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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Amnesty doesn't think the intifada ever happened

Reading the latest Amnesty UK report slamming Israel on not doing enough for Gaza is an unreal experience. Sprinkled throughout the report are comparisons and statistics that simply ignore the second intifada and Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, all for the singular purpose of making Israel look as bad as possible.

Here are some examples:
Gaza’s economic output per capita is today 40% lower than it was in 1994, at the start of the Oslo peace process.
Why are they comparing Gaza's economy today with its 1994 economy? The implication is that Israel's commitment to Oslo is a sham, as the economy of Gaza has gone down - due to Israeli actions - since that agreement was signed.

However, the economy in the territories was doign extraordinarily well in the years 1994-1999. Real GDP growth in 1997 was 12.2%, in 1998 it was 11.8% and in 1999 it was 8.9%. And then in 2000, with the intifada, it plummeted: -5.4% in 2000, -15.4% in 2001 and -9.4% in 2002. I don't have the Gaza figures separately, but the closing of the Erez industrial zone and the border closure because of the constant terror attacks threw tens of thousands of Gazans out of work. The withdrawal from Gaza cost many more jobs as well. The reason that Gaza's economy is in shambles is because of a policy of terror that was created by the Palestinian Arabs, not because of Israel's reaction to save its citizen's lives. But to Amnesty, the intifada never happened, and Israel is still "occupying" a territory in which is has no people.
Overall ban on exit and entry still in place. No expansion of the few exceptional categories of Palestinians allowed to travel through Israeli controlled crossings. Number of exits below 1% of 2000 levels.
Again, Amnesty ignored the terror spree and rockets from Gaza as a reason why Israel doesn't want Gazans to have the free access to Israel that they had before 2000.

But beyond that, even though the paper is entitled "Dashed Hopes - Continuation of the Gaza Blockade," it doesn't mention Egypt's role in the blockade - or Egypt's opening of the Rafah border. In this case, Amnesty says that the number of exits through Israeli crossings is down - but they ignore Egypt's crossings which has increased Gazans' mobility. Why do they only speak about Israeli crossings in this statistic, and why do they ignore Egypt's role in blockading Gaza? The only possible answer is because the report is not meant to help Gazans but to castigate Israel.

Even in cases where the real statistics can make Israel look bad, Amnesty specifically bends the numbers to make Israel look worse:

In fact, the UN reports that Gaza requires 670,000 truckloads of construction material, while only an average of 715 of these truckloads have been received per month since the ‘easing’ was announced.

Even if we accept that the UN statistic is accurate, Amnesty is comparing the numbers of the total amount needed with what Israel allowed in an average month. Amnesty could have said that Israel allowed 3600 truckloads of construction material since the easing - but that makes Israel sound better than saying "715 truckloads per month."

Amnesty also says that "Access to around 35% of Gaza’s farmland...remains restricted by the Israeli ‘buffer zone’," a nebulous claim that seems to confuse "arable land" with "farmland."

Amnesty's recommendations also ignore the human rights of Israelis to live in safety:
The international community must do its part to ensure that its repeated
appeals to end the blockade are finally heeded.

1) Launch a new, concerted diplomatic initiative for an immediate,unconditional and complete lifting of the blockade, including:
• allowing movement of people including humanitarian staff into and out of Gaza;
• allowing exports from Gaza;
• allowing entry of construction materials including those for the private sector;
• allowing entry of raw materials;
• expanding operations of the crossings;
• lifting restrictions on fuel imports;
• ensuring access to Gaza’s agricultural land and fishing grounds and the protection of civilians in these areas.
And, if Amnesty's recommendations were to be implemented, unrestricted imports of weapons and long-range missiles would be allowed into Gaza as well.

Not to mention that the only way to have unrestricted movement of goods to and from Gaza would mean no crossings at all - simply tear down the fence and let terrorists have all the access they want to export their human bombs to Israel.

The entire report does not use the word "intifada" or "terror" or "rockets" once. The context of Israel's relationship with Gaza in light of the actions of Hamas and its allies is almost completely missing. And, as we have seen, Amnesty's recommendations would directly translate into a new reign of terror for residents of southern Israel - and beyond.

Apparently, Amnesty and the other "human rights" organizations that prepared this biased report are not the least bit interested in the human rights of Israelis.