Bank. The West Bank is "friendly". Gaza is
"hostile". So West Bank residents can now "thank
God for having escaped this collective punishment"
- even though they still have to contend with
walls, curfews, military incursions, arbitrary
arrests and a thousand checkpoints.
Residents of the "hostile entity",
according to AMIN, will closely follow the example
of the "friendly entity", where walls and blast
walls still bloom. The (good) point is to have
been classified as "friendly"; "It's better being
half 'enemy' than being it full-time, it's more
comfortable being half deprived of electricity and
fuel, it's better being half exposed to air raids,
it's more benign to be half destructed than
AMIN also points out that
Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah government in the West Bank
can always blame Hamas' government in Gaza for
this sorry outcome. Then the "secular" will win
over the "Islamists". But there's still a choice
to be made. Gaza, full of shame for being branded
an "enemy", may succumb to Israel's dictates. Or
the West Bank, full of shame for being branded
"friendly", may fight Israel's dictates.
Conclusion: "What's worse under occupation, to be
an 'enemy' or to be a 'friend'?"
now for the monkeys While this was being
announced, US President George W Bush's Sunni Arab
allies in the "axis of fear" - from Saudi Arabia
and Egypt to Jordan, Kuwait and the Persian Gulf
petromonarchies - had better fish to fry, from
taking over almost half of the London Stock
Exchange (Dubai, Qatar) to turning the screws on
internal repression and fanning the specter of
"the Persians". "Classic" al-Qaeda (not the diet
Iraqi brand), through resident oracle Ayman
al-Zawahiri in person and Osama bin Laden's voice,
was more interested on its new video-op calling
for a jihad against "infidel" Bush ally President
General Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan.
was up to a lone, meek United Nations Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon to urge Israel to "reconsider"
its decision - which once more is "contrary to
Israel's obligations towards the civilian
population under international humanitarian and
human rights law" (as if that other occupying
power, the US in Iraq, was giving a damn to the
suffering of the Iraqi civilian population). Ban
should have also explained what "hostile entity"
means in international law: nothing.
Israeli strategy is to bring down the
"quality" - non-quality, rather - of life in Gaza
to unbearable levels, thus sabotaging any attempt
by Hamas to govern the Strip properly. The crude
Qassam rockets fired over Israel - the apparent
reason for the blockade - are not even fired by
Hamas, but by al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades, for
instance, connected to Islamic Jihad. The actual
blockade anyway comes on top of any further
military incursions, soon to be decided by Israel,
according to the Israeli press.
subscribes to everything. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice - who is right in the middle of
intense lobbying for a US-sponsored, and already
discredited, November peace conference -
incredibly said that Hamas "is indeed a hostile
entity. It is a