Besieged Gaza Two Years After Cast Lead

December 28 was Cast Lead’s second anniversary, a three week onslaught inflicting an appalling human, destructive and environmental toll. The war ended. Regular attacks continued, and Gaza remains suffocating under siege. Yet world leaders are doing nothing to end it or hold Israeli war criminals accountable.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) said “Gaza remains sealed-off from the outside world (after) the single most brutal event in” the occupation’s history, and “impunity for war crimes prevails.”

To date, victims’ rights have been unaddressed. International law remains ignored. Indisputable war crimes were airbrushed from history. Israeli war criminals were shielded from justice. Only three lower-ranking soldiers were convicted for war-related offenses. One was for credit card theft, two others for using a nine year old boy as a human shield. Israeli government officials who ordered war, generals and top commanders who planned and implemented it, and other complicit figures were uncharged and unpunished.

World leader silence condoned them. The rule of law was trashed for imperial Israel, including allowing it to slowly suffocate over 1.5 million Gazans. Moreover, a newly released WikiLeaks cable says Israel plans major wars on Gaza and Lebanon. More on them below.

Preventing Gaza’s Reconstruction

On December 21, the Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement asked “Who will rebuild Gaza?” Six months after Israel’s cabinet decision to ease closure, a new Gisha report headlined “Reconstructing the Closure: Will recent changes to the closure policy be enough to build in Gaza,” saying:

Despite the cabinet’s decision, Israel continues to ban the entrance of steel, gravel and cement, (essential) items which are not considered to be dual-use according to international standards.” Narrow exceptions only were allowed with “burdensome bureaucratic strings attached.

For most items, Israel bogusly claims Hamas may use construction materials to build bunkers and “enhance its military capability” in other ways. As a result, little rebuilding progress has been made. Gaza remains in ruins, and over 1.5 million Palestinians struggle daily to cope.

For example, from July 6 – December 6, 2010, only 744 truckloads of cement, gravel and steel entered Gaza for international projects. In addition, up to 900 tons of concrete (equaling 36 truckloads), 300 tons of steel, or 250 tons of gravel move through tunnels on any given day. Though way short of enough, whatever’s supplied helps. In contrast, prior to June 2007 (when siege began), over 5,000 truckloads of these materials came in monthly. Israel is determined to suffocate Gazans, committing the equivalent of slow-motion genocide.

Ongoing Gaza Displacement

On December 27, the Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights new report headlined, “On-going Displacement: Gaza’s Displaced Two Years after the War,” saying:

Two years after Cast Lead, “tens of thousands of Gaza residents continue to live a life of displacement” because of Israel’s suffocating siege. As a result, they’ve gotten little “meaningful relief (or) their right to adequate housing.”

After Cast Lead ended, UN Under Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes, said it’s “absolutely critical that (construction) material(s) be allowed into Gaza on a regular and hopefully free basis.”

For over two years, Israel’s prevented them, collectively punishing tens of thousands of Gazans, unable to rebuild their homes and lives. Gaza’s Ministry of Housing and Public Works said 51,553 homes were destroyed or damaged. Of these, 3,336 were completed demolished and 4,021 sustained major damages.

Most aid Gazans got came from Hamas, the UN Development Program (UNDP), and UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Other agencies also provided materials, equipment and food. Also, families whose homes were totally destroyed got cash. Refugee homeless families received about $5,000 from Hamas and a comparable amount from UNWRA. Others whose properties sustained major damage got about $2,500 from Hamas and another $3,000 from UNWRA.

Non-refugee families were also helped, amounts based on whether their homes were entirely or partially destroyed. Families who lost properties have been most harmed, needing alternate shelter, mostly in leased apartments until their homes are rebuilt.

