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About the Gaza Strip, Palestine

 

Here are some sources of information about Gaza, the blockade and its effects on Palestinians’ rights and quality of life behind the walls.

1.  Is Gaza Occupied, and, is the blockade illegal?  If so, what are Israel’s obligations?

The legal status of Gaza helps to determine which laws should be applied to its protection and conflict.  Israel argues that the withdrawal of settlers and soldiers from the physical territory of Gaza in 2005 ended the Occupation of Gaza, and Israel’s responsibilities as the Occupying Power. 

The current United Nations Human Rights Council annual report on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) disagrees.   B’Tselem, an Israeli NGO offers a shorter, accessible summary of Israel’s obligations.  OCHA adds a timeline of the blockade, starting with the Gaza perimeter fence in 1995.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, wrote in 2019: 

The relevant body of international humanitarian law, including the law of occupation applies in toto to the Palestinian territory: the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza…. While acting as the temporary occupant, among Israel’s most important legal duties is to respect and preserve the fundamental rights of the protected population under international law

Here is a simple, brief outline of the obligations of an Occupying Power, from the ICRC (Red Cross).

 

2.  Blockaded Life

3.  The Policy of Occupation

  • The Red Line Policy counted and restricted the calories of food that were permitted to enter the Gaza Strip.  This policy helped motivate the construction of Gaza’s tunnels.
  • The Separation Policy holds the two halves of Palestine apart, with profound human consequences.
  • Al Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network, is a think-tank for Palestinian analysis.  See, for example, this article on the importance of finding the right framework for understanding the Occupation.
  • The UN-ESCWA report on apartheid, withdrawn but still in circulation, asks whether the Occupation fits the legal criteria of the 1973 international convention on the crime of apartheid.  This report assesses the legal criteria of apartheid; distinct from the more emotive use of the word ‘apartheid’.

4.  Living fully in Gaza

Gaza is a community, not just an object of Occupation policy!  Many Gazans choose to live and create, as Viktor Frankl described:  “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”