While the world watches as Obama tries to hold the Syrian government accountable to its war crimes and use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people, it makes me sad to remember the people of Gaza and the white phosphorus that was used against Palestinians in 2008 by the Israelis.
Just before I start, I wanted to show you Gaza on the map. Gaza is the small strip of land that borders with Egypt and Israel and has been separated from the Palestinians in the West Bank.
Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world with more than 1.5 million people living in this small space. What has come of it as an aftermath of Israel’s ongoing persecution makes me very sad and Gaza today has become like one big prison. The Israeli’s have put an electronic fence around its borders to prevent people from going in or out and Israel controls both the airspace and territorial waters surrounding Gaza. More than one third of the people who are able and willing to work are unemployed and most of the Palestinians living there are either subsidized by the Palestinian government in the West Bank, Hamas or by the UN.
The tunnels existing between Egypt and Gaza, where goods would often be channeled into the country are slowly being destroyed and sealed over time for ‘security purposes’. These goods I’m talking about include civilian and humanitarian relief, like medical supplies, food and water. Only a quarter of households receive running water every day and even the ones lucky enough to access running water only have it for a few hours. Water extracted from the aquifers in Gaza is not safe for human consumption – the UN published a report recently saying 90% of this water is actually contaminated and not safe for humans to drink.
The Palestinians in Gaza do not have the opportunity to connect with family and friends in the West Bank, they are unable to look for job opportunities outside of their borders and do not have access to clean and safe drinking water. One of the UN Millennium Development Goals to be reached by 2015 talks about halving the number of people without access to safe drinking water. I hope Gaza becomes one of the areas they succeed in.
Why did I choose to write about Gaza today?
Because I wanted to give a voice to the people living imprisoned within their own borders. Whenever people wonder why there are movements to boycott Israeli products, why Palestinians become emotional and frustrated when talking about Israel and why there is hatred towards Israel in the first place, what happened and continues to happen in Gaza today is a very small example of why.