Israel ’s siege on Gaza is vicious and cruel, and it must end immediately.
Its continuation means continued war on the basic necessities of life for the population of Gaza .
Any ordinary, decent person would assume the people of Gaza have a right to water. However, before Israel ’s attack on Gaza from December 27 2008 to January 18 2009, 80 per cent of Gaza ’s water did not meet World Health Organisation standards for drinking water. Among the reasons for this was Israel ’s refusal to allow in the chlorine needed to purify Gazan water.
When the attack started, 80 per cent of Gaza ’s water wells functioned only partially. Afterwards, 70 per cent did. Worse than this, as a partial consequence of what the Goldstone Report called Israel ’s “large-scale and systematic destruction of greenhouses”, the water supply of Gaza is on the verge of collapse. Meanwhile, parents have little choice but to give their babies polluted drinking water. This water damages babies’ blood: their skin turns blue, and they suffer respiratory and intestinal problems.
Israel also refuses to allow reparations on Gaza ’s water supply to begin. The Israeli government lets in so little food that the growth of Palestinian children is being stunted. The food that they eat overwhelmingly comes in the form of humanitarian aid. Gazans might have fed themselves, but their chicken farms and flour mill were also destroyed in Israel ’s attack at the start of the year.
Those of us who oppose the blockade believe that Palestinians deserve food. Palestinian babies should be allowed to drink water that doesn’t injure them. Palestinian children should not have their growth stunted.
Palestinians in Gaza have the right to live in dignity. This right needs defending. A small group of Australian activists have recognised this, and will join contingents from 42 other countries around the world, in the Gazan Freedom March. On December 31, they will march through Gaza to the Israeli border, in order to break the blockade. Their cause is just, and we support them fully.
We urge our government to support their march. We urge our government to ensure the safety of every Australian risking his or her life in the struggle for Palestinian rights.