Besides persecution, repression,
and injustice, deprivation defines life in Occupied Palestine. Essentials
fall way below minimum standards.
Shortages and crises affect water, sanitation, electricity, fuel, and
vital healthcare when most needed.
On March 14, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) headlined,
"Occupied Lives: Switching off hospitals," saying:
Gaza's hospitals, including al-Shifa (Gaza's largest medical complex),
"fac(e) severe difficulties in providing basis services...." As a result,
the right to health and life are undermined. "Such problems have been
a consistent feature of life in the Gaza Strip since the current closure
was imposed in 2007."
Unreliable supply and high cost got Gaza to stop importing Israeli industrial
fuel. Gaza's tunnel economy coped best it could. On February 14, Egypt
curtailed supplies. As a result, a power crisis followed.
Without enough fuel, Gaza's power plant can't operate properly. Vital
services can't function. Drinking water, health and sanitation facilities
In mid-February, the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company shut down.
Around two-thirds of Gaza was affected. Citing unprecedented challenges,
the company said severe complications restricted daily electricity distribution
to six hours daily, followed by 18 hour outages.
Gaza's Health Ministry declared a state of emergency. Hospital generators
lack enough fuel to operate properly. Patient lives and well-being are
jeopardized. During days of Israeli bombing, doctors struggled to cope
with treating wounded patients.
Health Ministry official Bassam Barhoum said:
“The patients most at risk are those in the intensive care unit, the
babies in the nurseries, kidney dialysis patients and those in need
of surgery. Thank God, no patients have died until now."
"However, we face other types of losses due to the electricity crisis.
In the past two weeks generators of 6 basic health clinics across the
Gaza Strip broke. They are simply not built to operate for the amount
of time we need them."
"Generators are made for brief emergencies, of a few hours, only. Besides
that, our generators and other machines are damaged and broken by the
power being cut and returning constantly. Also, the fluctuation in power
levels is harmful to our equipment. Now we lack the spare parts and
oils to maintain the machines.”
Al-Shifa Hospital's Deputy Director of the Intensive Care Unit, Kamal
Abu Obada, deals daily with these problems. "For me as a doctor," he
said, "this is all very depressing. All the time I’m working to keep
the patients alive and when the electricity is cut they are all at risk.
If something happens to them, my efforts were all in vain.”
During emergency periods, surgeries are suspended except for emergencies.
Air-conditioning or heating in winter are cut. Water purification and
laundry services are limited. Hygiene and sanitation crises result.
According to Abu Obada:
“During the state of emergency everything stops. We are not able to
send our patients for surgery, unless it is absolutely necessary. We
have to suspend other forms of treatment as well as tests and diagnostics.”
“The moment the electricity is cut, we rush to the patients and provide
them with oxygen manually using oxygen bags. But we face two problems
in doing this. Firstly, we simply don’t have enough manpower to attend
to all the patients during the cuts."
"Also, it is difficult to control the quantity of oxygen manually, risking
ruptures in the lungs when squeezing too much air out of the bag into
the patient’s lungs. When the power comes back we have to reprogram
all the machines again.”
“When there is a power cut, the heart and blood pressure monitors switch
off. The internal sensors inside our machines are broken by the cuts
which causes the alarms to go off unnecessarily and then for them to
fail to kick in when something is wrong with the patient.”
“Some of our patients are awake and are aware of the power cuts when
they occur. These patients can hear us in those moments and fear for
their own lives and those of the other(s)."
Abu Obada, Bassam Barhoum, and others explain daily siege-caused problems.
As a result, lives are lost. Needless suffering occurs. Israeli denial
of essential to life constitutes crimes against humanity.
Palestinians Denied Water on their Own Land
Vandana Shiva calls water nature's gift, essential to life, limited
and exhaustible, vital to conserve, and a commons for everyone off-limits
Not according to corporate profiteers and Israel. Commissioned by OCHA
(Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) a new UN report headlined,
"Seizure of springs by settlers greatly limits Palestinian access to
Settlers lawlessly seized dozens of springs in Israeli-controlled Area
C. It comprises over 60% of the West Bank. Palestinians are denied access
to their own water. Intimidation and threats confront them if they try.
An Israeli Civil Administration spokesman dismissively said Palestinians
should lodge complaints if they're denied access or violently treated.
