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Argument: Israel caused conflict by terrorizing Gaza with blockade

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Rashid Khalidi. "What You Don’t Know About Gaza". New York Times. January 7, 2009 - The OCCUPATION The Gazans have lived under Israeli occupation since the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel is still widely considered to be an occupying power, even though it removed its troops and settlers from the strip in 2005. Israel still controls access to the area, imports and exports, and the movement of people in and out. Israel has control over Gaza’s air space and sea coast, and its forces enter the area at will. As the occupying power, Israel has the responsibility under the Fourth Geneva Convention to see to the welfare of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.

[...] Israel’s blockade of the strip, with the support of the United States and the European Union, has grown increasingly stringent since Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in January 2006. Fuel, electricity, imports, exports and the movement of people in and out of the Strip have been slowly choked off, leading to life-threatening problems of sanitation, health, water supply and transportation. [...] The blockade has subjected many to unemployment, penury and malnutrition. This amounts to the collective punishment — with the tacit support of the United States — of a civilian population for exercising its democratic rights.

Haaretz news analysis sited in a December 28th, 2008 article in Editor and Publisher: "A million and a half human beings, most of them downcast and desperate refugees, live in the conditions of a giant jail, fertile ground for another round of bloodletting. The fact that Hamas may have gone too far with its rockets is not the justification of the Israeli policy for the past few decades, for which it justly merits an Iraqi shoe to the face."[1]

"Blockade leaves Gazans in the dark". Los Angeles Times. November 14, 2008 - Much of Gaza City fell into darkness Thursday night after an Israeli blockade, tightened in response to Palestinian hostilities, caused the city's electricity plant to run critically low on fuel and shut down.

Israel also barred 30 truckloads of relief supplies from entering the Gaza Strip, leaving a United Nations agency without food to distribute to needy families that make up half the Palestinian territory's 1.5 million people.

The partial blackout and the food shortage were the most severe consequences of recent hostilities that have shattered a 5-month-old cease-fire along Israel's border with Gaza. With the cease-fire accord due to expire next month, Israel and Hamas, the Islamic group that governs Gaza, appeared to be bracing for another round of heavy fighting.

Hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza City joined a candlelight march, organized by a Hamas-backed group, to protest what they called an Israeli siege.

"This is a crime against innocent civilians," said Ziad Abu Khousa, 23, who wondered aloud how he and other students at Gaza City's Islamic University could manage to study for midterm exams without lights at night. "Half the population of Gaza are women and children, and they have nothing to do with the fighting."

Maher Najjar. "Fire and Water in Gaza". Washington Post. November 27, 2007 - On Sept. 19, the Israeli government declared the Gaza Strip "hostile territory" and authorized steps to punish its civilian population. It decided that every Qassam rocket fired into Israel would carry a price tag: cutting the supply of electricity and fuel that Israel sells to Gaza. This assumes that disrupting civilian life in Gaza will have positive political results for Israel.

Gaza's 1.5 million residents have been living with collective punishment for some time. We have endured years of border closures, aerial attacks and military operations -- measures Israel has always explained as militarily necessary. But now, Israeli politicians claim it is legitimate to deprive all of Gaza's civilians of basic needs.

Israel controls Gaza's borders and the movement of all people and goods. Since Hamas came to power in June, Israel has tightened its siege. It has banned raw materials for manufacturing and construction; only basic foodstuffs are permitted into Gaza, and exports have been halted. Gaza's economy is suffocating: Since June, 85 percent of its factories and 95 percent of its construction projects have been paralyzed. More than 70,000 people have lost their jobs. A million and a half people are locked in a pressure cooker in one of the world's most densely populated areas. Stripped of the ability to travel, receive goods or engage in productive work, Gaza's residents have become dependent on Western and Islamic aid organizations.

"Editorial: The Gaza trap". The Jakarta Post. January 5, 2008 - outside Israel, especially among developing countries and predominantly Muslim nations, there is a strong perception that Israel is a genius at portraying itself as the victim of terrorism, as if it has never committed any terrorism acts itself.

On Jan. 23, Hamas security forces blew up two-thirds of the 12-kilometer wall on the border of impoverished Gaza and Egypt to let 1.5 millions Palestinians have the chance to buy food and other commodities after being totally "imprisoned" by Israel in the last several months.

People could escape through the break in the wall to go to the Egyptian city of Rafah, but the freedom lasted only several days. The border was closed again Sunday.

It was just a temporary opening and perhaps will never happen again, unless all warring parties there -- Israel against Palestine and Hamas against Fatah -- are able to reach peace agreements. Unfortunately, so far there is very little hope, if any at all, that peace will eventually come to the troubled region.

The Palestinians have been imprisoned in their own land for several months in Gaza after Israel totally isolated the territory in retaliation against Hamas militias, while Hamas and Fatah continue killing each other at the expense of the Palestinians. The world will eventually see very costly results -- including rising terrorism -- should the tragedy continue.

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