Israel brüskiert Weltöffentlichkeit
Siedlungsausbau im Westjordanland wird verstärkt / Rotes Kreuz kritisiert Gaza-Abriegelung
Ungeachtet internationaler Forderungen, jüngst vor allem der USA, nach einem vollständigen Siedlungsstopp hat Israel die Erlaubnis für den Bau weiterer Siedlungswohnungen im Westjordanland gegeben.
Tel Aviv / Ramallah (Agenturen/ND). Die Berichte über die neuen Siedlungspläne Israels lösten am Montag (29. Juni) zornige Reaktionen der Palästinenser aus. Unmittelbar vor einem Besuch des israelischen Verteidigungsministers Ehud Barak in den USA meldeten israelische Medien, es gebe sogar grundsätzliche Pläne für den Bau von insgesamt 1450 Wohnungen in der Siedlung Adam nordöstlich von Jerusalem. Das Verteidigungsministerium habe jedoch zunächst nur dem sofortigen Bau von 50 Wohnungen zugestimmt. Sie sind als neuer Wohnraum für Einwohner eines Siedlungs-Außenpostens gedacht, der ohne Genehmigung der Regierung entstanden war und geräumt werden soll.
Der Armeesender meldete, der Staat habe dem Obersten Gericht in Jerusalem mitgeteilt, die 50 Wohnungen würden der Zahl der Siedler in dem illegalen Außenposten Migron entsprechen. Die israelische Organisation Peace Now habe beim Obersten Gericht eine Räumung von Migron beantragt, der größten »wilden Siedlung« im Westjordanland. Der Vorsitzende der Organisation, Jariw Oppenheimer, forderte Barak am Montag auf, auch keine neuen Baupläne in der Siedlung Adam zu genehmigen und alle Siedlungsaktivitäten einzufrieren.
Der palästinensische Minister für Jerusalem-Angelegenheiten, Hatem Abdel Kader, sagte dem israelischen Online-Dienst »ynet«, Israel »pfeife« in der Siedlungsfrage auf die USA. Die Entscheidung torpediere jede Möglichkeit für einen echten Friedensprozess. »Im Schatten dieser Politik gibt es keine Chance, dass (Palästinenserpräsident) Abbas und (der israelische Ministerpräsident) Netanjahu gemeinsam am Verhandlungstisch sitzen.« Der palästinensische Chefunterhändler Saeb Ereket sagte, Israel ignoriere »in Wort und Tat« weiter seine Verpflichtungen im Rahmen des internationalen Friedensplans Road Map, der einen Stopp aller Siedlungsaktivitäten vorsehe. Mahmud Abbas sagte, ein Einfrieren der Siedlungsaktivitäten sei nicht genug für eine Wiederaufnahme von Friedensverhandlungen. Israel müsse auch die Zwei-Staaten-Lösung anerkennen, erklärte er in Ramallah.
Die Berichte über neue Siedlungspläne kamen nur wenige Stunden vor einem Treffen Baraks mit dem US-Nahostbeauftragten George Mitchell am späten Montag in New York. US-Präsident Barack Obama hatte zu Beginn des Monats bei einer Ansprache in Kairo einen vollständigen Stopp aller israelischen Siedlungsaktivitäten gefordert. Der israelische Ministerpräsident Benjamin Netanjahu sagte daraufhin, er wolle keine neuen Siedlungen bauen und kein neues Land von Palästinensern konfiszieren. Er besteht aber bislang weiter auf »natürlichem Wachstum« in bestehenden Siedlungen. Israelische Medien berichteten, Barak wolle in den USA ein Einfrieren des Siedlungsausbaus für drei Monate vorschlagen.
Unterdessen hat sich das Internationale Komitee vom Roten Kreuz (IKRK) in einem Aufruf für die leidende Bevölkerung im von Israel abgeriegelten Gaza-Streifen eingesetzt. So müssten die Beschränkungen für die Bewegungsfreiheit der Menschen und die Lieferung von Gütern aufgehoben werden, heißt es in einem am Montag in Genf veröffentlichten Bericht. »Israel hat das Recht, seine Bevölkerung gegen Angriffe zu schützen. Aber bedeutet das auch, dass 1,5 Millionen Menschen in Gaza nicht das Recht auf ein normales Leben haben?«, fragte das IKRK. Die Hilfsorganisation äußert sich normalerweise nicht direkt zu den Parteien in Konflikten.
