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Gaza: The dramatic consequences of the other Israeli war

Translated Tuesday 5 September 2006, by Henry Crapo

Palestine: Murderous daily strikes accentuate the deterioration of the socio-economic situation, which creates an almost unmanageable context for the Palestinian Authority.

Arriving in some twenty tanks and armored vehicles, the Israeli soldiers opened fire, without warning, on the house of a local officer of the Hamas, Younes Abou Dakka, forty years of age, in the locality of Abassan (southern Gaza), killing his brother Youssef, forty-two years old. Captured, Younes Abou Dakka swells the ranks of 64 Hamas leaders, 8 of whom are ministers of government, and 29 deputies, arrested since the beginning of the operation Summer Rains, which began on 24 June in response to the capture of soldier Shallit by an armed Palestinian group.

Since that date, and in an almost universal climate of indifference, 187 Palestinians have been killed, including 43 children and 10 women. Of the 175 wounded, the majority are civilians, and many are in serious condition. Among them, there are 194 children, 26 women, and 4 journalists. Every day that passes the Israeli army makes murderous intrusions, their F16 fighters or helicopters bomb presumably terrorist sites, civilians are harassed, intimidated, and humiliated in front of their children, and the inhabitants are forced to evacuate their homes, which the Israeli military proceed to raze to the ground…

Behind the scenes of this macabre accounting, bearing in mind that only the violent deaths make headlines, there lies a reality much more preoccupying, the socio-economic deterioration of the West Bank and Gaza resulting from the blockade imposed by Israel, coupled with the suspension of international financial aid to the Palestinian Authority, ever since the victory of the Hamas in the Palestinian legislative elections. Consequently, no annual budget has been prepared for 2006. Concretely, this means that 165,000 civil servants have not received their salaries since the month of March 2006. The accounts of the Palestinian Authority have been credited with 142 million dollars by Arab countries, this permitted a one-time payment of only 330 dollars, a half salary, to Palestinian civil servants. Since then, nothing. For this reason, beginning yesterday, there is a popular demonstration in Gaza, to be followed by a two-day strike of public sector employees, demanding payment of their salaries. These employees threaten the Hamas government with an unlimited hunger strike starting 2 September if their demands are not met.

What is more, in Gaza as well as in the West Bank, there continues an energetic colonization of lands, destruction of crops near check points manned by an army of occupation, under the pretext of "security measures", destruction of workshops for industrial fabrication or repair, which "might serve" in the making of bombs, or the pulverization of electric generating plants, as in Gaza, thus depriving of energy the inhabitants and their hospitals. All this, against a background of draconian restrictions on the circulation of merchandise, including medecine and health products. Rapidly, pauperization gains ground in a region where unemployment reaches 40% of the active population, and where, according to a United Nations report, 70% of Palestinians live under the poverty line, on less than $2 a day.

This aggravation of the socio-political situation is accompanied by a veritable paralysis of Palestinian institutions, due to the warlike Israeli repression, and in an atmosphere of inter-Palestinian tensions (armed confrontations between the Fatah and Hamas, gaining in intensity), which produces a gradual erosion of the Palestinian Authority. What is worse, the loss of confidence on the part of a great number of Palestinians in the peace process and negotiated settlements. Even the Hamas, despite being well implanted in Gaza, no longer manages to control the situation. Witness the hostage taking of two American journalists for Fox News, which led to an intervention by the prime minister, Ishmaïl Haniyeh, to demand their liberation.

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