"Nowhere in the article were the words “occupation” or “occupied” used or an explanation of ‘collective punishment’ provided to help readers understand the context or the background of the current protests."
September 20, 2023
The American broadcaster, Paul Harvey’s words, “…the rest of the story” came to mind while reading the article ‘Main crossing with Gaza shut after outbreak of border violence”. The distance from the border crossing to Tel Aviv in Israel is about 19 kilometers, approximately the same distance as from West Kelowna to Peachland – a distance that I travel whenever I choose and without any barriers or obstacles. This is not the daily reality for the 2,000,000 Palestinians living in Gaza.
Nowhere in the article were the words “occupation” or “occupied” used or an explanation of ‘collective punishment’ provided to help readers understand the context or the background of the current protests. Legal experts and the International Committee of the Red Cross agree that the Gaza Strip is occupied territory on the basis that Israel still exercises control over it, including over its borders (airspace, sea and land – with the exception of the border with Egypt).
On any given day, it is extremely difficult for Palestinians to exit Gaza – no one crosses the border without being granted an exit permit by Israel and submitting to lengthy security checks. As the article indicated these crossings can be closed at any time. Israeli rejections of exit permits are explained as being for security reasons, with no further explanation given. Whether you are a patient seeking medical treatment, a married couple trying to reunite, a student trying to study in the occupied West Bank or abroad, a businessman trying to import goods, or just a regular Gazan trying to leave for a holiday, you are essentially prisoners in what the UN and other organizations have referred to as an ‘open-air prison’.
As an occupying power, international humanitarian law requires Israel to ensure that the basic needs of the population of Gaza are met and that no person may be punished for acts that he or she did not commit. By this most recent border closing, Israel is essentially collectively punishing all the Palestinians living in Gaza by preventing essential goods and supplies from entering and preventing Palestinians from leaving to work in Israel.
On September 21 each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres recently said, "Peace is needed today more than ever”. I would add including but not limited to Gaza.
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