* Aus: Neues Deutschland, 30. Juni 2009
Von Olaf Standke **
Israel habe fraglos das Recht, seine Bevölkerung zu schützen. Aber bedeute das für die Menschen in Gaza, dass sie nicht das Recht auf normales Leben haben? Es ist schon außergewöhnlich, wenn sich das internationale Rote Kreuz in einem Appell so für die leidende Bevölkerung im nach wie vor hermetisch abgeriegelten Gazastreifen einsetzt. Normalerweise äußert man sich nicht derart unverblümt zu Konflikten. Doch hier geht es um eine dramatische humanitäre Krise -- und Israel bleibt bei der Blockade.
Sicherheitsgründe führt es auch in Sachen Siedlungsbau ins Feld. Die Regierung Netanjahu müsse erst einmal ihre Hausaufgaben machen, mit dieser Begründung hatte der US-Nahostgesandte Mitchell zuletzt Treffen mit israelischen Politikern abgesagt. Denn eine radikale Kehrtwende in der Siedlungspolitik ist angesagt. Gestern wollte Verteidigungsminister Barak nun in Washington die Wogen glätten -- doch wenige Stunden zuvor billigte sein Ministerium den Bau von 50 neuen Wohnungen im Westjordanland. Geplant sind allein in dieser Siedlung gar 1450. Gute Noten bringt das in Washington kaum. Die Formel vom »natürlichen Wachstum« bestehender Siedlungen hilft im gerade wiederbelebten Nahost-Friedensprozess ebenso wenig weiter wie das zeitweilige Einfrieren des Siedlungsneubaus. Ein von Präsident Obama vom wichtigsten Verbündeten in der Region gefordertes klares Bekenntnis zum Friedensprozess sieht anders aus.
** Aus: Neues Deutschland, 30. Juni 2009 (Kommentar)
International Committee of the Red Cross
GAZA: 1.5 million people trapped in despair
Six months after Israel launched its three-week military operation in Gaza on 27
December 2008, Gazans still cannot rebuild their lives. Most people struggle to
make ends meet. Seriously ill patients face great difficulty obtaining the treatment
they need. Many children suffer from deep psychological problems. Civilians whose
homes and belongings were destroyed during the conflict are unable to recover.
During the 22 days of the Israeli military operation, nowhere in Gaza was safe for
civilians. Hospitals were overwhelmed with casualties, including small children,
women and elderly people. Medical personnel showed incredible courage and
determination, working around the clock to save lives in extremely difficult
circumstances. Meanwhile, daily rocket attacks launched from Gaza put thousands
of residents at risk in southern Israel. Medical workers in Israel provided care for the
traumatized population and treated and evacuated casualties.
Many people in Gaza lost a child, a parent, another relative or a friend. Israel's military
operation left thousands of homes partly or totally destroyed. Whole neighbourhoods
were turned into rubble. Schools, kindergartens, hospitals and fire and ambulance
stations were damaged by shelling.
This small coastal strip is
cut off from the outside
world. Even before the
latest hostilities, drastic
restrictions on the
movement of people
and goods imposed by
the Israeli authorities,
October 2007, had led
to worsening poverty,
and deteriorating public
services such as health
care, water and sanitation.
between the Palestinian
Authority in Ramallah and
the Hamas administration
in Gaza had also hit the
provision of essential
services. As a result, the
people of Gaza were
already experiencing a
major crisis affecting all
aspects of daily life when
hostilities intensified in
Six months later, restrictions
on imports are making
it impossible for Gazans
to rebuild their lives. The
quantities of goods now entering Gaza fall well short of what is required to meet the
population's needs. In May 2009, only 2,662 truckloads of goods entered Gaza from
Israel, a decrease of almost 80 per cent compared to the 11,392 truckloads allowed
in during April 2007, before Hamas took over the territory.
NO RECONSTRUCTION ALLOWED
Gaza neighbourhoods particularly hard hit by the Israeli strikes will continue to look
like the epicentre of a massive earthquake unless vast quantities of cement, steel and
other building materials are allowed into the territory for reconstruction. Until that
happens, thousands of families who lost everything will be forced to live in cramped
conditions with relatives. Others will continue to live in tents, as they have nowhere
else to go.
