Gaza update

Gaza tends to drop out of the news when there isn’t a shooting war on. An exception during the last week was the resignation of the head of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) enquiry into the 2014 Gaza war. As Gideon Levy wrote in Ha’aretz:

Through persistent surveillance, Israel’s intelligence and propaganda branches revealed that Schabas had once received a $1,300 fee from the PLO. Conclusion: he sold his soul to the devil. The ref sucks. Q.E.D.

So the ref is gone, according to himself “in order to prevent Israel’s accusations against him from distracting attention from the writing of the report and publication of its findings.” He emphasised that the commission had largely finished gathering evidence and had begun writing the report and he did not want the issue to overshadow the work of the inquiry that “is at a decisive stage.”
Gideon Levy comments:

Soon the report of the panel without Schabas will be released. It won’t be “balanced”, as Israeli propaganda is demanding, because the situation is far from being balanced. The five Israeli citizens and 67 soldiers who were killed will likely be mentioned in it, as will the thousands of rockets fired at Israelis. But even with the panel’s new, “balanced” head, the report will mention that in the summer of 2014 Israel committed atrocities beyond all proportion in the Gaza Strip. There’s just no other fair way to describe it.

As a foretaste of the UN report, a fact-finding mission on the 2014 Gaza war has recently reported. The mission was co-ordinated by the Israeli organisation Physicians for Human Rights, which has strong links with Edinburgh’s Liberal Jewish Community. The report is summarised by 972 Magazine’s Haggai Mattar, who writes of his shock in reading about the IDF’s use of “double tap” attacks, in which the army bombed a target, waited a short while for rescuers to arrive, then bombed the same target again to kill the rescuers. Even the summary of the report makes hard reading.

A destroyed quarter in Shujaiyeh neighborhood in the east of Gaza City, photographed during a ceasefire, July 27, 2014. (Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

A destroyed quarter in Shujaiyeh neighborhood in the east of Gaza City, photographed during a ceasefire, July 27, 2014. (Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Meanwhile, the (virtually unreported) situation of Gaza’s residents has been desperate this winter. According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), over 96,000 refugee dwellings were damaged or destroyed during [the 2014 summer] conflict. UNRWA has paid $77m for repairs and temporary shelter, but has now run out of money, having spent only one-tenth of what it estimates is needed. 12,000 people are still living in temporary shelters established in school buildings—18 of them, imagine the conditions!

The Saudi government has made a “generous contribution” to the housing crisis, however. This PR gesture contrasts with Israel’s confiscation (supposedly temporary) of $100m of tax revenue that it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. The result is, of course, increasing delays in paying PA government staff. It would be surprising if people in Gaza didn’t draw their own conclusions about who their friends are, and—sure enough—Islamic State flags have begun to appear on demonstrations in the Strip.

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