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.”