Submit to Occupation, or Receive No Aid’ Israel Tells Gaza
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Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman last week announced a new policy that will essentially deprive Palestinians of basic needs unless they submit to the occupation.
Palestinians will only be able to build hospitals, schools and other basic infrastructure in areas where there is no “terrorism,” defined by Israeli authorities as any form of Palestinian resistance,
Conversely, in areas categorized as having “terrorism,” will be subject to increased security measures.
The human rights groups which include B’Tselem, Gisha and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, “urge the Israeli government to refrain from impeding the activities of these organizations, and to avoid vilifying the vital work of the aid community” they said in a statement.
They released the statement after Israel arrested two officials from two international agencies in Gaza, accusing them of helping Hamas.
“On the basis of these indictments, Israeli authorities have made sweeping, far-reaching and irresponsible allegations claiming that humanitarian operations in the Gaza Strip as a whole are connected to Hamas and serve the organization,” the statement continues.
They groups go on to say that even if the two men were guilty, “this will not detract from the importance, integrity and dedication of international humanitarian organizations assisting residents of the Gaza Strip
With as many as 1.9 million Palestinians in Gaza depending on humanitarian aid because of the ongoing occupation and relentless military assaults on the territory, this latest smear campaign against agencies will likely have a devastating impact.
Back in June, Israel detained the Gaza director of the Christian charity World Vision, interrogated and tortured him for more than 50 days, during which time he was also prevented from seeing his attorney for weeks.
He was eventually charged with diverting up to US$50 million to the military wing of Hamas; World Vision says that’s all but impossible with an organizational annual budget of just US$22.5 million. Moreover, Halabi does not solely control the group’s funds.
UNDP has also said that Israel has detained one of its employees in Gaza, accusing him of also providing assistance to Hamas for use in construction.
These allegations against aid agencies in Gaza, has many against Palestinian human rights calling to cut off humanitarian aid to Gaza altogether.
Anti-Palestinian commentator Melanie Phillips argued that Western government financing for groups like World Vision, Save the Children and Oxfam, is akin to funding the “mass murder” of Jews.
Meanwhile, Senator Marco Rubio, failed US Republican presidential candidate, has sent a letter to US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry demanding an investigation into the agencies.
“I urge you to investigate every allegation and use all resources to ensure American taxpayer dollars as well as individual private donations of Americans are not being used to fund terrorism,” Rubio wrote.
He also urged the suspension of “all U.S. assistance to Gaza until a review of the controls in place to prevent a diversion of funds can occur.”