Emergency repairs carried out after the military operation have made it possible to
restore water and sanitation services, but only to the already unsatisfactory level
prevailing before December 2008. The infrastructure is overloaded and remains
subject to breakdown. Although chlorine is used to disinfect the water, the risk of
sewage and other waste matter seeping into the water supply network represents a
major threat to public health.
Every day, 69 million litres of partially treated or completely untreated sewage –
the equivalent of 28 Olympic-size swimming pools – are pumped directly into the
Mediterranean because they cannot be treated.
PUBLIC HEALTH AT RISK
Thousands of homes only have access to running water on certain days. Because the
water supply network cannot be properly maintained, it is leaking, making it harder
to maintain sufficient water pressure. Even when water is available in the pipes, many
homes do not have sufficient power to pump it into rooftop storage tanks.
The taps of tens of thousands of people run dry when Gaza's municipal water wells
break down, which frequently happens because of insufficient supplies of new water
pipes, electrical spare parts, pumps and transformers.
The ICRC has occasionally found ways of repairing infrastructure without relying
on imports. For example, it used recycled materials (including used water pipes
and concrete segments of the old Rafah border wall destroyed in January 2008) to
upgrade a wastewater treatment plant serving 175,000 people in Rafah.
However, on its own this is insufficient. Other repairs and reconstruction projects are
urgently needed to prevent the further deterioration of the water supply system, carry
out essential maintenance and stem the steady decline of the water and sanitation
system throughout the Gaza Strip. The fact that water and sanitation services could
collapse at any moment raises the spectre of a major public health crisis.
The only way to address this crisis is to lift import restrictions on spare parts, water
pipes and building materials such as cement and steel so that homes can be rebuilt
and vital infrastructure maintained and upgraded.
INSUFFICIENT ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE
Gaza's health-care system cannot provide the treatment that many patients suffering
from serious illness require. Tragically, a number of them are not allowed to leave the
Strip in time to seek health care elsewhere. Health issues in Gaza are often politicized
and patients find themselves caught up in a bureaucratic maze. The procedures for
requesting permission to leave the territory are complicated and involve both the
Palestinian and Israeli authorities. Seriously ill patients sometimes have to wait for
months before the relevant authorities allow them to leave the Gaza Strip.
Even when patients do obtain the necessary permits to leave, the transfer through
Erez crossing into Israel can be arduous. Patients on life-support machines have to
be removed from ambulances and placed on stretchers, then carried 60-80 metres
through the crossing to ambulances waiting on the other side. Patients who can
walk unassisted may face extensive questioning before they are allowed through the
crossing for medical treatment – or, as sometimes happens, before they are refused
entry into Israel and turned back.
The shortage of basic medicines is a constant problem for Gaza hospitals and health
clinics. They depend on a timely and reliable supply of medicines from the Palestinian
Authority's Ministry of Health in the West Bank, but the supply chain often breaks
down. Cooperation between the health authorities in the West Bank and Gaza is
difficult. Complex and lengthy Israeli import procedures also hamper the reliable
supply of even the most basic items such as painkillers and X-ray film developers. As
a result, some patients, including people suffering from cancer or kidney failure, do
not always get the essential drugs they need.
An estimated 100-150 people who lost limbs in the recent military operation are
waiting to be fitted with artificial limbs. The ICRC-supported Artificial Limb and Polio
Centre (ALPC) is the only physical rehabilitation centre in Gaza that can provide
them with adequate rehabilitation and professional customized appliances. Being
the only limb fitting centre in the Gaza Strip, the ALPC has to respond to the entire
demand for artificial limbs. Yet importing prosthetic materials and components is
still a difficult and lengthy process.
Gaza's hospitals are run down. Much of the equipment is unreliable and in need of
repair. Complicated procedures for obtaining approval to import spare parts make it
difficult and time consuming to bring in and maintain hospital equipment, such as
CT scanners, and spare parts – even for hospital washing machines. The ICRC has had
to wait as long as five months to import medical equipment for operating theaters,
such as orthopedic external fixators.
Daily power cuts and power fluctuations continue to damage medical equipment.
Most hospitals have to rely on backup generators for several hours a day, but it is
never certain that enough fuel will be available to run them.
