first published at Crescent International, Eva Bartlett
[see Observations from Occupied Palestine, Part 1]
Unusually heavy torrential rains last month inundated much of Gaza, which was already reeling from a tight Israeli-Egyptian siege since 2006. Hundreds of thousands of people have been affected with more than 5,000 evacuated from their homes. Power outages of 20-22 hours daily, or complete days, have become the norm, affecting every facet of life in Gaza.
The Gaza Strip, a 40 km long, 12 km at its widest point, 365 square metre strip of land is host to 1.7 million Palestinians, two thirds of whom are refugees.
While Gaza’s suffering extends decades back, since 2006 much of the world has cut ties with Gaza, and since 2007 Israel, supported by Egyptian and Western powers, has enforced a full blockade on the Strip.
It is not merely an economic blockade, but rather a full lock-down on movement, goods, access to health care outside, and limiting the import of fuel, cooking gas, and medicines, to name some items, into the enclave. It impacts on every facet of life imaginable.
In November 2008, I joined a boat of European Parliamentarians sailing from Cyprus to the Strip, attempting to symbolically break the blockade. Apart from the act of solidarity, it was also my sole means of entering Gaza. With all but one border crossing controlled by Israel, and the remaining crossing by the complicit Mubarak rule in Egypt, entry by sea was the only option. However, the outcome was not certain: Israel also controls Palestinian waters.