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
- Since March 30, 2018, Gazans have confronted the occupying forces each Friday, in the Great March of Return. Over 250 Gazans have been killed, and thousands injured. Here’s a great reflection on the meaning of the protests. Read the UN’s independent international commission report on the protests, which found “no justification” for shooting unarmed protestors with live ammunition. Read Medecins Sand Frontiers’ reporting on the pattern of protestors’ gunshot wounds here https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/what-we-do/news-stories/news/gaza-thousands-people-shot-during-protests-require-urgent-treatment Or https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190125-msf-doctors-struggle-with-bones-pulverised-by-israel-bullets-in-gaza/
- UNRWA briefly describes the blockade and projects its effects here: https://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/press-releases/gaza-2020-liveable-place It finds that Gaza may be unliveable by the year 2020.
- Al Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network, examines the compounding effects of occupation and climate change here.
- Gisha is an Israeli NGO that studies access, mobility, separation and other blockade issues.
- B’Tselem is an Israeli NGO that studies the Occupation’s impacts on human rights.
- The World Health Organization focuses on Gaza’s medical services and health.
- The World Bank Ad Hoc Committee reports regularly on Palestine and on the Gaza Strip. They also monitor reconstruction following the 2014 war.
- OCHA reports on broad range of issues relating to the protection of Gazans, and their wellbeing.
- See this summary of the present electricity crisis in Gaza.
- See some facts about the Occupation’s impact on water in Palestine.
- Read the ICRC (Red Cross) statement on fifty years of occupation, and the importance of International Humanitarian Law.
- The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Rights, S. Michael Lynk, reports twice each year on developments. The second half of each report examines one issue in depth.
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.”
- Young Gaza sings and breakdances and does parkour. Its Happy video went viral.
- Gaza has a diverse visual arts community, including traditional, modern, political and graffiti arts. Browse through the listings of the Eltiqa Gallery to find several.
- The IT and start-up cultures are strong! See, for example, the Gaza Gateway that I co-founded, or the start-up accelerator, the Gaza Sky Geeks.
- Search Amazon for Gazan short stories or follow the We Are Not Numbers project as Gazans write the first-person stories of life in Gaza.