Each time I wash myself, I feel the same sense of despair and impotence: there are other human beings who are prevented from doing so. Among them, there are those who are progressively and increasingly prevented from doing so: the Palestinians residents in the Gaza Strip. Added to their ranks are Palestinian refugees from other regions who have settled there.
Not only are they prevented from washing themselves, they are also prevented from using water, including that which we need to drink and that used for washing food, and they are prevented from collecting rainwater to provide the absolute minimum for themselves in a Palestinian climate which tends towards desertified.
The Maia Mural Project, Gaza, 2011
They cannot even avail themselves of reserve tanks, as they too get punctured…
Israel ties up this policy by selling them water…
This is the status quo since 2006, ever since the State of Israel expropriated and occupied practically all that remained of Palestine from the British Mandate (there is debate as to whether there are Palestine regions in Jordan or Syria). Given the difficulties Israel has had in settling in the Gaza Strip, and undoubtedly after undertaking a cost-benefit analysis, it has opted for besieging it, as previously mentioned, for 14 years.
This includes the implementation of a plan for isolation and reduction of brain capacity: no more than 2,500 calories per inhabitant for nutrition, as well as a shortage of construction materials because Israelis allege that they can be used to excavate tunnels connecting the Gaza Strip with "the outside" (in other words, Egypt and Israel, and their respective hostile governments). Consequently, the "urban" landscape of the Strip comprises debris, remains, and bombed and shelled structures. Israel has systematically bombed ports and airports, factories of any kind, heat sources, water purifiers and waste treatment plants, meaning that everything touched, eaten and breathed by those who live in the Gaza Strip contains extremely high levels of contamination. The thoroughly democratic Israeli government, all of them since 2006 (Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Benjamin Netanyahu), is counting on significantly reducing the life expectancy of the Gaza Strip's inhabitants, as well as reducing its vegetative growth by an even greater factor.
The unforgettable Mahatma Gandhi, a pacifist who was violently assassinated, once said, “We will have to repent in this generation, not only for the evil words and deeds of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people”.
Therefore, the ideologically charged ruthlessness of Israeli Jews (supported by the majority of Jewish communities in the world, but fortunately with marked exceptions who repudiate the Zionist policy of slow-burn extermination) is not as frightening as the passive, silenced, meek complicity of the U.N., for example, or of Western Europe or the Arab League. The list goes on.
No history book has ever told me that the Gaza Strip is Palestinian. I have an indelible memory from my childhood: the magazine Billiken, conservative and institutional like few others, brought me an image in 1948 of some Arabs in the Gaza Strip, almost certainly when Palestine had already been occupied by Zionist troops and the State of Israel had been instated. Strikingly for my young eyes, they were covered from head to toe in all-white ankle-length tunics and turbans: Even Billiken conceded that this was Arab, Palestinian soil.
That year, the population in the Gaza Strip approximately doubled as the long-established native population was joined by terrorized Palestinians, expelled from other Palestine regions, such as Galilee, the Jordan Valley, etc. From then on, the Gaza Strip has been characterised by a population overload for such a narrow surface (some 50 km along the coast and around 6 km wide), which the ferocious siege has done nothing but aggravate to limits that are by no means less unbelievably atrocious, despite the silence that surrounds them.