All Along the Watchtower: Inside the Gaza Blockade

Justin King
January 5, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) The blockade of Gaza by Israel is primarily enforced by the fact that Israel controls the waters off the coast of Gaza, the air space above it, and the massive series of walls that surround the land. The walls are still under construction and are constantly being lengthened. The finished product will contain at least 403 miles of walls. For perspective, that’s about like driving from Washington, DC to New York City… and back. The walls will reach 25 feet in height, the same height as the walls surrounding Oregon’s Maximum Security Prison where the state’s death row inmates are located. Citing security concerns, Israel has effectively turned Gaza into the world’s largest prison.

The Israeli government believes the wall slated to be twice as high and four times as long as the Berlin Wall enhances security.

There sits what’s left of an infamous prison in Northern Ireland. It’s best known as “Long Kesh.” Starting in 1971, British forces that were seeking to curtail the Irish Republican Army rounded up close to 2,000 people and stuck them in internment camps. The idea was to contain the Troubles before they grew. It was possibly the worst modern tactical decision made by the Brits in Northern Ireland.

It created an echo-chamber for those imprisoned. If they weren’t IRA when they were picked up by the Royal Ulster Constabulary, they were when they were released. Going to Long Kesh became an honor, maybe even a goal for some. It was dubbed “Republican University” and became the place to really become steeped in IRA ideology, training, and militancy.

The stones of the prison became the stone on which British brutality was broke. Even those that aren’t very familiar with the Irish causes of the 1970s and 1980s probably know the name Bobby Sands. The international outrage sparked by his hunger strike started inside Long Kesh.

The United States was dumb enough to repeat the mistake of imprisoning committed fighters, sympathizers, and suspects together during its snatch and grab operations in the early days of the Iraq War. One of those snatched up was a “moderate” academic named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. You know him today as “The guy that runs ISIS.”

Throughout history, mass internment has only served to increase the spirit of resistance in those interned. Israel isn’t wearing Hamas down with this blockade; it has provided the political organization with the perfect recruiting tool to obtain new fighters for its militant wing.

What does the blockade accomplish?

Israel’s justification for not allowing the importation of certain goods to Gaza is that the items are “dual use.” The items banned could be used for war. Sounds pretty scary. When the US used the term “dual use” it was talking about material used to make nuclear weapons. Are the Palestinians close to having a nuke? Of course not.

“Dual use” in Gaza means: concrete, rebar, gravel, and other construction materials. In Israel’s defense, gravel could be used as a weapon in the conflict because more often than not the Palestinians are facing down soldiers armed with the best weapons that the US taxpayers can buy for the Israelis while armed with little more than rocks. These items are desperately in need since the Israeli military bombed Gaza, indiscriminately destroying 18,000 homes as well as hospitals. The Israelis have also banned the import of “luxury” items. In Gaza, it is a “luxury” to have tea, jam, and cancer treatment drugs. If Israel allowed the Kerem Shalom checkpoint to operate at the maximum capacity, it will take more than 20 years to import the construction materials to repair the damage done by the most recent fighting.

The military has also restricted the amount of food that can be imported at various times. Limiting the “daily humanitarian portion” of food is part of a policy from eight years ago of “putting them on a diet.” They are using hunger as a weapon.

In an attempt to further destroy and impoverish the Palestinians, Israel has effectively banned most exports from the country. There cannot be any security concerns with material leaving the area.

For all the talk about security concerns, the truth is that the Israelis want the Palestinians on the brink of a humanitarian crisis. There is a US State Department cable proving it:

“Israeli officials have confirmed to Embassy officials on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis.. Israeli officials have confirmed.. on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge.”

In addition to keeping supplies and food out, the Israelis are keeping the Palestinians in. All Palestinians attempting to head out of Gaza must travel through the Erez checkpoint. Israel refuses to allow Palestinians to leave to go to the other Palestinian area, the West Bank, for most purposes. In 14 years, they have allowed only 3 students to seek an education there. They don’t allow family members to attempt to reunite, even spouses are kept separated in the name of security concerns. The checkpoint now allows fewer than 200 people out per day. In 2000, the average number was 26,000. The IDF has cut border crossing by 99% and is currently allowing people out only in “exceptional humanitarian situations.”

The most recent historical example of a nation walling off an ethnicity and then denying them access to the basic necessities of life is the reason Israel was created in the first place. The Israelis often chant “Never forget!” when discussing the holocaust. Apparently, the propaganda has lost its meaning and not only have they forgotten what it’s like to be walled inside ghettos and starved, but they now use the slogan to justify doing it to another ethnicity.

It is often said that “If the Palestinians laid down their arms, there would be peace. If Israel laid down their arms, they would murdered.” Of course, this is an utter propaganda lie. The vast majority of Palestinians support ceasefire. Israeli actions in Gaza are nothing short of the systematic elimination of an ethnicity. It’s genocide. It’s a slow, drawn out, painful form of genocide. At least the Nazis attempted to be efficient at imprisoning people and murdering them.

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