Thursday, October 25, 2007

The turn of the screw

The Israeli government (readers will notice that I do not refer to Jerusalem to designate the state, as one would use Washington or Beijing, given that the switch of the capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem a few years a go has been largely successful in turning a contested geographical area into shorthand for the Jewish state and exclusion for Palestinians) has upped the ante by announcing it would cut off electricity to Gaza in increasing fashion every time Palestinian militants fire rockets into Israeli territory.

Note that in its report, the Associated Press vaguely refers to Israeli “territory,” without distinction between Israel proper and Israeli settlements.

The first cut, we are told, will last 15 minutes.

Yet again, the Israeli military will be resorting to “retaliatory” (again, AP at its best, which depicts the Palestinians as instigators without providing any background into the reasons why they feel the need to fire the rockets in the first place) measures that not only treat Palestinians like children who need to be brought into line but that punish the majority for the actions of the few, a clear violation of the laws of war. Even the usually meek UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon could not help but criticize the plan last month when it was first unveiled.

Stranger, even, is the fact that the “barrage” of rockets, which has allegedly “severely disrupted” life in the “area,” has only killed 12 Israelis in six years. That’s two Israelis killed every year killed by the supposedly dangerous Palestinian rockets. Car accidents, drinking, drugs, lightning, food poisoning, high cholesterol, attacks by dogs — all, and many more, are far deadlier everyday occurrences than those crude Palestinian rockets. And yet, cars are not being taken off the roads, alcohol and drugs are not being taken off the streets and pet dogs are not being culled. But the 1.5 million people who live in Gaza, however, will be made responsible.

Many, many more Gazans have died as a result of Israeli violence, but we don't see Palestinians cutting off energy supplies to Israel. That's because they can't, as the power dynamics in the conflict are very much in Israel's favor, with control not only over most of the electricity Gaza recives, but also water, goods, airspace, and so on.

Meanwhile, there is nothing in the AP report about how this illegal turn of the screw will “severely” disrupt the lives Palestinians, whose lives have already been severely disrupted by the fact that people have been crammed into a non-viable state whose survival is at the mercy of the Israeli state.

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