Wednesday, January 23, 2008

heart breaking news

Gaza is one of the Palestinian Territories on the border between Israel and Egypt and a part of the land taken by Israel in the 1967 war. Conditions these days have continued to worsen because of an Israeli blockade on the area that has not allowed even food and fuel to get into Gaza. Reuters has a good article on the situation here. They also give some good background facts:

HISTORY OF THE TERRITORY:

Gaza has been continuously inhabited for more than 3,000 years. It was a crossroads of ancient civilizations and a strategic outpost on the Mediterranean. The Bible says Samson died in Gaza while destroying the Temple of the Philistines.

It is believed to be the burial place of Prophet Mohammad's great grandfather.

The Ottoman Empire ruled Gaza for hundreds of years until World War One when it came under British rule along with the rest of Palestine. It came under Egyptian control in 1948 during the Arab-Israeli war that led to Israel's creation.

Gaza's population tripled in 1948-49 when it absorbed about a quarter of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees displaced from areas that are now part of Israel.

Israel captured Gaza from Egypt in the 1967 war and ended its military presence there in September 2005, having removed 8,500 Jewish settlers from 21 enclaves after almost four decades of occupation.

Israel resumed ground operations in June 2006 after militants from Gaza tunneled across the border and captured an Israeli soldier, who is still being held.

Just one year later in June 2007, Hamas Islamists took control of the Gaza Strip in fighting with their secular Fatah rivals, triggering the closure of front-line crossing points. Aid agencies warned of growing hardship for ordinary people.

More recently Israel closed its borders with Gaza, cutting fuel supplies to the territory's main power plant and petrol stations and stopping aid shipments that include food and other humanitarian supplies. The closure raised international concern over a potential humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Israel said the blockade is a bid to curb rocket salvoes fired into Israel.

LIVING IN GAZA:

About 1.5 million Palestinians live in Gaza, more than half of them refugees from past wars with Israel and their descendants. Gaza has one of the world's highest population densities and demographic growth rates.

Most Gazans live on less than $2 a day. Israeli security closures curbing cross-border trade and access to jobs and Western sanctions imposed after Hamas came to power in early 2006 have hit the Palestinian economy hard.

Gaza's creaking sewage system became the latest casualty of Israeli sanctions aimed at getting Hamas to halt militant rocket fire from the impoverished territory. Officials at the local Palestinian water utility said more than half of Gaza's population had no running water this week.

Heba of Contemplating From Gaza, one of the blogs I read, wrote an article on her personal experience here.

Last night, someone blew holes in the border wall between Gaza and Egypt, allowing thousands of Palestinians the chance to cross over and get sorely needed food, fuel, and other supplies. Here are two video reports, from Reuters and Al-Jazeera.





Since it took me awhile to find much focus on the situation among American media, I thought I would pass this along.

Peace,
Milton

2 comments:

William "Papa" Meloney said...

Thanks for the excellent backgrounder... NPR did an on-site report this morning about the "shopping spree" but didn't really talk about the circumstances except to remind us that Hamas is in charge of the Gaza strip and that rockets routinely originate from there targeting Israeli settlements - hence the original blockade. Or so says NPR.

Kai Jones said...

For a different viewpoint (and one I agree with):
http://northernva.typepad.com/rubicon3/2008/01/the-breach-in-t.html

Dror pointed out that while Israel cut back some fuel shipments, which he said would mostly affect drivers, the Jewish state continues to supply Gaza directly with two-thirds of its electricity.

The power stations that supply most of Gaza's electricity are located in the Israeli city of Ashkelon, into which Palestinian terrorists have been launching rockets at a furious rate the past few days.

"It is crazy the Palestinians are firing rockets at the stations that fuel Gaza," commented Olmert earlier this week.