Based on a random survey from its “home demolitions” database among families whose homes were entirely destroyed, Al Mezan estimates:

— 93.3% of families haven’t gotten rebuilding help so must live elsewhere;

— 13.3% rebuilt their homes; 86.6% can’t do it because they didn’t receive enough help;

— 56.6% have rented homes or apartments; of those, 41.2 % (23.3% of the total) get regular assistance, covering their full rent expense; another 35.3% receive only partial help;  33.3% get no help for rent;

— 10% live in houses other than their own;  6.7% live with relatives or their families;  10% live in tents;

— 30% had to move their children to new schools;

— 66.7% said alternative housing doesn’t provide comfort and privacy like their own; and

— 86.7% are dissatisfied with how service providers handled home demolition and destruction problems.

A second survey among families whose homes were partially destroyed showed findings only modestly better, except that:

— 83.3% were living in their own residences, despite damage; and

— 43.3% were dissatisfied with service providers, half the percentage of homeless families.

Overall, however, Gaza remains in crisis, ongoing since June 2007, and exacerbated by Cast Lead destruction, atrocities, regular assaults, little concern by the international community, and no accountability for Israeli war criminals. Occupied Palestine’s history shows sustained justice denied, especially in Gaza under siege.

Another Lebanon and Gaza War?

A disclaimer: nations like Israel and America regularly prepare operational plans for wars that never are fought. Why? So they’re ready in case they are. For example, America’s Afghanistan war began on October 7, 2001, four weeks post-9/11, a conflict that took months to plan.

It’s also true for Israel’s 2006 Lebanon war and Cast Lead. Neither was impromptu following pretexts cited to launch them. They were in place many months in advance as are preparations for all wars. In other words, plans alone don’t automatically mean war. Most often, they don’t. However, given the belligerent history of America and Israel, information suggesting more war can’t be discounted. Too many previous ones were waged so sooner or later expect another.

Juan Cole writes regularly for his Informed Comment site, on January 2 headlining “WikiLeaks: Israel Plans Total War on Lebanon, Gaza,” saying:

Norway’s Aftenposten newspaper “summarized an Israeli military briefing by Israeli Chief of Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi” for US congressional members over a year ago, saying:

The memo on the talks….as well as numerous other documents from the same period, to which Aftenposten has gained access, leave a clear message: The Israeli military is forging ahead at full speed with preparations for a new war in the Middle East.

Cole emphasized “serious and specific” preparations, not contingency planning. US cables quoted Ashkenazi saying:

I’m preparing the Israeli army for a major war, since it is easier to scale down to a smaller operation than to do the opposite….In the next war Israel cannot accept any restrictions on warfare in urban areas.

Neither did Israel’s last two conflicts in 2006 against Lebanon and Cast Lead, under its “Dayiya Doctrine,” named after the Beirut suburb destroyed in summer 2006. It reflected how future wars would be fought as IDF Northern Command head Gabi Eisenkot explained at the time, saying:

What happened in the Dayiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. We will apply disproportionate force at the heart of the enemy’s weak spot (civilians and non-military targets) and cause great damage and destruction. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages (towns or cities), they are military bases. This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved.

Cast Lead (like Lebanon 2006) showed that civilians and non-military targets are attacked freely without cause to inflict maximum damage, deaths, injuries and human misery – “Dayiya.”

Whether or not true, Ashkenazi and America’s State Department claim Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah amassed large stockpiles of rockets, threatening Israel. In fact, no nation endangered Israel since the 1973 war, and given its dominant regional strength, none does so now. Other nations’ weapons are purely defensive and no match for Israel, nuclear-armed and dangerous.

Cole observes that Israel “could have a peace treaty with Syria and Lebanon tomorrow by giving back the Golan Heights and the Shebaa Farms….” For decades, Palestinians have also sought peace, but Israel chooses conflict. So does America.

As a result, Cole fears that Washington’s support for Israeli belligerence will incite inevitable blowback, “finally finish(ing) off the (few remaining) civil liberties enshrined in the American Constitution.” Already on life support, they need only a shove to be cut off.

