beginning of siege

/State terrorism/
/closure (FR)/
/destructions (FR)/

BEFORE August 2005

/check points/

April 2004

Entry Denied


Palestine Art





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GAZA under siege


mirador - Gaza 2005 - © CUP

The so-called "withdrawal" from Gaza is in reality only a vast media bluff, a successfull communication operation. While all cameras of the world focussed on Gaza settlers (forgetting to mention that those evacuated settlements were illegal), in West Bank colonization extended its tentacles at high speed during the same period.

It's true, 8'000 settlers have been evacuated, 21 settlements destroyed, thus liberating around 25% of this land that had been stolen for 38 years. The first advantage for Gazans is at last a freedom of movement inside this tiny piece of land (360km2), freedom which was before strongly hindered by checkpoints and so-called "security zones". Crossing the 30 km separating Gaza-city from Rafah was before evacuation a long journey that could last for days, and full of risks (at the mercy of the israeli snipers' mood) and full of humiliation...

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see maps :
> BEFORE "withdrawal "
> AFTER "withdrawal"

> read: "Cinderella in Rafah" - Graham Usher - 23-09-2005

But the price to pay for this minimal freedom of movement (slightly enlarged cage) is high: Israel has kept total control over all borders of Gaza Strip; land borders with Israel and with Egypt (Rafah), as well as sea border and total control over Gaza aerial space. Concerning transit Israel decided that only the checkpoints of Eretz (towards Israel) and Rafah (towards Egypt) serve for persons; and all other checkpoints (Karni, Qarara, Sufa) are used only for the transit of goods.



Mur de Rafah - gaza 2005 ©CUPThe Agreement with Europeans concerning the border with Egypt (Rafah) is just another media bluff. Indeed some Europeans Observers are present permanently at the custom office on Palestinian side, but they are only fake actors backing the fact on the ground: all data on travelers crossing this border go through the computers of israeli army before getting from them the green or red light. Israel assumes the right not only to control the movements of Palestinians, but as well of international visitors.

Palestinians getting out of Gaza Strip have to ask for a preliminary autorization and they are never sure to be allowed to come back. Furthermore welcoming foreign visitors depends on israeli's goodwill. The rules in these matters are often changing (preliminary autorization required or not, working with a NGO or not, etc), and decisions are very arbitrary. Even humanitarian workers (small NGOs as well as big organizations like ICRC or UNRWA) and diplomats sometimes have great difficulties in getting these autorizations to enter Gaza Strip and at the border they too are often subject to searchings, questioning and humiliations from the israeli soldiers at Eretz checkpoint.

> read: "Entry denied: Deporting witnesses of Israeli occupation and unilateralism" - Maureen Clare Murphy 11-07-06
> "The Great Gaza Border Deal" - Ramzy Baroud - 23-11-05

Moreover Rafah border being very often closed for very long periods (blockade strategy) many Palestinians are frequently stuck at the border on egyptian side (where they are not allowed to move freely) or in the no man's land separating the two customs posts.

Despite "disengagement" Gaza remains a huge open-air prison. A prison without visiting right, and in addition to the control of borders, whole Palestinian daily life is under israeli total control (every official document is issued by the State of Israel: ID cards, birth certificates, and so on...). This "disengagement" that pretended to be a liberation, bears in fact the marks of a hidden but still implacable and real occupation.

> one example among others: "Palestinians stranded at Rafah border assisted, Red Crescent says" - irinNews UN - 12-07-06

Another big advantage of the eavcuation of the settlers: it allows israeli occupation forces to use new weapons against Gazans, like sonic boom air raids to terrorize the population. This prison serves as well as a laboratory, meanwhile the big media bluff perfectly works as almost everyone believes that Gaza is « free »...

passage d'Eretz - Gaza 2005 ©CUP

> "The Gaza Strip as laboratory" - Darryl Li - June 06


State of Siege

In addition to strongly hindering the circulation of persons, Israel controls as well totally the circulation of goods entering AND exiting Gaza Strip (Karni, al Qarara, Sufa passages), subjecting completely Palestinian economy.

All Palestinian exports are subject to israeli autorizations (favouring of course products which are not competiting its own production). Moreover the slowness of customs controls,bateaux de pêche immobilisés - Gaza 2005 ©CUPthe frequent blockade of Palestinian goods for security pretexts are strongly hindering the trade from Gaza abroad. Likewise imports suffer from similar controls and frequent blockades at the borders, under security pretexts, thus provoking big increase of prices, penalizing not only the companies but as well the whole population of Gaza Strip. Since the beginning of 2nd intifada Gazan farmers and firms have been facing huge financial losses, sometimes up to bankruptcy because of these hindrances: truckloads of goods rotting at the border, lack of raw materials, impossibility to export the final products, and so on. Huge financial losses affecting not only the farmers and firm directors, but affecting the employees as well, who were already very vulnerable.

No autonomy granted to Gazans, not even economic autonomy. Subjection of entire economy aims at making Palestinians more and more dependant on the exterior, and turning them into slaves of international generosity. Refugees - in 2003 they were around 900'000 among the total of 1'300'000 inhabitants of Gaza Strip - refugees have always been the most fragile population: deprived of resources and with extremely reduced possibilities of work, piling up in overcrowded camps (Jabalyia sadly a world record of density with 120'000 persons on 2km2, in 2002). Many among them are totally dependant on international help brought by UNRWA since 1948 (naqba); whereas according to international law the occupying power SHOULD provide this support... With economical strangulation set in place for more than a decade, Israel's strategy aims at making Palestinains' life precarious and tying them up with this humiliating dependency.

