Sunday, 7 March 2010

Israel Matzav: A parade of Euroweenies to Gaza?

A parade of Euroweenies to Gaza?

Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin just completed a visit to Gaza and wrote an op-ed in the New York Times' International Herald Tribune. You can bet that Hamas did not take Martin to any of the places pictured below. For the record, with the exception of the coffee shop picture, all of the other pictures were taken on November 25, 2009, well after Operation Cast Lead. So are they starving? It sure doesn't look like it.

From my arrival in Gaza, the deprivations and hardships resulting from the blockade were all too evident. Visiting an UNRWA food distribution center, I could see for myself the despair and suffering etched in the faces of those who queued for the most basic rations of rice, milk powder and sunflower oil. Eighty percent of the population of Gaza now lives below the poverty line and UNRWA is encountering increasing levels of abject poverty where people basically do not have enough food, even with their meager food allocations, to live.
I was similarly struck by what I heard from a business group at the Karni industrial park. This group of predominantly young businessmen and women graphically described the devastation that has been wrought on the private sector in Gaza, an economy that is now only operating at some 10-15 percent of capacity. Over a thousand companies have gone out of business since the Israeli Army’s Operation Cast Lead in early 2009. Unemployment now runs at over 50 percent.
For the record, the Karni Industrial Park stopped operating because of continuing attacks by Hamas against the Karni crossing point into Israel upon which it depended.

What I witnessed in Gaza, amidst all the rubble and devastation still so evident from last year’s conflict, was a population traumatized and reduced to poverty by an unjust and completely counterproductive blockade. All that is being achieved through the imposition of the blockade is to enrich Hamas and marginalize even further the voices of moderation.
I'd be very careful about saying that the 'blockade' is counterproductive. It looks like it's starting to bear some fruit.

These are the clear messages that I will be bringing when I travel to Córdoba next weekend to meet with E.U. High Representative Catherine Ashton and my fellow E.U. foreign ministers. The European Union and the international community simply must do more to increase the pressure for the ending of the blockade and the opening of the border crossings to normal commercial and humanitarian traffic.
There's plenty of commercial and humanitarian traffic going through the crossings. What's not going through the crossings is terrorists and materials that can be used to build rockets. I don't look for that to change regardless of what the EU says in Cordoba.

I genuinely believe that the medieval siege conditions being imposed on the people of Gaza are unacceptable. I am also all too conscious that somewhere within Gaza, now enduring his fourth year of captivity, is the young Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, and I equally repeat my call for his speedy release and return to his family.
Equally? How many paragraphs did you devote to Shalit and how many to the 'Palestinians'? Where in your op-ed is Shalit? (Answers - One paragraph for Shalit, the 11th out of 13). Talk about lip service.

For those who have forgotten, just last week, the UN itself pronounced that there is no 'humanitarian crisis' in Gaza.
United Nations Middle East envoy Robert Serry, who met with President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem on Wednesday, said, “There is no humanitarian problem in Gaza.”

Serry acknowledged, however, that there is a need for certain goods in Gaza, such as materials for the rehabilitation of several buildings. This puts the lie to claims by international groups of a “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza caused by Israel’s partial blockade. In fact, Israel has allowed tens of thousands of tons of humanitarian and basic goods to be brought into Gaza via its crossings.

All of this is important to Israel because another Euroweenie wants to visit Gaza: Foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. Ashton, in her zeal to rip Israel in her very first foreign policy address, could not even get the EU's foreign policy straight. The Israeli government should not allow Ashton to cross into Gaza from any of the Israeli crossing points and should not cooperate at all in facilitating a visit for her. If the Egyptians want to let her in, that's their problem.

Israel Matzav: A parade of Euroweenies to Gaza?

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