Previous attempts fell on deaf ears.
The UN report said most springs are on private Palestinian land. Israel
and settlers work together stealing them. It's done several ways, including
designating sites tourist areas, erecting physical barriers, and annexing
Palestinians can't access their own land for agriculture, drinking water,
or other domestic consumption. According to the Matah Binyamin Regional
Council for 42 settlements:
"For some years now the council is active in developing, restoring and
preserving natural and heritage sites. As part of this process several
murky springs were transformed into accessible sites for the public."
"In some cases, an irrigation system was built for livestock. The springs
are now active tourist sites serving both Palestinians and Jews ...
after dozens of years of neglect."
Israel's Civil Administration said:
"Any building activity in Area C, including the restoration of sites,
including springs, necessitates building permits. In contradiction to
the report, we have recently conducted enforcement activities against
such illegal construction at springs near Elon Moreh and Har Brakha."
"Everyone has the right to approach springs in public areas. If access
to any individual is being denied by any person, that individual should
submit a complaint to the police."
Palestinians trying it attest to its futility. Settlers get carte blanche
to do what they please, including stealing what's essential to life.
Palestinians in one community said soldiers prevent them from entering
areas, except for a few days a year to harvest olives.
OCHA called spring seizures an extension of settlement activity and
expansions. They include "trespass, intimidation and physical assault,
stealing of private property, and construction without a building permit."
It's encouraged for Jews. Palestinians are denied on their own land.
"Yet, the Israel authorities have systematically failed to enforce the
law on those responsible for these acts and to provide Palestinians
with any effective remedy."
OCHA called on Israel to "restore Palestinian access to the water springs
taken over by settlers." It also urged "effective investigations into
cases of settler violence and trespass."
Much more than urging's needed. Measures with teeth are essential. In
45 years of occupation, Israel defied international law, ignored dozens
of UN resolutions, and did whatever it wished with impunity. Nothing
in OCHA's report changes things. Palestinians remain on their own to
A Final Comment
Palestinians are abused many other ways. On March 22, Russia Today updated
a week earlier report headlined, "Israel targets Palestinian solar panels
in bid for West Bank dominance," saying:
If Israel proceeds with current demolition orders, hundreds of Palestinians
will lose electricity. Many call it "an attempt to drive (them) out
of the Israeli-controlled part of the territory" to facilitate stealing
According to Imenizil village head Ali Mohamed Ihrizat:
"We are suspended between heaven and earth. The solar panels were a
glimmer of hope for us."
International charities provided them. Israel says they were built without
permits. No matter. They're on private Palestinian land. In Israeli
controlled Area C, Jews freely expand existing settlements and construct
In contrast, Palestinians face intolerable hurdles to build on their
own land. Over 90% of permit requests are denied. In the past decade
alone, around 2,000 Palestinian structures were demolished, including
Meanwhile, Israel provides settlements with water, electricity, and
other essential services. Palestinians must rely on wells, generators,
and other ways to cope. According to Peace Now:
"The denial of permits for Palestinians on such a large scale raises
the fear that there is a specific policy by the authorities to encourage
a 'silent transfer' of the Palestinian population from Area C" to assure
Jews get all valued parts.
Solar panels were donated to make up for what Israel denies. NGOs built
dozens for 1,500 or more Palestinians. Each one costs tens of thousands
An unnamed UN source said:
"From December 2010 to April 2011, we saw a systematic targeting of
the water infrastructure in Hebron, Bethlehem and the Jordan valley."
"Now, in the last couple of months, they are targeting electricity.
Two villages in the area have had their electrical poles demolished.
There is this systematic effort by the civil administration targeting
all Palestinian infrastructure in Hebron."
Despite a Rabbis for Human Rights legal challenge temporarily freezing
demolition orders, nothing's planned to cancel them. Israeli NGO head
Noam Dotan involved in installing panels calls Israel's plan immoral
"The panels are not a security threat," he said. They represent "a positive
project. What do they want? Do they want the people to be more poor?
To be more violent?"
Indeed, to call them terrorists and drive as many off their land as
possible. That's how police states operate. As a result, millions of
Palestinians suffer unjustly.
Only Jews have rights. Palestinians struggle for justice on their own,
even to obtain essentials to life and survive.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
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