This article is noteworthy not only for clear moral compass that guides it, but also for the sharing of findings that are largely absent from western, and especially mainstream U.S. media coverage of the situation in Gaza.
Critics of the authors have latched on to a howler of a typo where the word "tons" was substituted for "pounds." As typos go that is a champion; however, the underlying fact is that flour shipments to Gaza have been reduced by about 73 percent. Since bread is the key component in the daily diet of most Gazans the reduction in flour shipments is important as a measure of the collective punishment that has been inflicted on the strip.
I suggest you read the complete piece at:
Ending the stranglehold on Gaza - The Boston Globe
Only excerpts are offered here:
"The siege on Gaza and the West Bank began after Hamas's 2006 electoral victory with an international diplomatic and financial boycott of the new Hamas-led government. Development assistance was severely reduced with the improbable aim of bringing about a popular uprising against the very government just elected to power. Instead, this collective punishment resulted in a steady deterioration of Palestinian life, in growing lawlessness, and a violent confrontation between Fatah and Hamas, which escalated into a Hamas military takeover of Gaza in June 2007.
"Since then, the siege has been tightened to an unprecedented level. Over 80 percent of the population of 1.5 million (compared to 63 percent in 2006) is dependent on international food assistance, which itself has been dramatically reduced.
"In 2007, 87 percent of Gazans lived below the poverty line, more than a tripling of the percentage in 2000. In a November 2007 report, the Red Cross stated about the food allowed into Gaza that people are getting "enough to survive, not enough to live.""
"Since June, Israel has limited its exports to Gaza to nine basic materials. Out of 9,000 commodities (including foodstuffs) that were entering Gaza before the siege began two years ago, only 20 commodities have been permitted entry since. Although Gaza daily requires 680,000 tons of flour [SHOULD READ POUNDS, SEE COMMENTS] to feed its population, Israel had cut this to 90 tons per day by November 2007, a reduction of 99 percent [SHOULD READ MORE THAN 70%]. Not surprisingly, there has been a sharp increase in the prices of foodstuffs.
"Gaza also suffers from the ongoing destruction of its agriculture and physical infrastructure. Between June and November 2006, $74.7 million in damage was inflicted by the Israeli military on top of the nearly $2 billion already incurred by Palestinians between 2002 and 2005. Over half the damage was to agricultural land flattened by bulldozers, with the remainder to homes, public buildings, roads, water and sewage pipes, electricity infrastructure, and phone lines."
The psychological damage of living in a war zone may surpass the physical. According to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, between Sept. 1, 2005, and July 25, 2007, 668 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli security forces. Over half were noncombatants and 126 were children. During the same period, Qassam rockets and mortar shells killed eight Israelis, half of them civilians.
Gaza is no longer approaching economic collapse. It has collapsed. Given the intensity of repression Gaza is facing, can the collapse of its society - family, neighborhood, and community structure - be far behind? If that happens, we shall all suffer the consequences for generations to come.
The Globe corrected the tons for pounds gaff on January 30, 2008:
Correction: A column on Saturday by Eyad al-Sarraj and Sara Roy incorrectly said that Gaza requires 680,000 tons of flour daily to feed its population. It is 680,000 pounds, which means a reduction of 73 percent, not 99 percent, of flour allowed into Gaza.