Our West Coast correspondent Seham writes:
Several months ago, ministry officials approached the United Nations to consult with them about their dietary plan for the Gaza Strip. The UN officials - as one might guess - politely told them to go to hell, refusing to have anything to do with such a policy. The Israelis then turned to a Health Ministry dietician, whose advice might have led to the present policy according to which, as Israeli officials have stated, "the minimal requirements for the sustenance of Gaza Strip residents are being observed without inflicting a humanitarian disaster."
But this diet is neither a new mechanism to subjugate the Palestinian population nor is it retaliation for the capture of that Israeli soldier--whose name shall go unmentioned in the same way that the 11,000 Palestinian detainees are unmentioned. The Israelis simply took an already horrifying situation and made it worse. A report published in 2003 documented Palestinian malnutrition rates in Gaza as equal to those in the Congo and Zimbabwe. Back then, Palestinians were subsisting on less than $2.00 a day, which was already below the UN poverty line.
From the report:
Responsibility for the current humanitarian crisis rests principally with Israel's military occupation of the Palestinian territories. But the foundations for impoverishment were laid long ago. Starting with an already poor agrarian economy, Palestinians have seen the promise of a secure future stripped away - by the progressive loss of land from 1948 onwards and by successive military incursions marked by violence, land occupation and the subordination of the Palestinian economy to the Israeli economy. The Oslo Accords of September 1993, despite the great hopes surrounding them, failed to deliver significant change, as has the Palestinian Authority. Attention given by the Palestinian Authority to poverty eradication - even allowing for the destruction of its infrastructure - has been notable by its absence. Frustration, despair and disillusionment - especially following the failure of the Camp David talks - were partly the result of the slide into deeper poverty after 1993.
So contrary to Israeli propaganda, this "diet" had been in place years before Hamas took power in Gaza and that soldier was captured. Here, a different report from 2003 further illustrates the fate of Palestinian children during the years before Hamas controlled Gaza:
Jean Ziegler, Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights on the right to food, has issued a report after touring the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in July. Mr. Ziegler said 9 per cent of Palestinian children under the age of five suffer some form of brain damage because of chronic malnutrition caused by the Israeli occupation.
It'd be nice to see any of the major news outlets in the U.S. report on the conditions in Gaza prior to the siege, instead of mindlessly parroting Israeli talking points.