Seriously ill patients should be given prompt and safe passage out of the Gaza
Strip in order to access the specialized medical care they cannot get inside the
territory. Essential medical items such as drugs, disposables and spare parts must
be allowed into the Gaza Strip without delay and in sufficient quantities to ensure
essential health services for the population.
A STRANGLED ECONOMY
One of the gravest consequences of the closure is soaring unemployment, which
reached 44 per cent in April 2009, according to the Gaza Chamber of Commerce.
Restrictions on imports and exports of goods imposed since June 2007 have shut
down 96% of industrial operations in Gaza, with the loss of about 70,000 jobs. This
has also had a severe impact on the capacity to export products to Israel and the
West Bank, which has become almost impossible.
The tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border do not present an alternative route to
economic development and are not ensuring a sufficient supply of affordable goods
for the population.
The collapse of the Gaza economy has led to a dramatic increase in poverty. An ICRC
household survey conducted in May 2008 showed that, even then, over 70 per cent
of Gazans were living in poverty, with monthly incomes of less than 250 US dollars
for a family of 7 to 9 members (1 dollar per household member per day, excluding
the value of humanitarian assistance which they may receive). Up to 40 per cent of
Gaza families are very poor; with a monthly income of under 120 dollars (0.5 dollar
per household member per day). On average, each person who does work – whether
as a paid employee or running their own business – has to support their immediate
family of 6-7 people and a few members of their extended family.
This increase in poverty has taken a heavy toll on the population's diet. Many families
have been forced to cut household expenses to survival levels. Generally, people are
getting the calories they need, but only a few can afford a healthy and balanced diet.
Poor families often substitute cheaper alternatives such as cereals, sugar and oil for
fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. For tens of thousands of children, this has resulted
in deficiencies in iron, vitamin A and vitamin D. The likely consequences include
stunted growth of bones and teeth, difficulty in fighting off infections, fatigue and a
reduced capacity to learn.
Most of the very poor have exhausted their coping mechanisms. Many have no
savings left. They have sold private belongings such as jewellery and furniture and
started to sell productive assets including farm animals, land, fishing boats or cars
used as taxis. They are unable to reduce spending on food any further. The declining
living standards will affect the health and well-being of the population in the long
term. Those worst affected are likely to be children, who make up more than half of
Gaza's alarming poverty is directly linked to the tight closure imposed on the
territory. Local industry and other businesses have to be allowed to rebuild, to
import essential inputs and to export their products. But even that would take
time. The crisis has become so severe and entrenched that even if all crossings
were to open tomorrow it would take years for the economy to recover.
FARMING IN THE DANGER ZONE
The closure has also badly hit farming families, which make up over a quarter of Gaza's
population. Exports of strawberries, cherry tomatoes and cut flowers used to be an
important source of income. They have come to a virtual standstill. Many farmers
have had their income halved as they find it difficult to sell their entire harvest inside
Gaza. Even if they succeed, the price they obtain is only a fraction of what they would
normally earn from exports to Israel or Europe.
During the latest military operation, the Israeli army uprooted thousands of citrus,
olive and palm groves, including those far inside the Gaza Strip. The army also
destroyed irrigation systems, wells and greenhouses.
Many farmers are effectively denied access to parts of their land because of the
Israeli-imposed "no-go" zone on the Gaza side of the border fence with Israel. At
least 30 per cent of the arable land in Gaza lies within this buffer zone, which can
extend up to one kilometre from the fence. A farmer never knows for sure if it is
safe to work his land or to harvest within the zone. Farmers risk being shot at when
tending to their land and incursions by the army often leave fields and parts of the
Getting agricultural production up and running again is difficult not only because
of the destruction that has occurred, but also because Israel does not allow the
importation of suitable fertilizers and because many types of seedlings are difficult
or even impossible to find in Gaza.
Fishing has also been hard hit by the Israeli-imposed restrictions on movement. Last
January, the area at sea within which Israel allows fishing was cut from six to three
nautical miles from Gaza's coastline, reducing catches and therefore the availability
of this protein-rich food. Bigger fish and sardines, which constituted some 70 per cent
of the catch before 2007, are found mainly outside the three-nautical-mile zone.
Urgent steps must be taken to allow farmers to resume growing their crops in
safety. Fertilizers, spare parts for machinery, plastic sheeting for greenhouses
and fodder must be allowed into the Gaza Strip in quantities that will ensure
that they are sold at prices farmers can afford. At the same time, farmers must
be permitted to resume their exports of produce in order to earn a proper living. Recent restrictions on fishing should be rescinded.