> "Left to Rot in Gaza
Strip's Economy Suffers as Trade Passage to Israel Remains Sealed"
- Scott Wilson - 19-03-06

> "Fishermen suffer naval restrictions" - IRIN 17-09-06

> "PCHR Warns of the Consequences of the Continued Closure of Al-Muntar (Karni) Checkpoint" - PCHR - 30-01-06

Since January 14, 2006, an infamous total blockade has been imposed by Israel, provoking shortage of basic goods (milk, flour,...) and of medications and humanitarian emergency material, with severe health consequences for the whole population; when its level of infantile malnutrition was already scandalously high. According to the report of Jean Ziegler, UN special reporter on the Right for Food, in 2003, 22% of children under the age of 5 years suffered malnutrition and 60% of Palestinians were living under the poverty treshold. These frightening statistics date back to 2003, imagine Gaza situation now after more than 6 month of blockade! Economic, health and social consequences are huge and will leave long term after-effects.

Mur de Rafah - Gaza 2005 ©CUPSince Hamas was elected in the Palestinian governemnt (January 2006), in addition to Gaza blockade a financial embargo (bank transfer blockade) was imposed by Israel with the benediction of western so-called civilized countries, guardians of justice and human rights. Together with the raw and simple stealing of taxes that Israel owes to the Palestinian government. Clever manoeuvre depriving tens of thousands of state employees from their salary, and penalizing the rest of the populations as well from any external help (bank transfer from abroad, projects financed by NGOs, etc), while the closure and siege of the Strip has turned them already totally dependant on this external help...

This policy of economical strangulation, middle-age besieging starving civilians, represent an inadmissible collective punishment and is contrary to international law. But nevertheless reactions are rare, the accomplice silence of internaitonal community is frightening and brings an additional weight on the moral of Palestinians...

> " Gaza closure choking Palestinians" - Leila el-Haddad - 03-02-06
> "Collapse of the Palestinian Health System" - PHR - 10-05-06
> "Gaza Strip Situation Report" - OCHA - 04-07-06

> "Palestinians cope with salary delay" - Motasem A Dalloul - 27-05-06

Not to mention that during the whole period of siege, bombings and shellings happenend almost daily at high intensity, killing and wounding several innocent civilians (between June 25 and July 30, 2006, more than 150 civilians killed only in Gaza Strip, among them 33 children); terrorizing the weakest and imposing additional traumas onto this hungered, emprisonned and forgotten population.


State Terrorism

vestiges de tanks - Gaza 2005 ©CUP

In addition to the closure inside this open-air prison (the biggest in the world) and to the suffocating siege, Israel has been applying state terrorism for a long time:

  • arbitrary confinement of Palestinians including children, without charges nor fair trial;
  • torture almost systematically used against the detainees;
  • psychological pressures and blackmail on the prisonners' families and relatives;
  • illegal demolitions of private (homes, cultivated land, and so on) and public (schools, ministries, and so on) properties and infrastructures;
  • targetted assassinations (extrajudicial);
  • indiscriminate bombings with prohibited weapons (cluster bombs, white phosphorus, and so on) spreading death and casualties among innocent civilians and terrorizing the entire civil population;
  • economic suffocation, besieging and starving the entire civil population.

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> concerning the definition of State Terrorism:
intervention à la Sous-Commision aux droits de l'homme en 2003 - CETIM et AAJ (in french)

> on Palestinian prisoners: addameer (english - arabic)

> on Home demolitions: l'ICAHD (english - arabic - hebrew)

Gaza 2005 - © CUPFor a long time, bombings have been frequent on Gaza Strip. Before the "withdrawal" (August 2005), the presence of settlers on this tiny piece of land prevented the israeli army to exaggerate bombings, as the noise could disturb the settlers. But since their evacuation, the frequency and intensity of bombings have increased a lot, and as a bonus Israel could try a new terrorizing weapon: sonic boom air raids. These sonic booms are used mostly at night, terrorizing the population especially children who then suffer from sleeping disorders added to all the other heavy traumas they have been accumulating since a long time.

On June 28, 2006, Israel started a new large-scale attack on Gaza, allegedly to save the captured soldier, devastating in a few days many infrastructures of Gaza Strip: bridges, roads, electric power stations, ministries, and so on, depriving the population from electricity and tap water, taking in hostage several members of Parliament (democratically elected), spreading terror and death among the Palestinian civilian population already besieged since months.

The same strategy was then repeated a few weeks later in Lebanon (from 12 July 2006 on): under similar pretext of 2 captured soldiers, israeli army completed in short time the total destruction of all civilian infrastructures of the country, the land and sea blockade, adding to it heavy bombings on innocent civilians, hindrances to fleeing civilians and emergency staff, use of prohibited unconventional weapons (white phosphorus bombs...), and so on. while lebanese civilians were not at all responsible for the capture of these 2 soldiers (even though one could justify an attack of such an extent and intensity for such a small pretext...)

Israeli State Terrorism is a powerful and effective machinery, after experimenting in Gaza prison-laboratory Israel exported the receipt to Lebanon, and it works... The little reactions of international community is not a good omen for the future...

> on psychological traumatisms:
Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (english - arabic)

Rafah - gaza 2005 ©CUP

After the total destruction of infrastructures, daily terror and blockade imposed on an already fragile population (majority of refugees); what will be the next stage in horror in Gaza? and in Lebanon? and maybe elsewhere...







texts: mirouille - 7 August 2006
pictures: 17th swiss civile mission - October 2005











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