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Rights org: Gaza situation potentially disastrous
by via the Electronic Intifada
Monday Jan 21st, 2008 7:26 AM
Monday, January 21, 2008 :At approximately 8:00pm on Sunday, 20 January, the Gaza Strip power plant ran out of fuel and shut down, plunging the Gaza Strip into darkness. The closure of the Gaza power plant, in addition to Israel's continued, tightened siege on the Gaza Strip, will have a catastrophic effect on the 1.5 million residents of Gaza, who are already suffering chronic shortages of fuel, medicine and some basic food stuffs.
The director of Gaza's main hospital, al-Shifa, describes the current situation as "potentially disastrous."

Israel is manufacturing a catastrophic humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip that is seriously deteriorating every aspect of civilian life. To date, 45 patients have died as a direct result of Israeli Occupying Force (IOF) closure and siege of the Gaza Strip. According to the Director of al-Shifa Hospital Dr. Hassan Khalaf, patients' lives continue to be at stake, including the lives of 30 premature babies in al-Shifa Hospital, who will die immediately if there is a power cut at the hospital. Gaza's second major hospital, the European Hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, has now suspended all major surgical operations.

Meanwhile, all crossings from Gaza to the outside world remain sealed to Palestinians.

The Gaza Strip requires 230-250 megawatts of electricity a day to operate at full capacity. On Friday, 18 January, and again on Sunday, 20 January, the IOF prevented a vital daily delivery of fuel from passing through the Nahal Oz Crossing, including industrial diesel used to fuel the power plant. The power plant is now completely closed. This closure of Gaza's only power plant has drastically reduced electricity output across the Gaza Strip by 65 megawatts. Civilians across Gaza City and the central Gaza Strip are totally dependent on the power plant. The closure of the power plant will severely impact civilian lives across the Gaza Strip.

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§Economic warfare in Gaza
by via the Electronic Intifada Monday Jan 21st, 2008 7:26 AM
Monday, January 21, 2008 :No more lies or twisted tongues. Israel is saying at last what, in the past, it always refused to acknowledge: its war is against the Palestinian population. Until now, in discussions about the separation wall, closures, blockades, house demolition, and other sorts of collective punishment, the State Attorney's Office lacked the gumption to admit in court that the aim of such measures is to harm civilians.

It always came up with convoluted security claims in order to present some vital military necessity for the sake of the War against Terror. Harm to the population was described as a regrettable side effect.

But now a Rubicon has been crossed. This happened after ten human rights organizations petitioned the High Court on 28 October 2007 against cuts in the supply of electricity and gasoline to Gaza. The petitioners claimed that the cuts amount to collective punishment, which is forbidden under international law. The state might have answered that the cuts are a necessary military measure aimed at stopping the production of Qassam rockets. Or it might have tried some other tongue twister. But no. In their response to the petition, Dana Briskman and Gilad Shirman from the State Attorney's Office announced openly, without blinking an eye, that the cuts' main purpose is to exert pressure on the economy as a way of influencing Hamas.

Thus the state clamps the arteries of life for 1.5 million Gazans and describes its action as an economic war

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§What Bush left behind
by via the Electronic Intifada Monday Jan 21st, 2008 7:26 AM
Monday, January 21, 2008 :Since US President George W. Bush's visit to this part of the world, at least 38 Gazans were killed and another 1,500 were injured as a result of Israeli military attacks. This escalation of violence came right after Bush's trip to Israel and Ramallah, as Israel enjoyed an obvious green light from the US as the Arab and Islamic world sat by and watched.

For anyone who might believe that Bush's visit would improve the lives of Palestinians in general and of Gazans in particular, let me assure you that the opposite has occurred.

Electricity cuts still plague Gaza. Ambulance sirens wail one after the other; the smell of death is everywhere. Gazans have no life anymore, and Bush and Israel are to thank.

On Wednesday a 27-year-old father, his nine-year-old son and his brother were all killed in an Israeli air strike. Israel said that the incident was an error. Such a mistake ended the lives of three innocents civilians from the same family.

I'm wondering, how can can I, or any father in Gaza, guarantee his own family's safety? We are all targets, no matter if we are civilians or combatants. And who will be held accountable for there crimes? The answer is as clear as ever: no one.

A few days ago I came home from work tired, and then I took a nap. I wake up at 6:00pm to find everything dark, no electricity as usual, and my infant son was crying. I took my wife and son for a drive around Gaza only to find Gaza City in total darkness, a ghost town.

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