Don’t do injustice to Gaza

Mustafa Barghouti
Thursday 17 Aug 2017

Gazans are suffering power outages, lack of water, and escalating pollution

More than three years ago, Gaza lived through an indescribable inferno due to criminal Israeli aggression, which resulted in the martyrdom of 2,250 people, including 590 children.

Gaza and its people stood fast, despite the sacrifices, the severity of pains and the displacement of more than 450,000 people who lost their homes and properties.

I had the honour of living for long days and nights during this wicked aggression and witnessed the human greatness represented in the solidarity among Palestinians men and women, their insistence on survival and overcoming the obstacles that are difficult for humans to endure.

Three years later, while a third of the displaced lost their homes with unfulfilled promises of reconstruction, the Gaza Strip lives a profound human tragedy. For after a stifling and a criminal siege imposed by Israel 11 years ago, after more than ten years have passed in division and after the escalation of Palestinian infighting, Gaza lives without potable water, as 97% has become polluted and salty, without electricity for 21 hours a day, and with open sewers spreading serious epidemics and flowing into the sea without treatment.

In addition to the water, soil and sea pollution, the air has become polluted due to the use of thousands of generators in order to generate domestic electricity. Hundreds of thousands of poor Gazans cannot afford to buy power because the electricity bill of the generators is four times the ordinary electricity bill.

A number of doctors in Gaza’s hospitals phoned me to give a warning that the dialysis machines will stop due to the power shortages and lack of spare parts. This means definite death of hundreds of patients, and the same will happen to many people due to lack of medicines.

There are more than 1,700 patients; most of them suffer from cancer and are prevented from travelling abroad due to the decline of the remittance system. Hundreds of surgeries have been cancelled, thousands of students cannot complete their studies, and unemployment among graduates exceeds 80 percent. And Israel wants to punish the UN representatives because they issued a warning about a serious human disaster caused above all by the Israeli siege.

Everyone who does not live in Gaza knows the amount of grumbling if the electricity is cut off from homes for a few hours, and West Bank citizens know the meaning of the water outage, as Israel controls its flow to their homes in the hot summer months. What if the electricity shortages continue for years and the fresh water is totally non-existent during the searing summer heat?

Most Gazans have nothing to do with the raging conflict for power, which is escalating every year since the national unity government collapsed in 2007 and the division became entrenched. This is a matter which Netanyahu and his government have not ceased to exploit. Yet it is Gazans and their children who are paying the price.

Israel’s government, which is hiding behind this division, is increasing tightening its siege on Gaza, tormenting its people and attempting to establish its secession from the rest of Palestine. The secession of Gaza is the demographic precondition for annexing and Judaising the West Bank and Jerusalem and entrenching the occupation and the apartheid regime.

Perhaps those who do not care today about Gazans’ suffering due to power and water outages and reduction in salaries, remember the proverb: "never dissociate yourself from your kith and kin."

Maybe they will pay more attention to the waylayers who attempt to exploit this suffering for their own interests and dubious objectives.

Gazans do not deserve this suffering.

Our solidarity and shared compassion as a Palestinian people is the first guarantee of our survival and the termination of the occupation and historical injustice we endure.

Don’t do injustice to Gaza and Gazans by leaving the occupation to entrench injustice in the strip.

The writer is secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative.

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