Stephen Lendman wrote How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War. Contact him at: Also visit his blog site and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Mondays from 11AM-1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening. Read other articles by Stephen.

6 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. mary said on January 5th, 2011 at 10:12am #

    It was both depressing and galling to learn today that John Ging of the UN speaks with a forked tongue.


    I sometimes say the UN is there to perpetuate/prolong misery. And in Gaza and in the other ‘camps’ as in Lebanon, that has gone on for 62 years WITHOUT any honest attempts to bring a solution. Vile and evil.

    Also Blair, Regev and Errekat were given space on BBC Radio 4 today to decide on the future of Palestine following an outline from Jeremy Bowen, ZBC’s ME Editor. It is all too depressing.

    {} 5 mins in.

    Bliar lived up to his name in saying that there has been three times more ‘stuff’ going into Gaza last year. Three times more than what wasn’t made clear by this slipperry war criminal. His ‘facts’ are at odds with Mr Lendman’s figures andway and I know who I believe. Bliar concluded by hinting at support for a war on Iran.

  2. bozh said on January 5th, 2011 at 10:50am #

    yes, of course,
    every israel crime portended another. so, more wars as long there is lebanon, palestina, and syria.
    and in conjunction with u.s. or nato or nato-us , more wars for sure.

    too bad the ‘jewish’ wall on palestinian soil wasn’t the chinese wall of separation!

    let’s face it! planet is not getting bigger. in fact, it is getting poorer in ?all ways by day. and yet pop rises!
    smthing gotta give! actually, nothing is going to give that had not been happening for at least 10kyrs!

    communists knew this! that’s why they had always been demonized by clerico-noble people and always will! tnx

  3. bozh said on January 5th, 2011 at 11:02am #

    ‘sorry’ about my pedestrian english. had i listened to my younger sister [ she had all the brains in the family] and attended school as she urged me, my english cld have been as polished as that of obama.

    and then u’d have a justifiable cause to throw stones at me. this way, with my english as is, u can laugh, instead. that’s lot better than crying, isn’t it?

    as my small head says to me: look, bob, speak so that everybody can understand u and not just me! also spricht bozhidarevski. fala

  4. Ismail Zayid said on January 5th, 2011 at 11:52am #

    Stephen Lendman and others nust realise that, in the eyes of Israel and the leaders of the Western world, the so-called Free world, the suffering of the people in Gaza is perfectly acceptable. After all, they are only Palestinians and Arabs, and they are, evicently, in their eyes, less than human. Furthermore, in the eyes of the US and its allies, Israel is above international law and all its war crimes must be overlooked……

  5. hayate said on January 5th, 2011 at 10:20pm #

    The genocidal goatsods are getting ready to do it again:

    Hopes of Gaza cast in lead

    Israel is gearing up for another major offensive into Gaza, yet the world community still remains bafflingly silent.

    Richard Falk Last Modified: 04 Jan 2011 14:11 GMT

    “It is dismaying that during this dark anniversary period two years after the launch of the deadly attacks on the people of Gaza – code-named Operation Cast Lead by the Israelis – that there should be warnings of a new massive attack on the beleaguered people of Gaza….”


  6. mary said on January 6th, 2011 at 2:07am #

    ZBC’s propaganda machine was at work this morning. Their Jerusalem reporter Wyre Davies was hyping up the likelihood for war in the ME citing Israel’s need for security! (YCMIU = You couldn’t make it up)

    I had switched off by this point but see that they were at it again later on.

    Fears of war in the Middle East are growing following the breakdown of talks between Israel and Palestine, and with Lebanon on the brink of a major political and social upheaval. As the EU foreign affairs representative, Baroness Ashton, remains in Israel and the US envoy Dennis Ross returns to the area, Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen examines the prospects for conflict in the region. ‘

    with a further blurb – Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen analyses the possibility of war in the Middle East. And professor of Middle East politics and international relations at LSE, Fawaz Gerges, shares his concerns over the fragile situation.