People in Gaza are trapped. because Israel has shut the crossing points, Gazans'
have scant opportunity for contact with relatives abroad or for further education
or professional training. The restrictions on leaving and entering the Gaza Strip also
apply to Palestinian staff of international organizations such as the ICRC. To make
matters worse, it is seldom possible to use the Rafah border point with Egypt.
The emotional fallout from the closure is particularly apparent among families with relatives imprisoned in Israel. In June 2007, Israel stopped ICRC-supported visits by
about 900 Gaza families to their detained relatives. As a result, many children have
lost their one remaining link with a detained parent or sibling. These families must be
allowed to resume visits to their relatives in Israeli detention.
Often, university students with grants to study abroad are not allowed to leave Gaza.
Those who cannot leave are left with limited options for further education within the
coastal enclave. University professors, teachers and health professionals are often
prevented from participating in training courses and seminars abroad that would
help them upgrade their skills and expertise.
BREAKING THE CYCLE OF DESPAIR AND DESTITUTION
Over the last two years, the 1.5 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip have been
caught up in an unending cycle of deprivation and despair as a result of the conflict,
and particularly as a direct consequence of the closure of the crossing points.
The ICRC has repeatedly pointed out that Israel’s right to address its legitimate
security concerns must be balanced against the right of the population in Gaza to
lead a normal and dignified life. Under international humanitarian law, Israel has the
obligation to ensure that the population's basic needs in terms of food, shelter, water
and medical supplies are met.
The ICRC once again appeals for a lifting of restrictions on the movement of people
and goods as the first and most urgent measure to end Gaza's isolation and to allow
its people to rebuild their lives.
The almost 4.5 billion dollars that donor countries pledged for reconstruction at an
international summit in Egypt in March 2009 will be of little use if building materials
and other essential items cannot be imported into the Gaza Strip.
In any case, reconstruction alone does not offer a sustainable means of getting Gaza
back on its feet. To go back to the situation prior to the latest military operation
would be unacceptable, as that would only perpetuate Gaza’s plight.
A lasting solution requires fundamental changes in Israeli policy, such as allowing
imports and exports to and from Gaza, increasing the flow of goods and people up
to the level of May 2007, allowing farmers to access their land in the de-facto buffer
zone and restoring fishermen's access to deeper waters.
Humanitarian action can be no substitute for the credible political steps that are
needed to bring about these changes. Only an honest and courageous political
process involving all States, political authorities and organized armed groups
concerned can address the plight of Gaza and restore a dignified life to its people.
The alternative is a further descent into misery with every passing day.
ICRC Activicies In Gaza
The ICRC has had a permanent presence in the Gaza Strip since 1968. There are
currently 109 ICRC staff working there, including 19 expatriates.
ICRC staff remained in Gaza throughout the Israeli military operation launched
on 27 December 2008. In cooperation with the Palestine Red Crescent Society
(PRCS), they evacuated hundreds of people – some of whom were severely
wounded in the fighting. In addition, they provided hospitals with vital
medicines and supplies, and ICRC war surgeons helped perform operations in
Gaza's Shifa Hospital. Working with local authorities, the ICRC also carried out
emergency repairs on the power and water supply lines.
In the aftermath of the military operation, the ICRC and the PRCS distributed
relief items such as plastic sheeting, cooking sets, mattresses, blankets and
hygiene kits to more than 72,000 Gazans whose houses had been partially or
totally destroyed. ICRC delegates also gathered information on whether Israel
and Palestinian groups conducted hostilities in accordance with international
humanitarian law. The ICRC's findings are being discussed bilaterally with the
At present, the ICRC is supplying eight hospitals with medicines and other
medical items, equipment and spare parts, and is helping to maintain and
repair ambulances. In addition, the ICRC is fitting amputees with artificial
limbs and providing them with physiotherapy. It is helping to upgrade water
and sanitation services and to maintain the water network. The organization is
providing support for farmers and others in need through various programmes
involving land rehabilitation, compost production and "cash for work." The
ICRC continues to visit detainees in the Gaza Strip and to promote knowledge
of and respect for international humanitarian law among the authorities and
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