Friday, December 28, 2007
December 28, 2007 1:00 PM
How have things in Gaza changed over the past 12 months? Sadly, there are no rosy reflections to be found here. Things were bad in Gaza this year. Very bad. Whether looked at from a political or purely humanitarian perspective, it's difficult to see the upside where there is such an orchestrated global drive to maintain the status quo: smother until surrender.
The health indicators are telling: about a quarter of essential drugs and a third of essential medical supplies were unavailable in the Gaza Strip in October 2007. Less than half of Gaza's food import needs are currently being met. Fuel reserves are almost at zero after punitive cuts by the Israeli government began last month. And with diesel-run water-pumps unable to function, tens of thousands of Gazans are without access to fresh drinking water. Everything considered "non-essential" has disappeared from supermarket shelves (including chocolates, as one friend half-jokingly lamented).
It is as though depriving a nation of medicines and fuel and freedom of movement and sanity will somehow make them turn against their rulers. And as though providing them with a trickle of "essential" supplies every few weeks is going to exonerate those imposing and supporting the siege. Or sustain the besieged just enough so that they don't wither and die; because somehow, the onus is on them to undo all of this, and they need all the energy they can get.
Gaza's isolation has also come full circle this year. Travelling in and out of the occupied coastal territory has always been an exercise in the impossible, but now, it's no longer an option that can even be exercised, in whatever degree of difficulty.
We Gazans stuck on the outside cannot return to our homes. The noose continues to tighten, even when we thought there was no more room to tighten it.
I was in Gaza through June. My son was with me. When I finished my work there, I left after a gruelling 48-hour journey across Rafah Crossing along with my family, who were coming to the US to visit my brothers. That was the last day Rafah opened this year. Read more
Thanks Guardian for publishing Laila, an articulate voice representative of many Palestinians, and I include myself, a Palestinian Christian. I only mention my religion for those on these boards who play up divisions between Christian and Muslim Palestinians, Hamas and Fatah Palestinians, Diaspora, West Bank, Gaza, and 48 Palestinians (Palestinians in Israel). The Israeli government while abetting divisions, in reality makes no such distinction even managing to "steal Christmas" this year, prohibiting Father Seres Kalkhlisat to return to Ramallah from Jordan.
"The Our Lady of Annunciation Catholic church in the West Bank city of Ramallah cancelled its Christmas celebrations completely, because the priest, Jordanian national Seres Lalkhlisat, could not return to the West Bank from Jordan, where he went to visit his family."
When it gets right down to it, "We're all Palestinians," so poignantly related by this young Palestinian-American in "Blind Israeli Injustice," a story which renders in heartbreaking details the humiliation meted out to those of us who wish to visit the place of our roots.
So refreshing to have a Palestinian voice speaking on behalf of Palestinians here and calling for one state. I really don't know why it's such a horrifying thought for the young immigrants from London and Germany to live next door to our mothers and fathers, now in forced exile from the place of their birth.