Wednesday, January 29, 2014

PALESTINE: Children starve while the world and the UN look on

Stewart Sloan

Due to the ethnic conflict between Israel and Palestine a blockade has been imposed on most of the country of Palestine. The supply of electricity and running water has been cut off and Palestinian commerce virtually brought to a halt due to the stringent travel restrictions imposed by the Israelis. This has brought the economy to a standstill but it is not so much a case of not having enough money to buy food but rather the fact that there is no food to buy.

Added to this the wanton destruction of Palestinian homes and farms by Israeli settlers is ongoing and no alternative accommodation is provided, meaning that entire families, parents, grandparents, children and infants are left to face the elements and fend for themselves. Olive trees that were planted 50 years ago are being uprooted and destroyed to discourage farmers from returning to the property they have owned and farmed for generations.

The United Nations has declared 2014 to be the Year of Palestinian Solidarity which can only be a good thing. However, in the past, UN interventions in countries around the world have been disappointing at best and the question that begs to be asked is why has the UN not taken action to relieve the suffering of the Palestinian people up to now? In comments made elsewhere the author has made no effort to conceal his disgust at the lack of action by the UN and the seeming indifference of Ban Ki Moon to the suffering of the Palestinians.

Hundreds if not thousands of children, elderly people and the vulnerable face death due to malnourishment within days, not weeks or months. Again, it must be asked, why has this situation been allowed to reach this stage?

International bodies have attempted on several occasions to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza by sending ships laden with food and supplies. Despite the fact that these ships were not carrying weapons or arms but only food and medical supplies the Israelis prevented them from entering port and on one occasion even opened fire on a ship, killing several crew members. In 2012 Israel even demanded that the UN intervene to stop the Estelle, a ship sailing under the Swedish flag from entering Gaza, referring to them as "...less moral than Viking raiders".

There is a humanitarian crisis occurring in Palestine now! It is not hidden. It is happening in full view of the international community,including the United States of American who continues to support Israel and threatens to boycott any action that might be taken against them in the United Nations. Indeed, a newly elected American mayor announced in public that part of his work was to support Israel. At a private gala event hosted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) at the Hilton hotel in midtown Manhattan New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said that "part of his job description is to defend Israel". He went on to say, “……it is "elemental to being an American, because there is no greater ally on earth, and that's something we can say proudly." I wonder just how many Americans he is speaking for because I know a great many that want nothing to do with any support for the Zionist regime.

In a recent report it was announced that there is an internal revolt at OXFAM, an organization that provides food for thousands of needy persons around the world because OXFAM America refuses to support any cause that might be detrimental to Israel’s interests. OXFAM, who has been doing a great deal of good for decades is in danger of losing its credibility in the international arena because of the support of its Global Ambassadors, Scarlett Johansson. In one article published recently it was admitted that, “Although Oxfam has done a lot of lobbying both publicly and privately on the issue of Israeli settlements, it has faced intense resistance from Oxfam America”.

Perhaps America and the UN might answer this simple question: What possible advantage can be had by condemning innocent children, the elderly and anyone else for that matter to a slow death by starvation?

Stewart Sloan is a published author and works as an editor in a regional human rights NGO based in Hong Kong. He became interested in the situation of Palestine several months ago through contact with his friends. This is his first article on this issue and he would welcome the opportunity of becoming more deeply involved. Stewart may be contacted at

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