This summer marks an important but often overlooked anniversary in the history of the Gaza Strip. Thirty years ago, in June 1989, Israel imposed for the first time a magnetic-card system to restrict the exit of Palestinian residents. Anyone denied a card would be prevented from leaving.
While Israel‘s blockade of Gaza is often seen to have originated in 2006-2007 as a response to Hamas’s rise to power, the isolation of the enclave in fact goes back three decades – and for many analysts, this historical perspective is essential for understanding today’s developments. Read more
A key element of Israel’s military regime in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), an occupation that will complete fifty years in June, is the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit, which is overseen by the Ministry of Defence.
COGAT, whose operating budget in 2015 was nearly half a billion shekels, describes itself as “responsible for implementing the government’s policy in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip.” Read more
Let us begin with the facts: Israeli authorities have, over the course of the last year, tightened the long-standing blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Even before these more recent restrictions, the Israeli blockade – an illegal policy of collective punishment in the words of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon – was continuing to severely harm the lives of Gaza’s two million residents, furthering the enclave’s de-development. Read more
A senior Gaza-based employee of US-headquartered charity World Vision appeared in an Israeli court on Tuesday, charged with numerous counts of ‘supporting terrorism’.
According to the Israel Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet), Mohammad al-Halabi infiltrated the charity on behalf of Hamas, redirecting tens of millions of dollars to Al-Qassam Brigades over many years.
But to the consternation of Halabi’s lawyer, family, and colleagues, as well as diplomats and human rights workers, the trial – which reconvenes in October – is being conducted entirely in secret. Read more
In recent days, Israeli authorities have announced charges against two, Gaza-based employees of international NGOs – one from World Vision, one from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Each individual faces accusations of varying degrees of assisting Hamas.
Many have expressed scepticism about the charges, particularly given the lack of due process. Mohammed Halabi, for example, was detained without charge for 50 days and alleges that he was tortured by Shin Bet officials during his interrogation. He was also denied access to a lawyer for three weeks. Read more
Last week, the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) – or Shin Bet – announced serious charges against a Gaza-based Palestinian employee of the global Christian charity, World Vision.
According to Shin Bet, Mohammad el-Halabi, the head of World Vision’s Gaza office, funnelled tens of millions of dollars of aid money to Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades in an elaborate, years-long scheme.
Israeli officials wasted no time in publicising allegations that boost Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government’s narrative that Hamas is exploiting naive, or nefarious, international aid groups. Read more
There were grimly familiar headlines last week, as a new United Nations report warned that Gaza could be uninhabitable by 2020 if present trends continue. This latest warning arrives three years after the UN similarly predicted that the Gaza Strip would not be “a livable place” by 2020 without drastic action to improve basic infrastructure and services.
The new report, published by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), is a thorough analysis of the economic reality of the occupied Palestinian territory. The report lays blame with Israel’s “discriminatory policies”, describing how Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip in 2014 led to a 15 percent drop in the latter’s gross domestic product, sending the Palestinian economy into its first recession since 2006, with unemployment shooting up to 44 percent. Read more
Wednesday marked one year since the ceasefire that ended Israel’s unprecedented seven-week assault on the Gaza Strip. On the occasion of this week’s anniversary, an international coalition of 35 NGOs issued a new call for the end of Israel’s blockade.
“For a whole year the Israeli government has restricted basic and essential construction materials from entering Gaza,” stated the aid groups, who noted that “not one of the 19,000 homes that were bombed and destroyed has been fully rebuilt”.
A petition launched by the NGOs on the Avaaz online community – “World Leaders: Lift the Gaza Blockade” – had, at the time of writing, already attracted 538,000 signatures. Read more
Almost a year on from the beginning of Israel’s ‘Operation Protective Edge’ and the ceasefire that ended hostilities has largely held, albeit with dozens of Israeli attacks on Gaza civilians, the continued blockade, and some half a dozen rocket launches. While the Israeli army and Palestinian factions prepare themselves in the event of a new confrontation, recent developments suggest that Gaza stands between the deterioration of a tense stand-off and a more substantial truce. Read more
Leading NGOs have heavily criticised attempts to link the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip with its demilitarisation, ahead of a debate about the issue in Westminster today.
Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) will this afternoon urge “disarmament for development”, as the Israel lobby group launches a new campaign focusing on the Gaza Strip and Hamas.
In their supporters’ briefing, LFI claims: “Reconstruction, lifting the ‘blockade’ of Gaza by Israel and Egypt and demilitarisation are intimately linked: the first two are dependent on the last.” Read more