Saturday, November 19, 2005

Why Gaza is still Occupied Territory

Gaza is still occupied. We heard it from a Gazawi (Gazan), the Director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), Raji Sourani. He was supposed to meet with us in Austria as part of the Euro Mediterranean Human Rights Network's 'Working group on Palestine/Israel', but because no Gazawi can currently leave Gaza, we had to settle for a teleconference with him.

This is what Raji had to say:

The Occupation remains and Gaza is completely disconnected from the West Bank and Al-Quds (Jerusalem). Israel maintains complete air and land control (in spite of the fact that there is no physical army presence on the ground).

Mainstream media talks about Gazawis now having the chance to step up to the plate and prove themselves. But here is the de facto situation on Gazawi ground:
- Lives of Gaza's inhabitants still completely controlled.
- Israeli navy presence just 10 metres from Gaza's shores.
- 3-5 kms from border, Israel fires sonic bombs as a method of intimidation.
- Political assassinations commonplace by Israeli apaches. Since the disengagement and until November 13, 2005 - 17 such killings.
- The Rafah border crossing is totally sealed.
- Unemployment in Gaza used to stand at 66% - today it is more. 81% people under poverty line – facing real economic, social, political strangulation.
- Israel decides what Gazawis drink, eat and wear. Very frightening.
- Buffer zones exist in the north and west; the army will shoot and kill any movement in that area.
- Gazawi fisherman can’t even go to the sea.
- There are 985 kilo bombs parked 360° around Gaza.
- Israel has been able to achieve this ‘withdrawal mirage’.
- However, the reality is very different and is not promising on any level.
- 1.4 million people are caged in. And nobody seems to see that.

He added:

- 7,000 settlers evacuated – which is great. But it’s business as usual. Remember, the withdrawal wasn't about the Palestinians; it was about a military presence that was working out too costly for them.
- Israel has marketed the Disengagement smartly; so much so that they can reasonably convince the Europeans to work with them on Israeli security.
- Israel is manufacturing another Bin Laden in Gaza by continuing their present practice in the region.

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