For the World, Gaza Is Reality TV

For the World, Gaza Is Reality TV

GAZA CITY - "We are being starved, killed, tortured, and besieged -- and all this while the world just watches," says Abu Wael at the funeral of the latest group of Gazans killed by Israeli forces.

The death toll is mounting, even if much of the media is taking little note of killings on the Gaza side.

Gaza's health ministry spokesman Khaled Radi said that in just one 24-hour period last week, 17 Palestinians were killed and many more injured. The dead include seven policemen who were targeted in southern Gaza's Khan Younis police station while praying at dawn. Four of the Palestinians were killed in Jabalyia refugee camp in the north of the Strip.

An Israeli air strike near al-Tuffah, north of Gaza City, killed two and wounded four, three of them seriously. In yet another attack, a teacher was killed, and three students wounded, when an Israeli tank shell hit an agriculture high school in the northern town of Beit Hanoun.

This mounting death toll came some hours after Hamas claimed responsibility for the bombing in a mall in Dimona in southern Israel which killed one Israeli and injured five. Two Palestinians died carrying out the bombing.

Dimona city lies in the Negev, about 10 kilometres from Israel's top-secret nuclear reactor. The attack was the first Hamas bombing in three years.

"There are no choices, no options for our people, but to resist the occupation and defend ourselves by all possible means," the Hamas spokesman in Gaza said.

"If this enforced starvation of one and a half million people was happening to Americans, would they accept it?" said Abu Wael.

But the increasing militant attacks on Israelis is leading to an escalation of the conflict. Earlier this week Israeli forces entered Gaza City, bringing new clashes with Palestinians. Injuries were reported on both sides.

In one Palestinian rocket attack, two Israeli brothers were reported injured, drawing warning of further Israeli attacks.

Meanwhile, Israel continues its strangling siege of Gaza. This latest stage of Israel's two-year embargo on Gaza began in late October after Israel declared the Strip a "hostile entity" and cut fuel supplies to Gaza.

Israel says its measures are aimed at stopping militants firing rockets into Israel. It has also pledged not to allow humanitarian disaster in the territory where nearly 80 percent the population depends on humanitarian aid.

But international aid organisations say Israel is expected to further reduce the amount of electricity it supplies to Gaza over the next two weeks.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the Israeli measures are affecting civilians not involved in anti-Israeli violence, and having a grave impact on essential infrastructure like hospitals, water-pumping stations and sewage treatment facilities.

"Israel views restricting fuel and electricity to Gaza as a way to pressure Palestinian armed groups to stop their rocket and suicide attacks," HRW Middle East director Joe Stork said in the statement. "But the cuts are seriously affecting civilians who have nothing to do with these armed groups, and that violates a fundamental principle of the laws of war."

In light of worsening crisis, the ministry of health in Gaza has launched an appeal to all concerned parties to crack down on Israel. "Cutting off electricity and fuel means we will not be able to operate our generators in the hospitals," said spokesman Khaled Radi.

"It means that life-saving machines and babies wards will stop functioning. It affects almost every hospital procedure, including keeping vaccinations refrigerated. This is a catastrophe, which threatens the lives of more than 1,500 patients in hospitals all over the Gaza Strip.

"We appeal to World Health Organisation, the International Red Cross, and to all international organisations and governments around the world to save the lives of our children."

For most people, this is only further programming on television.

2008 Inter Press Service

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