OPINION: Punishing Gaza

Where does it end?

Much of Gaza is once again in darkness, as Israel cut off the fuel to its only power plant. Hospital patients have reportedly died, communications are out, and movement and commerce in an already beleaguered economy have come to a near halt.

Michele Mercier, spokesperson for the the International Committee of the Red Cross, said Gaza hospitals still had medications “but it won’t last for more than two or three days.” Now, Gazans must also contend with the possibility of already scarce food supplies being cut off. Christopher Gunness of UNRWA, the UN relief agency, said the agency could be forced to suspend food distribution to 860,000 people because of the shortage of fuel and plastic bags.

The New York Times, always to be counted on to provide the right euphemisms, reported that “Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, ordered a temporary halt on all imports into the Hamas-run Gaza Strip late last week. The measure, along with stepped-up military operations in Gaza, was meant to persuade Palestinian militants there to stop firing rockets at Israel.” (Isabel Kershner, “Fuel Shortage Shuts Gaza Power Plant, Leaving City Dark,” 21 January 2008.)

Terms like “measures” and “persuasion” sound so gentle. But they cover up a brutal reality that Israeli leaders are keen to boast about: they are acting with premeditation to inflict suffering on the Palestinian civilian population, and they display an extraordinary degree of callousness for their victims. [complete article]

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