Gaza, a concentration camp or not?

Recently, a commentator called ‘IL‘ said this at the end of an article of mine (here) during which I wailed about the crimes against Palestinians.  The comment deserves greater prominence and, naturally, for me to rattle on about my take on matters raised.  The comments first deals with the anti-Arabic t-shirts I’d mentioned as being worn by IDF soldiers, before dealing with other aspects of things I’d said.

The t-shirts were in no way official IDF gear. A few years back some conscripts had some very sick t-shirts printed to commemorate their passing out. The IDF has stopped that.

Gaza is not a concentration camp. It was occupied and then under siege, both of which I thoroughly disgreed with. It is no longer under siege. Goods pass into and out of the Strip daily. Also the Rafah border crossing into Egypt is usually open these days. 

Unfortunately some of the population preferred to invest their time and money in acquiring rockets (mostly from Iran and Syria) and chose to fire a few thousand of them into Israel. That’s happened on and off ever since Israel left the strip and the settlements there. Every so often Israel chooses to respond in order to stop the rocket fire (as one might expect) and immediately gets slapped down by naive Europeans. They squeal about disproportionality but never quite manage to suggest what might be a proportionate response, or what might serve to stop the rocket fire (apart from those pesky Jews leaving the whole country and going back to wherever it was they came from).

None of the above in any way should imply that I am in favor of the current Israeli government. Their sole purpose during the present term has been their own survival. They’ve done absolutely zero to progress the peace process, and in a lot of ways they’ve gone backwards. I’ll be voting for the Meretz party, whose platform is based around reviving the peace process, cancelling the Oslo accords and renegotiating with the Abbas leadership in the West Bank. Google Meretz if you want to know more. They have pages in English.

Chris, I know the situation in Gaza is dire. I know you care about the people there. You’d be surprised that a lot of Israelis would agree with you. But it ain’t a concentration camp there. Nobody is gassing them, starving them, shooting them en masse. It doesn’t help anyone for you to paint the picture as black/white: poor starving Gazans vs evil brutal Israelis. I believe you know that this isn’t the case. 

As you’re such a caring chap, I’m looking forward to seeing your piece about the plight of the Syrian citizens, dying by their thousands less than a couple hundred km from where I’m sitting.

Right then, here’s a few things I’d like to respond with.

Only some goods make it into Gaza.  There are lists of hundreds of things that are not allowed in, including among them the most irrationally prohibited goods like babies nappies.  Most goods arriving into Gaza are deliberately and unnecessarily delayed and held back to ensure Gazans are constantly in short supply of everything.  Goods are not allowed to be delivered via the perfectly serviceable sea border, which, despite not having any connection with Israel, is patrolled by the IDF with a remit to shoot anybody trying to use it. An attempt to deliver medical supplies and essential items of international aid via a ship heading directly to Gaza resulted in mass extermination of those on board, including international media, some of whom were shot for no reason and then not allowed any medical aid and so bled to death.

The Rafah crossing is open, but it is mainly used by human traffic, not goods.  Hopefully this is something that will be rectified soon.  I believe building materials are making their way through at last, but it’s early days.

The Gazans, or Palestinians, argue that their firing of rockets into Israel is as a response to the latest incursions or attacks and harassment from Israel.  Every now and again, Israel does randomly decide to assassinate democratically elected officials, which of course winds up the hotheads who then start firing their not very clever missiles into Israel.  Maybe it’s not helped by lack of sleep.  Nobody gets much sleep in Gaza because of the IDF drones constantly flying around them and over their houses at all hours of the night.  These are of course a modern day version of the watchtower floodlights that were used in prisoner of war camps in the Second World War, watching every move of those held captive within.  I’ve no idea how anybody can ever sleep with that constant noise.  It actually vibrates the houses, so even if you wear ear defenders you can still ‘feel’ the drones.

The problem is that when two tribes are at war, a war that has progressed through generations, it’s very difficult to get much beyond each claiming they are simply responding to the last ‘bad’ thing the other did.  It’s  a constant hubbub of ‘The Goyim started it’ or ‘The Kafir started it’, and each claiming that they are acting under provocation or in self-defence.

However, regardless of who is to blame, regardless of who provoked who, it becomes blatantly obvious that Israel uses completely disproportionate force in its responses, managing to kill Gazans in their thousands.  Imagine if Israelis were killed to the level that Gazans are killed every few years.  Imagine the fear and outcry if the same number of Israeli children as are targeted and killed in Gaza somehow were killed in Israel.  Not that that could ever happen of course, the hotheads in Gaza don’t have access to the fire power.  But, imagine if they did.  Israelis would feel outraged and completely terrified.  Israelis would feel like Gazans do today.

So, it is the disproportionate force that the world objects to Israel using in Gaza.  It is disproportionate.  I’m not sure what is proportionate, but it’s plain to see when it’s gone far too far. The world also hears the officials of Israel when they announce they intend to ‘bomb Gaza back into the Middle Ages’ and it doesn’t seem to be the words of a reasonable, or even sane, leadership simply intent on stopping the aggressive behaviour of a neighbour.

What you think we think here in Europe is somewhat different to what we actually think.  We don’t see the Gazans (the Hamas ones) as good people.  We don’t see the Israelis as good people.  We see them both as caught up in a conflict that will probably never stop.  It’s in the DNA of Jew and Arab to hate each other. It’s what they both do best, and it echoes around the planet with consequences everywhere, pissing the remainder of humanity off.

Mainly, we do see that one side punishes the other every few years with a massive slaughter of children far too young to know why they are being killed.  The side we see doing that is Israel.

But, back to the concentration camp aspect of Gaza.  No direct gassing, maybe, but white prosperous certainly slaughters quite horribly, and gets many many in one go.  Gazans are generally undernourished, which is due to a form of starvation caused by the blockade of essential food supplies.  And, certainly there is a ‘shooting’ en masse as survivors try to run for shelter after their homes have been blown up, and the body count, especially of children, that follows every time Israel decides to head in to punish Gazans, is something that Israel should be ashamed of.  There truly is little difference between the concentration camps of the Second World War and the treatment of those living in Gaza.

And finally, regarding Syria.  When the time comes for me to speak with a grounded level of authority about Syria that’s something I certainly will do.  However, the subject in this instance is Gaza and the disgusting and unacceptable way that Israel treats the people living there.  To try to deflect me from it and on to somewhere else is certainly not a way of fixing the issue, more a method of trying to hide it.  The plight of those in Gaza is no longer something that can be hidden.

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