Great reporting on effects of siege in Gaza

John Lyons of The Australian has a great report in tomorrow’s paper about the nuts and bolts of how Israel’s siege kills the most vulnerable of Gaza’s citizens.
He chronicles the political problems that prevent five-day-old Seraj Abu Jarad from getting the prostaglandin that he needs to survive:

    IT’S hard watching a baby slowly die. He’s only five days old and you can see how hard his little chest is thumping. He seems to be fighting to stay alive.
    It’s 9.24 on Wednesday morning this week and he has only 36 minutes of guaranteed life left.
    After that, he’s on his own. He’s got a heart problem and needs a medication that would be available in any hospital in Australia.
    Gaza doesn’t have any more prostaglandin. It can’t get through Israel’s and Egypt’s blockade of the strip of land…
    Another baby near him is dying too. Her name is Noor Taha and she’s 34 days old. Both her kidneys are failing and doctors need to do a CT scan before they know exactly how to treat her, but a tube has broken on the CT machine and the hospital hasn’t been able to get the tubes into Gaza.
    Unlike Seraj Abu Jarad, Noor Taha’s cloudy little eyes are open as she tries to focus.
    One doctor says her condition is critical, very bad. The hospital cannot send a request for her to enter Israel until it has an accurate diagnosis and it cannot do that without a CT machine. So Noor Taha is dying, too.
    Another girl, aged nine, may die as well. Because of a lack of equipment, her lymphoma was not diagnosed early enough for effective intervention.
    Once it was diagnosed, the hospital tried to get her into Israel for treatment of a disease that is usually manageable.
    It took seven months for Israel and the Palestinian Authority [in Ramallah] to process her paperwork, during which time the tumour grew and spread into her lungs…

Lyons tries to apportion the blame for these children’s suffering, as follows:

    Israel’s blame surely must be for allowing so few medications and medical equipment into Gaza. Hamas’s blame must come from its prolonged period of firing rockets into Israel, which led to the blockade almost four years ago. And Egypt can be blamed for its refusal to allow the sick and dying to enter the country for treatment, a ban lifted only this week…

I would disagree with this apportionment of blame a little. The blockade was imposed not in response to Hamas rockets but to Hamas’s victory in the January 2006 elections. (At that point, Hamas and Fateh had both been observing a Palestinian-side-only ceasefire along the Gaza-Israel border for several months.)
I would also, certaonly, assign considerable blame to all those other states– with the U.S. at their head– that colluded with Israel in the maintenance of the siege. Also, Egypt has done a lot more to maintain the siege than merely refusing to let sick Gazans enter Egypt for treatment.
Lyons also writes this:

    It’s generally accepted now — even by Israel — that Hamas has halted rockets.
    The war of last year wrought such terrible consequences for Gaza and its 1.5 million people that more retaliation is the last thing Hamas wants now.
    “We have declared a unilateral ceasefire,” senior Hamas political adviser Ahmed Yousef tells Inquirer in an interview in his Gaza office.
    “The priority now is how to take care of our people after the war.”

10 thoughts on “Great reporting on effects of siege in Gaza”

  1. It’s so easy for US commentators to have elephantine memories for things like Hamas rockets, but no memory for the ordnance Israel has been unloading on Palestinians for decades, not to mention the never-ceasing land stealing.

  2. Petty, sadistic, and clearly racist, this Israeli punishment of Gaza’s children would be impossible without the enthusiastic support of the US government.
    It really is a terrible thing that a nation, which maintains itself in a permanent tizzy over the issue of abortion, can contemplate the passing of Seraj Abu Jarad with such complacency.
    It might be noted that this report appeared in a newspaper owned by the same firm that runs Fox TV, the Wall Street Journal and the NY Post.
    No doubt they will be picking up the story soon.

