THE United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon yesterday condemned the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, stating the obvious that the siege inflicts pain on people and damages the economy of the Palestinian coastal enclave.
The UN chief further highlighted the UN support for the people of Gaza, saying that the world body ‘will always be with you.’ The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in the standards of living and the destruction of thousands of homes as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.
On March 27, 2010 Israeli troops, backed by tanks, armoured vehicles, helicopters and mortars, entered Gaza and caused massive damage to homes, hospitals, men, women and children. On May 31, 2010 Israeli commandos boarded the Turkish aid ship the Mavi Marmara that was seeking to break the blockade of Gaza and bring badly needed foodstuffs into the area. Nine Turkish nationals were killed in the military operation by the Israelis and another Turkish citizen later died of his injuries.
On July 8, 2014 the Israeli army, navy and airforce launched another murderous attack on Gaza. According to the United Nations, at least 1,922 Palestinians were killed and 9,806 others injured during that Israeli military operation. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers were also killed, along with two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker.
The Israeli military then launched a ground invasion into Khuza’a, a town of about 10,000 residents near the city of Khan Younis not far from the border with Israel, on July 23, 2014. The Israeli army fired on and killed dozens of civilians in Khuza’a during the ground offensive, human rights groups have reported, with some calling the attacks that were launched between July 23 and 25 ‘apparent violations of the laws of war’.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl, who accompanied Ban in his trip to Gaza, stressed yesterday that the visit ‘comes at a time of deep despair in Gaza,’ calling on the world community ‘to pay far more attention’ to the situation in the blockaded coastal region. Ban is also scheduled to speak at a news conference in the Tel al-Hawa neighbourhood of Gaza City and meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
In a major development on Tuesday, a senior official of the resistance movement of Hamas, and deputy speaker of the Palestinian parliament released a statement urging Ban and the UN to ‘work seriously’ towards ending the decade-long siege imposed on Gaza. Ahmad Bahar criticized Ban’s visit as ‘part of the ongoing efforts to resume negotiations to reach a compromise that serves occupation and to contain the Al-Aqsa Intifada.’
The UN has ‘remained silent towards the Gaza siege crime for ten years’ by trying to ‘treat the victim and the executioner evenly,’ he added. Now the Third Intifada is under way. Already, nearly 220 Palestinians have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces. This mountain of corpses has not deterred Turkey from normalising its relations with Israel as announced early Monday, despite the massive opposition of the relatives of the 10 Marmara martyrs.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said on Monday in Ramallah that the terms of the agreement directly related to Palestinians, and the Gaza Strip in particular, involved the Palestinian government and Palestinian sovereignty. However the agreement, which included Israel’s approval of Turkish aid to reach the blockaded Gaza Strip, was welcomed by the Palestinian government ‘as long as it’s not conditional,’ al-Maliki said.
This normalisation is obviously conditional on suiting the interests of the Israeli and Turkish ruling classes. Turkey will use its deal with Israel to further its plans to expand Turkey’s power in the region, while Israel, with Turkish support, will seek to turn Gaza into the Palestinian state while it colonises the rest of Palestine.
The response of the Palestinians to this new normality and plot must be to step up the Intifada, while the working people of the world must boycott Israel, support Syria, prevent imperialist troops being sent into the area, and demand the establishment of the Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.