In their own words

On the excellent ‘Promised Land’ blog, Noam Sheizaf draws attention to an IDF slideshow which lists “the principles of Israeli policy” towards the Gaza Strip, particularly with regards to restrictions on freedom of movement. One objective is listed as “separating/differentiating Judea and Samaria [West Bank] from Gaza”. Sheizaf notes that this “is the first time an Israeli official document publicly declares that the current policy objective is to create two separate political entities in the Palestinian territories”.

This is an example of how Zionist lobby spin can often be challenged using the words of Israeli officials. Last month, Netanyahu’s testimony before the Turkel Commission included the admission that, in the words of Gaza Gateway, “Israel’s decisions on what to allow or prohibit into Gaza were based not on concern for the welfare of the population in Gaza but rather about Israel’s image in the international media”. So much for ‘security’.

Then just a week ago, the same Commission heard testimony from Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, who said that “Israel declared economic warfare against the Gaza Strip and prevented the entry of goods – including certain kinds of food and other civilian items – that posed no security threat, with the goal of disrupting civilian life in the Gaza Strip”.

Finally, remember that in a 2007 legal case, the Israeli government’s State Attorney’s Office argued [PDF] that “harming the economy itself is a legitimate means of warfare and a relevant consideration even when deciding on allowing in relief consignments”.

Gaza Game Exposes Siege Restrictions

Israel announced weeks ago that it would ease its siege on Gaza, but students who want to travel to the West Bank to study are still banned – as they have been for 10 years. To publicise the problem, the Israeli human rights group Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement has created an online game that demonstrates just how difficult it is to leave the Gaza strip.

Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reports.

(Also see Gisha’s excellent short animation ‘Closed Zone‘)

Closed Zone

Itamar Shachar of the human rights group Gisha sends us this 90-second animated film “Closed Zone” created by Yoni Goodman, Director of Animation for the Academy Award-nominated film Waltz with Bashir together with Gisha.

Despite declarations that it has “disengaged” from the Gaza Strip, Israel maintains control of the Strip’s overland border crossings, territorial waters, and air space. This includes substantial, albeit indirect, control of the Rafah Crossing.

During the past 18 months, Israel tightened its closure of Gaza, almost completely restricting the passage of goods and people both to and from the Strip.

These policies punish innocent civilians with the goal of exerting pressure on the Hamas government, violating the rights of 1.5 million people who seek only to live ordinary lives – to be reunited with family, to pursue higher education, to receive quality medical treatment, and to earn a living.

The effects of the closure were particularly harsh during the military operation of Dec. 2008 – Jan. 2009. For three weeks, Gaza residents had nowhere to flee to escape the bombing.

Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement calls on the State of Israel to fully open Gaza’s crossings and to allow the real victims of the closure – 1.5 million human beings – the freedom of movement necessary to realize their dreams and aspirations.