Saturday, January 3, 2009

Gaza: food as a weapon, covert genocide

Zionist terrorism reached a new height this week as Israel unleashed fire and destruction on the people of Gaza. Israel has often been blatant and brutal in its violence against the Palestinians, and this latest bloodshed comes as no surprise. But it should not distract from the fact that the Zionist state is also engaged in a war of attrition in Palestine; a war aimed at the slow destruction of the Palestinian people. In this covert genocide, one of Israel’s weapons is food. Gaza is the main the laboratory where Israel is testing this arsenal.

Gaza is basically a large refugee camp where 1.5 million people live in squalor. According to the UN, 75% of the people of Gaza lived in acute poverty in 2003. People in Gaza are poor in the broad sense of the term: they are economically poor; their environment is severely degraded and their access to basic services is extremely restricted. They are also opportunity-poor as their hopes and aspirations are very limited. If you are born in Gaza, satellite TV will bring you images of a world you know you can never be part of.

Over the years, Israel has acted to create and nurture this situation. Its pernicious control of food access and availability is part of a larger scheme aimed at inducing the physical, mental and psychological decline of the Palestinians. As a result, rates of malnutrition in Gaza are among the highest in the world today. According to experts, this will affect the population for years to come.

Since 2000, Israel has been openly curtailing food security in Gaza. It has systematically prevented food aid from reaching the neediest. For example, on November 30, 2002, the Israeli army cold bloodedly destroyed a UN World Food Program warehouse in the Jabalia refugee camp. Stored in it were 537 metric tons of food aid mainly comprised of donations from the European Commission and Sweden. These were to be distributed 41,300 destitute people. The Israeli forces refused to let the WFP employees evacuate the food from the warehouse. It set it on fire, destroying 413 tons of wheat flour, 107 tons of rice and 17 tons of vegetable oil.

In July 2003, Jean Ziegler, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food found that Gaza suffered from a humanitarian emergency with severe malnutrition equivalent to that found in poor sub-Saharan countries. Ziegler was ostracized by the Zionist lobby, although he had used sources such as USAID reports. In just 3 years, the Israelis managed to turn Gaza from middle income into one of the poorest places in the world. In 2003, over 22% of children under five were suffering from malnutrition compared to 7.6% in the year 2000. Around 15.6% of children under the age of 5 suffered from acute anemia, which for many will have permanent negative effects on their physical and mental development in the future. Food consumption had fallen by more than 30% per capita. Food shortages, particularly of proteins, were widely reported. More than half of Palestinian households ate only once per day. Many Palestinians with whom Ziegler met were trying to subsist on bread and tea.

The health impacts of Israel’s food blockade became quickly apparent. In 2004, a survey of Palestinian households showed that malnutrition and associated ailments were growing slowly but steadily. Nearly 10 percent of the populations was suffering from stunting.

Since 2004, the situation has seriously worsened. In February 2007 the British daily “The Independent” quoted a UN report stating that 46% percent of households were "food insecure”. Israel’s use of food as a weapon continued unabated.

In November 2008, The Independent newspaper quoted a leaked report from the Red Cross stating that the Israeli blockade of Gaza has led to a steady rise in chronic malnutrition among the 1.5 million inhabitants. According to the Red Cross, the effects of the siege were devastating and resulted in a dramatic fall in living standards which led to a shift in diet “that will damage the long-term health of those living in Gaza and has led to alarming deficiencies in iron, vitamin A and vitamin D.” Palestinian diet had shifted from fish and vegetable-based to sugar, oil and starches-based. This type of diets is known to induce chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The Red Cross warned the Israeli government and other governments that undernutrition and deficiency in essential nutrients were taking place and that they will affect the long term health of the population.

Mass eradication of the Palestinians is a central tenet of Zionist strategy. Violent massacres of the type we are witnessing in Gaza today is just one of the tactics. The systematic induction of nutritional deficiencies and associated illnesses is another.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the article! I will translate it to Dutch, if that's okee with you. So I can post it on my blog.

Steven -

Rami Zurayk said...

Of course, no problem, thanks for the interest in Gaza