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On Gaza and the horror of the siege

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“We were just obeying orders!”
“There is no defence in obeying illegal orders. Remember Nuremberg?!”
– Fictional dialogue with an Israeli officer

In mid-May, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned of the imminent collapse of the Gaza Strip saying, in a grim statement, that: “The scarcity of energy and the severe shortage of fuel in Gaza have damaged all aspects of life in the Strip…” The statement warned of “looming crisis” in the public health and environment sectors due to lack of energy.

And back in September 2015, the UN warned that Gaza could be “uninhabitable” by 2020. At the time, the report made it clear that Gaza’s GDP had dropped by 15 % in 2014, and unemployment had reached a record high of 44 %, with 72% of households being food insecure! The report concluded that Gaza’s de-development had been accelerated by the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2014.

Some years earlier, Israeli media had revealed that the Israeli military had calculated the number of calories that Gaza’s residents would need to consume to just survive and avoid malnutrition.

And even years before that, Dov Weissglass, advisor to the Israeli PM, had summed up Israeli policy towards the most densely populated area on earth: “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”

Decades of demonizing Palestinians, in general, and Gazans, in particular, have led to their dehumanization and to the proliferation of stereotypes and sweeping generalizations about them such as: “they are weak, sick, dangerous, fundamentalists, terrorists, ugly, black, backward, poor, uncivilized…etc. The decades-long slow genocide inflicted on them and their incremental death, therefore, is NOT registered by the world’s conscience!

As much as Apartheid Israel tries to normalize this “incremental genocide” and takes every possible measure to justify it, the world must stand up against it by heeding the BDS call made by Palestinian Civil Society. We fully understand that the deliberate withholding of food or the means to grow food or the access to food in whatever form is yet another strategy of  Israel’s occupation, colonization, and apartheid in Palestine and, therefore, should be viewed as an abnormality, even a pogrom!

But, what we in Gaza cannot fathom is: Why it is allowed to happen?!

Haidar Eid

Haidar Eid is Associate Professor of Postcolonial and Postmodern Literature at Gaza's al-Aqsa University. He has written widely on the Arab-Israeli conflict, including articles published at Znet, Electronic Intifada, Palestine Chronicle, and Open Democracy. He has published papers on cultural Studies and literature in a number of journals, including Nebula, Journal of American Studies in Turkey, Cultural Logic, and the Journal of Comparative Literature.

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4 Responses

  1. JosephA on May 25, 2017, 7:17 pm

    Dear Haidar,

    Your guess is as good as mine! The only people making a public stink about Gaza (besides BDS activists and sites like this) appear to be the courageous flotilla organizers. Thanks for sharing. May the Gazans be allowed to live in freedom some day.

  2. yourstruly on May 25, 2017, 10:17 pm

    Gaza and the Warsaw Ghetto

    same place
    different times
    while the world stands by

  3. Elizabeth Block on May 26, 2017, 8:20 am

    Maybe it’s because Gaza is the living avatar of Israel’s bad conscience, since most Gazans are refugees or the descendants of refugees – from 1948 and later.

  4. Misterioso on May 26, 2017, 10:51 am

    For the record:


    The International Committee of the Red Cross: “The whole of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility. The closure therefore constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, ratified by Israel, bans collective punishment of a civilian population.”

    “In practice, Gaza has become a huge, let me be blunt, concentration camp for right now,
    1, 800,000 people” – Amira Hass, 2015, correspondent for Haaretz, speaking at the Forum for Scholars and Publics at Duke University.

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