Siege on Gaza as the U.N. runs out of food

One has to read between the lines of the usual “balance” in this piece (below) — suggesting parity between the starvation of a civilian population and the rocket fire from Gaza — to see that what is taking place is the medieval technique of laying siege to a population and starving them.  But whereas in medieval siege warfare the purpose of starving a civilian population was to make them capitulate and to rule over them, the last thing the Israelis want is to resume direct control over (and hence daily responsibility for) the beleaguered civilian population of Gaza.  So this seige is not a means but the end in itself of Israel’s “Gaza strategy.”

Starvation is, of course, in this day and age subject to strict prohibition under the laws of war (which include the laws governing foreign military occupation) since it fails the first test of humanitarian law — distinguishing between civilians and combatants.  But to the Israeli tactician’s eye, perhaps all Gazans are enemies at some fundamental level.  And so a total blockade on Gaza, which excludes from Gazans even the passage of food and humanitarian aid through United Nations channels, continues to the deafening silence of the watching international community.

Against their own record of war crimes, the Israelis are afforded not only impunity but a generous hearing as the “victims” of purported Palestinian offenses.  So the UN closes shop and leaves the 750,000+ Gazans dependent on UNRWA food relief with no options and the world continues to blame the victim.  At least in this part of the world, hope and change are just two more empty slogans and two more commodities denied to Gazans starving under Israel’s siege.
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UN closes Gaza aid centers, citing lack of food

By DIAA HADID, Associated Press

Sat Nov 15, 3:56 pm ET

SHATI REFUGEE CAMP, Gaza Strip  Gazans seeking food aid walked away empty-handed from locked United Nations distribution centers Saturday after a strict Israeli border closure depleted U.N. food reserves.

Israel sealed Gaza’s borders nearly two weeks ago as part of a new round of fighting with Gaza’s Hamas rulers. Hamas rocket fire on Israeli border towns and Israeli air strikes on Gaza militants have eroded a truce that had largely held for five months.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Israel to open the crossings to humanitarian aid and condemned the rocket fire on Israel. Measures that increase the suffering of Gaza’s civilians “are unacceptable and should cease immediately,” he said in a statement.

Two Palestinians were killed in disputed circumstances in northern Gaza.

Palestinian Health Ministry official Dr. Moawiya Hassanain, citing reports from local medics, said the two were killed by an Israeli airstrike. However, the military said Israeli forces were not involved and in the
past, militants have sometimes been killed by Gaza rockets that fell short or exploded early.

The Popular Resistance Committees, a small militant group, said one of its members was killed. The identity of the second man was not immediately known.

In the Shati refugee camp near Gaza City, hundreds of people walked away empty-handed from a U.N. food distribution center Saturday. A note taped to the center’s blue gate said handouts were put off until Dec. 13 “because of a lack of food to distribute.”

In all, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency distributes food to some 750,000 Gazans, or nearly half the territory’s population. The needy get a new parcel of rice, flour, sugar and oil every three months. On Saturday, some 20,000 Gazans were to pick up food supplies, U.N. aid officials said.

Itaf Yazji arrived at the Shati distribution center Saturday, only to find it locked.

“What shall we eat now?” said the 54-year-old mother of five, who also cares for a disabled relative. Yazji said she had been waiting anxiously to pick up food because her family ran out of rice and flour.

… (Read the rest at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081115/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians)

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