  3. Epppie, I don’t even think it’s a ‘memory’ in any recognizable sense of the term. It’s more like an oft-heard, oft-reinforced meme that just gets stuck in people’s heads: “Israel has to maintain the siege to guard against the rockets which would otherwise surely be flying in uncontrollably.”
    I was speaking to a group in Northern Virginia recently, and one questioner went on and on about the “Hamas rockets” and I simply asked him when he thought the last such incident had been. He was completely flustered and (duh!) couldn’t answer the question.
    It’s not like people who use this meme have a clear memory that “There was a Hamas rocket attack six weeks ago”, or “in mid-May”, or “wasn’t there one just around Christmas?”, or even that they’re able to quote from any of the statistics that the Israelis themselves put out about the incidence (or non-incidence) of rocket attacks. No, they simply have the meme “Hamas rocket attacks” in their heads. It has nothing to do with any actual perception and recollection of facts.

  4. Helena,
    We should not be surprised at a lack of clear memory of when was the last rocket. When it was occuring it was happening with such frequency that it ceased to become “news”. When was the last rocket? Do you know off the top of your head? I suspect not, again it’s too frequent to be big news.
    You seem to think everyone is just wrong who thinks “Israel has to maintain the siege to guard against the rockets which would otherwise surely be flying in uncontrollably.” So try to prove it otherwise. You can’t. The sad truth is to be found in Lyons statement that you quote “The war of last year wrought such terrible consequences for Gaza and its 1.5 million people that more retaliation is the last thing Hamas wants now.”
    The rockets didn’t stop because of a change of heart by Hamas. And as soon as Hamas decides it is their interest to let the rockets fly again, they will.
    Last question. Why did the hospital not try to get the girl into Egypt?

  5. Live births per woman in Gaza average 3.5 today, down from 7 (6 in the West Bank) in 2000. That’s quite an effective way of decreasing the “demographic threat,” Palestine’s “WMD.” Putting Gazans “on a diet” that would be strict enough to “make them thin but not kill them,” as most women and health professionals know, can lead to amenorrhea — a condition that affects many athletes, ballet dancers, and anorexics, rendering them infertile. If it were not Israel perpetrating this crime, it would be called by its proper name: genocide.

  6. Come on David,
    Stop victimize the Israelians : how many of them have been killed by rockets during the Gaza war ? and how many Palestinians, including civilians ? It is clear that the few rockets fired by the Hamas serves the Israelian propaganda very well. But the fact that Israel is using disproportionated means to defend itself is there for every one to see and has been demonstrated in the Goldstone report.
    The Gaza blocus is part of the same Israelian policy and its humanitarian consequences are there for every one to see : we know who the victimes are, the rest of the world knows it and in the coming months there are more ships planned for Gaza. I hope that the solidarity will work and that in the end the Gaza blocus will have to be lifted.

  7. We should not be surprised at a lack of clear memory of when was the last rocket.
    We should not be surprised at a lack of clear memory of when was the last war crimes Israiles doen in Gaza David!

  8. I assume Christiane that you have no problems with walking outside in a thunderstorm. After all how many people are actually killed by lightning considering the number of lightning strikes every year.
    You might take up Golf. Courses generally empty out very quickly. You would have the place to yourself.

  9. About 2,000 people are injured by lightning strikes around the world each year. In the U.S., between 9-10% of those struck die. (Wikipedia)
    In Gaza, 3000 missiles in 10 years have killed less than 25 Israelis. (Wikipedia)
    Ten Year Score: lightning ~2000, qassams ~25
    No comparison.

  10. tjallen,
    Abolute numbers don’t mean anything here. You need to compare rates.
    According to your numbers the fatality rate for lightening is about 0.03 per million (world pop about 6,000,000,000). Death by missiles from Gaza 4.16 per million (Israel pop about 6,000,000). That’s using the whole population of Israel. Since the rockets fall only in the south the rate goes up dramatically.
    Even if we adjust for the 10 years of Gaza rockets we still have a death rate from Gaza rockets over 100 time higher than lightening.
    Of all the arguments from the anti-Israel pro-Palestinains side this one that rockets from Gaza are harmless and could be ignored is just the most irrational and absurd.

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