Palestinians of Gaza -- Under Israeli Blockade, Suffering Egregiously from Disastrous Effects of War -- Awaiting Support from the West
By: John Mason / Arab America Contributing Writer
Palestinian rights groups have pressed U.S. Senators to compel Israel to report on the Israeli blockade’s negative impacts on Gazan citizens. As a result of the Israel-Gaza war, Gazan Palestinians have undergone extreme damage to their health and well-being. The special coordinator for the Middle East peace process of the United Nations has weighed in on the need in Gaza for humanitarian efforts and an easing of access and movement restrictions for people and goods.
Rights groups press U.S. Senators to compel Israel to report on blockade’s negative impacts and on proposed solutions
Gazan citizens have suffered immeasurably from the earlier springtime war with Israel. Injuries from the Israeli bombings have been horribly physically disenabling and mentally disruptive to families. As a result, dozens of non-governmental organizations have urged U.S. Senators to support an amendment of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requiring Israel to report on the impact of its blockade, along with recommendations for resolving the blockade’s impacts.
Palestine’s usual good friend, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, once more came to the rescue, proposing the NDAA amendment. This amendment, according to Middle East Eye (MEE), “would require the US comptroller general to submit a report to Congress assessing the economic, humanitarian, political and psychological impact that Israel’s restrictions on movement and access are having on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”
The NDAA would report on recovery and reconstruction in Gaza. This includes the rehabilitation of hundreds of Gaza war victims who are at risk of amputations, often death. Worth noting is that alongside Israel, Egypt has also maintained its own blockade on Gaza since the 2007 Hamas organization launched its authority over that territory.
Extreme damage to Gazan Palestinian health and well-being in need of attention.
Extreme damage to Gazan Palestinian health and well-being in need of attention
More than a dozen hospitals and clinics were destroyed during the 11-day bombing campaign, which destroyed more than 1,000 residential units. Roughly 97 percent of Gaza’s drinking water is contaminated, and residents are forced to live with constant power outages due to a heavily damaged power grid.
Gaza is afflicted not only with war injuries as well as critical food and medical supplies issues, but is suffering from a 50% unemployment rate. According to another MEE report quoting an Arab source, “The proposed Gaza amendment is a milestone in overdue recognition that America’s unconditional military and political support for Israel has helped enable the imprisonment and suffering of millions of Palestinians.”
Impacts of Israel’s blockade include an increase in PTSD, mood disorders, and other stress-related conditions. One example is a Gazan shot by an Israeli sniper during a peaceful protest, whose injury, he complained, “opened the door of hell” for him. One-third of Gazans are purportedly in need of psychological help according to Gaza’s Department of Mental Health.
It is reported that during the protests in Gaza of 2018-19, 316 civilians were killed and almost 36,000 injured. During those Israeli attacks on Gazans, purportedly the word heard on the street was of soldiers telling one another, “shoot to maim,” thus creating “a generation on crutches in Gaza.” An exaggeration or a sense of psychological pain experienced by many? Certainly, lots of both.
United Nations weighs in on Gaza situation
The special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, with offices in Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Gaza is part of a peacebuilding effort of the UN. Specifically, it supports “peace negotiations and the implementation of political agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.” Importantly, it coordinates more than 20 UN agencies’ work on the ground in humanitarians and development assistance.
The so-called Quartet of UN envoys to the Middle East noted “the pressing need to address the fragile situation in Gaza — with the support of all relevant stakeholders, including in the region — by ensuring continued humanitarian efforts and an easing of access and movement restrictions for people and goods.
The envoys have underscored the “urgency of the situation,” including its continued espousal of the two-state solution. The UN officially supports respect for human rights and the importance of civil society among Palestinians and Israelis. However, it has not addressed the improbability of a Palestinian state balkanized by Jewish settlements, controlled by Israel’s military, now part of Israel’s occupied territories, which would possess the character and integrity of a jerry-rigged mess.
–“Dozens of rights groups urge US senators to report on Gaza,” Middle East Eye,11/18/2021
–“Gaza: ‘Collective shock’ of traumatic events sees mental health cases soar,” Middle East Eye, 10/24/2021
–“Quartet Envoys Press Statement,” The Office of the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East Process, 11/18/2021
John Mason, PhD., who focuses on Arab culture, society, and history, is the author of LEFT-HANDED IN AN ISLAMIC WORLD: An Anthropologist’s Journey into the Middle East, New Academia Publishing, 2017. He has taught at the University of Libya, Benghazi, Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, and the American University in Cairo; John served with the United Nations in Tripoli, Libya, and consulted extensively on socioeconomic and political development for USAID, Department of State, and the World Bank in 65 countries.
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