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By: Municipality of Al-Nusirat Refugee Camp
Translated by Yousef M. Aljamal- CPDS, Gaza.
The siege imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip is regarded as one of the most brutal and repressive sieges ; particularly as it has its economical and political motives, both in the long and short term. It differs from other sieges in modern history in terms of practice and goals. It is in no way like the siege imposed by the imperial powers on the Russian Revolution in 1917, the siege imposed on the Cuban Revolution and of Iraq and Northern Korea sieges.
Firstly, the siege aims to dismantle the political, economical, social, and cultural structures of the entire Palestinian people and secondly to deepen the rifts in society. It aims to push the Palestinian people to a state of depression through multi-layers of deprivation and misery, which leads to a state of confusion regarding the struggle with Israel and steadfastness and defiance in resisting it. So, resistance becomes a secondary priority after the priority of providing the minimum level of decent life, which is also linked to seeing no light at the end of the tunnel of the political process. This deepens the problem of unemployment and poverty, which leads to more despair and depression.
In addition to this, Palestinians have been subjected to a further tightening of the siege; they have been going through uncertainty and depression, which may lead them to a state where they have no more patience. They feel no hope of achieving their national aspirations. Food coupons, funded by foreign donors, become a refuge to the deprived people in a society where unemployment-which increased after the brutal attack of 2008-2009- is a common thing.
Palestinians depend largely on foreign donors. At this time Arab countries play very little role in supporting Palestinian goals and economy. This is not a weird thing, for the Arab regimes are subject to the imperial powers and they fully implement their agendas.
The siege increased the loss of the economical structure of the Gaza Strip, because of the scarcely available materials , most of the factories stopped. The same is applicable to the agricultural sector which stopped importing goods. This comes along with deteriorating imports and
exports like never before. Some companies ended up bankrupt in Gaza too.
Israel economically tightened its siege on Gaza, closed its crossings, canceled its customs revenue code, declined businessmen/women permits to travel abroad, stopped material needed for industry, tightened its grip on banks and reduced the amount of currency (New Israeli Shekel NIS) getting into Gaza, sanctioned banks, closed trade crossings, and halted import and export – all of which led to worsening the economic status. This comes along with the remarkable increase of unemployment and poverty, which led to more anxiety, despair and the feeling of absence of any political solution.
The siege effect on fuel supplies and electricity
Electricity shortage to Gazans is a daily occurrence, which reflects the suffering the siege imposed on them. This has had its negative effect on all activities and all walks of life including health, society and physiology. Gaza has suffered from indirect and direct loss, as a result of fuel and electricity shortage.
According to a report published by the society of the owners of petrol stations in Gaza, the daily demand of the inhabitants of the Gaza strip of fuel is 350,000 litres, 120,000 litres of Benz, and 350 tons of manufactured fuel to run Gaza sole power plant. The amount of fuel entering the Gaza strip decreased sharply after the decision of the Israeli government in November 2007 to decrease it to 90,000 liters, which means 74% of decrease. Benz decreased to 25,000 liters, which means 79% of decrease. Gas decreased to 1000 tons, which means 71% of decrease. All concerned sectors, including government and smugglers had to find alternative solutions to secure the amount of fuel and gas that the Gaza Strip needed, mainly via the tunnels connecting Gaza with Egypt.
The effect of siege on water
The Israeli occupation committed many crimes against Palestinian water resources in the last century. The Gaza Strip has been suffering from lack of water and the inability to control it. The Underground water is the only resource to provide the Gaza Strip with water. Some 170 million liters of underground water are being consumed a year, without any markedincrease of alternative natural water which comes from rain, which amounts to 120 million liters of water.
The underground water is polluted as a result of pouring sewage without treatment, chemicals and hard disposal . Gazans are prevented from making use of the valleys water by the building of dams and digging of wells at the northern eastern borders of Gaza.
The Palestinian government tried to solve this problem by adopting many policies related to water and national strategies and implementing projects to improve water resources in Palestine. However, the Israeli occupation is doing its best to ruin these projects by destroying wells, shutting down garbage disposal and sewage treatment units , preventing implementation of any project and destroying green areas.
Gaza municipalities were affected by the siege and suffered too much while implementing projects, including infrastructure projects. The wheel of providing services moves too slowly as some donors don't want to give any amount of money to the municipalities because they are run by the Palestinian government in the Gaza Strip.