Sunday, November 30, 2008

Can Gaza and Sderot make common cause?

From Nadia Hijab reprinted by the Institute for Middle East Understanding:
The Palestinians of Gaza and the Israelis of Sderot are on two sides of a very wide divide. Yet an end to conflict would benefit both. Is there a way they can make common cause?

Much is known about conditions in Sderot, a pilgrimage for visiting Western dignitaries concerned about Israel's security. But little is known about the conditions in Gaza, perhaps least of all in Israel.

The people of Sderot might not be able -- or want -- to visit Gaza. But they could still find out what is going on in the besieged territory. For example,
  • Heavy rains at the end of October left many Gazans waist-high in water, sewage and garbage and swept away several houses in another sign of the Strip's ruined infrastructure. Last year a flood of sewage killed five people.
  • The Israelis never gradually lifted the blockade even though this was reportedly part of the Israel-Hamas agreement. The UN, responsible for feeding one million Palestinians in Gaza, has no reserves to call on. So even when Israel allows in a few trucks of food, the cupboard stays bare. And fishermen in Gaza waters have been arrested and their boats impounded, cutting off that source of sustenance.
  • The Red Cross just issued a damning report chronicling the rise in chronic malnutrition due to Israel's blockade. This can damage children for life. People are reportedly milling animal feed because there is nothing to eat
Israel has banned journalists from the Strip, making it harder to report conditions first-hand. Top leaders from the Associated Press, Reuters, the New York Times, ABC, BBC, and CNN, among others, filed an unprecedented protest with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Collective punishment is against the law and can constitute a war crime. Do the inhabitants of Sderot -- or any Israeli Jewish citizens -- really want such crimes committed in their name? Do the Palestinian, Arab, European, or American authorities? Does the world? Especially when it has been demonstrated that a ceasefire works?
Read the entire article here >