Before Gaza Explodes

  • 13 April 2008

Palestinians have been putting up with extremely difficult living conditions in the Gaza Strip for the past two years. In fact, Israel has held on Gaza in its vice-like grip for the last ten years, which has had a crippling effect on all aspects of life in the territory. The siege has dealt a debilitating blow to the industrial sector of Gaza, leading to the closure of 97% of its approximately 3,000 factories. Unemployment rate has risen by 65%, as over 80% of the population in the territory finds itself below the poverty line. Recent escalation of “fuel crisis” has raised fears that the Gaza situation could explode out of control. It is shocking to note that over 85% of Gaza’s transport has to come to a standstill, while the remaining is expected to grind to a halt in a few days. About 60% of ambulances are currently out of service. Most of the water wells have either gone dry or are not operational. Shortage of water points to an impending humanitarian disaster and to an imminent large-scale destruction of the agricultural sector. Back-up generators in all hospitals and clinics will not be able to compensate for the frequent power cuts for long, as fuel stocks are running out. Wastewater treatment plants in Gaza have already shut down, as about 40 million liters of untreated wastewater is currently being dumped directly into the sea. This could cause a major humanitarian and environmental disaster.

The picture is very grim indeed. Despite the fact that Gaza is reeling under this incapacitating situation, there is little international response to this crisis. The perpetuation of the Israeli siege in the Gaza Strip, has raised fears of an imminent explosive situation. Undoubtedly, the extremely bleak humanitarian situation should force all sides into playing their required role. Obviously, Arab and Islamic countries should play their part in support of Gaza. The deteriorating situation in Gaza should also push Palestinians into overcoming their internecine disputes and confront the danger posed to Gaza as well as the fundamental challenge currently facing the Palestinian cause.

Lifting of the blockade should be a Palestinian, Arab, and international obligation, which should coincide with the activation of a Palestinian rapprochement, with a similar activation of the Arab and Islamic role at the official and public levels. Again, with the help of the international community, Israel must be forced to end its siege that violates Geneva Conventions IV and various other provisions related to human rights and international law.