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It's still miserable to be a Palestinian in Gaza

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Photo: Eva Bartlett

The misery inflicted on Palestinians, for years, for decades, gets continually worse.

Aside from being essentially locked-down by the occupying Zionist regime since at least 2006 (closures began way back in the 90s), leaving the vast majority of Gaza's Palestinians unable to freely travel from their tiny, overpopulated, suffocating Strip (not all is bad about the lovely Gaza Strip, but it is extremely difficult and impossible for the majority of the 1.7 million living there), every facet of life in Gaza is either in ruins or devolving towards ruin.

For years Gaza's fresh water has been getting more and more contaminated, to the point where 95 per cent of their already very limited fresh water is now not drinkable by WHO standards. Solution? There is none, and the water authority in Gaza estimates that by 2016, that's it. Palestinians in Gaza can hardly just build reverse-osmosis machines -- they can't even import building materials to re-build Israeli-bombed homes, buildings, schools. So people buy drinking water from Israel. How benevolent. And the vast majority who are too impoverished (rendered poor by the occupation's policies), drink the contaminated water, consuming alarming levels of nitrates and chlorides, leading to obvious health risks.

There's the same old nasty habit of Israeli soldiers gunning down or shelling Palestinian farmers and workers anywhere within 2 km of the border, rendering at least 35 per cent of Gaza's agricultural land off-limits. damn fine land too, rich, formerly host to endless olive, fruit and nut trees now mostly vacant, razed land, by the colonizers to keep Palestinians in misery. Oh yes, and for "security" reasons, of course.

And the same old dirty game of Israeli soldiers gunning down or shelling Palestinian fishers anywhere up to just one mile off Gaza's coast -- when fishers have under Israeli-signed accords the right to go 20 nautical miles off Gaza's coast. The "three mile limit" imposed by the Zionists cuts Palestinian fishers off from 85 per cent of their waters. Oh yes, and the Israeli navy loves to abduct fishers, interrogate them on everything but actual fishing, and steal or destroy their boats, nets, radars, lives. What kind of fish does one catch a mile or two off the coast anyway? not much. and the little fish they do catch are the stock fish -- literally little fish -- and now greatly contaminated.

Why the contamination? The same reason the aquifer is polluted: up to 80 million litres of partially or not all all treated sewage pumped into the sea every day, because Palestinians in Gaza don't have the means to treat and recycle that sewage.  Why? Because although for years they have wanted to expand on sewage containment pools and improve sewage plants and lines, the occupying forces do not allow the building materials needed into the Strip and greatly restrict the entrance of chemicals needed in treating the sewage, as well as fuel needed to run the plants when the electricity cuts (as it does daily, from 8 to 16 hours depending on what stage of crisis Gaza is being rendered into). Bombing water and sewage facilities doesn't help much either:

over 30 km of water networks were damaged or destroyed by the Israeli military in addition to 11 wells operated by the water authorities in Gaza. The UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza conflict (the Goldstone report) deemed this destruction "deliberate and systematic"; most of the infrastructure is yet to be repaired for lack of access to spare parts. [lots of info here]

What else is rosy about life in Gaza? The Israeli warplane fly-overs, the drones, the daily power outages (would that they could completely restore their sole power plant, bombed by the Israelis in 2006 and import sufficient fuel to run the maimed plant as best it could be run), the fuel and cooking gas shortages, the ban on exporting, the ban on travel (oh yes, some privileged can travel, those with connections, some of the truly ill -- but not all! -- can leave for treatment in occupied Palestine or Egypt), political in-fighting (engineered by who in the end? Well, who benefits from the rift between the big two parties?), and the psychological torture for the majority in Gaza that is constantly living on the edge.

When will the Zios bomb next? When will the crossing into Egypt (Palestinians sole option, realistically) open and remain open? When will we be allowed to export our produce, furniture, clothing and have a functioning economy? When will we not only have the right to travel for study (of course this applies to Palestinians in the rest of occupied Palestine), medical treatment or just for the hell of it like the rest of humanity? When will the world stop screwing us over? When will the sham of "peace talks" end? When will our imprisoned loved ones be released from Zionist jails? And when will it become actually unacceptable that Israeli politicians and military brass call for our executioncall for our expulsion, for the destruction of our infrastructure and means of living? (Come on Ban, can't you at least utter your pathetic "I strongly condemn" against these racist death-threats??)

Oh, a final note: even those traveling to Gaza in solidarity with Palestinians are subject to some of the wrath of Zionist-supporting regimes. A number of internationals, including a Canadian doctor and a Canadian film-maker, are being held under ridiculous pretexts by the coup-regime in Egypt, with worrying little contact with consular officials (see here and here for updates and ways to support these men).

Photo: Eva Bartlett

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