When human rights violations go unanswered
Published: Sunday, December 1, 2013
Updated: Sunday, December 1, 2013 21:12
Just imagine having to wade through your own feces every morning on your way to Laurel Hall. Better yet, during lunch you have to wait knee deep in urine to get a slice of pizza. Oh I forgot to mention, you do not have access to boots; instead you tie plastic bags around your legs to prevent the putrid waste from seeping into your already spoiled clothes. This nightmare is a stark reality in one region of the world: Gaza City, Palestine.
Due to a recent fuel shortage, the Hamas government has been forced to shut down its only power plant, causing the Gaza City pump station to flood. For the past two weeks raw sewage has been flooding the streets of Gaza City, threatening a health crisis.
After Egypt’s military ousted its democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi, fuel imports to Gaza have come to a halt. According to the New York Times, Egypt’s military regime had destroyed several smuggling tunnels that have been utilized by Palestinians to important essential goods, such as fuel, in order to maintain a form of economic existence. About 1 million liters– 260,000 gallons– of diesel were smuggled into Gaza each day, according to the Times.
Not only does this extension of the blockade pose a health crisis, it also poses an environmental threat. According to the Times, 3.5 million cubic feet of raw sewage is spilling into the Mediterranean Sea each day. This amount of waste is roughly equivalent to filling Gampel Pavilion from top to bottom with waste and pouring it into the Mediterranean each week.
According to the Times, Gaza city requires 400 megawatts of electricity daily to stay afloat. Currently, the Palestinians are generating a mere 140 megawatts of electricity. Hospitals in Gaza are rationing electricity to support dialysis and life support machines. Businesses and schools are closing early due to lack of sanitation and electricity. Furthermore, sanitation officials in Gaza said that if these conditions continue, fresh water will not be able to be pumped into homes.
This newest form of punishment towards the Palestinians is a violation against the most fundamentals of human rights and highlights the extent of Palestine’s deteriorating state.
This sewage crisis comes a year after the violence between Palestine and Israel, which spanned eight days and killed 167 Palestinians and 6 Israelis. Furthermore, since Israel’s 2007 ban on civilian goods such as notebooks, newspapers, sugar and paper, Gaza City has deteriorated under the eyes of its own children. By 2020 Gaza will be unlivable according to a UN report published last year. Although Gaza’s conditions directly stem from Israel’s repeated massacres against Gaza and its Zionist policies, Israel does not deserve all the blame. Instead it is the faults of the international community for allowing such crimes against humanity to occur under their watch.
As reported by The Daily Campus, Israel became the first country to ever boycott United Nations Human Rights Council review. Israel has maintained an apartheid regime and imperialist military since its existence in 1948.
As Israel destroyed homes, power plants, schools and families, the entire world stood to watch. One country even applauded the apartheid regime and rewarded Israel with a financial bonus. Ironically this same country stands for “freedom and justice for all.” Neighboring countries like Egypt have supported Israel’s government as they shut down vital supply routes to Gaza.
Palestine is seen in the eyes of many as a harbor for terrorists, but in reality the real terrorists are the Israeli military and politicians arguing for unequivocal Zionist platform.
But there is hope.
Just two days ago, 50 public figures in Britain, including famous musicians and writers, have protested against Israel’s Prawer Plan, its newest plan to forcibly remove 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins from their Palestinian desert.
Furthermore, while Turkey recently donated $850,000 to Gaza to temporary alleviate the shortage in fuel supply, this is only a short-term solution.
There needs to be dialogue between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and violence should not be part of it. Israel needs to be blockaded, not Gaza. Human rights violations should not be left unanswered. Both Israel and Palestine must enter into honest and fruitful discussions. It may be foolish to expect Israel to benevolently give Palestinians justice; history has shown that it must be demanded. And when those who demand it are too weak, it becomes the obligation of the international community to act either through diplomacy or sanctions. Attaining peace and justice will only come when the systematic destruction of Palestinian life, livelihood and property has ended.