Sunday, November 17, 2013

Amnesty falsely blames Israel for Gaza fuel woes

On November 1, I wrote:

Get ready for more heartbreaking photos of Gaza children using candlelight and riding donkeys and blaming Israel for the "siege".

The truth is, Israel has been providing all the fuel needed both for petroleum and for the Gaza power plant - but Gazans haven't been paying for it.
Right on schedule, Ma'an has both published the photos I predicted and blamed Israel:

The lack of diesel fuel is a result of the tightening of a 7-year-long blockade imposed on the territory by Israel with Egyptian support.
No, it is because Hamas - which finds money for building terror tunnels - refuses to pay market prices for fuel (and the PA tacks on taxes Hamas doesn't want to pay).

But it is not only a second-rate Palestinian Arab newssite that is pushing the lie that Israel's blockade is responsible for Gaza's fuel shortage.

Amnesty International is, also, albeit a bit more subtly.

Yonatan Gher, Director of Amnesty International Israel, writes in (where else?) +972 magazine:

[I]f the fear of more deadly attacks wasn’t bad enough, those living in Gaza have to contend with the disastrous effects of Israel’s continuing land, sea and air blockade of the territory, together with restrictions imposed by Egypt. Gazans lack safe drinking water, face 12-hour power outages on a daily basis, and many struggle to access basic necessities such as adequate food and medicines.

These hardships were compounded on November 1 of this year when Gaza’s sole power plant was forced to shut down due to lack of fuel, further jeopardizing vital health and sanitation services.

“The world has forgotten Gaza, its women and children. The blockade is as bad as the war; it’s like a slow death for everyone in Gaza..."

The world continues to look the other way when it comes to the blockade on Gaza, which collectively punishes 1.7 million civilians. This stark violation of international law has been allowed to continue for more than six years. Unless Israeli and Palestinian leaders demonstrate political will to protect civilians –on both sides – the cycle of violations will become a recurring nightmare.
Let's recap the recent history of Gaza's power plant:

Israel was providing fuel up through at least the beginning of 2011. Hamas decided it wanted cheaper fuel so it stopped the shipments from Israel and converted the power plant to use cheaper, subsidized, smuggled fuel from Egypt. (It also restricted cooking gas from Israel.) Egypt offered to provide fuel but insisted that Hamas import it through Israel's Kerem Shalom, Hamas refused. It created an artificial "crisis" when Egypt started cracking down on fuel smuggling (even under the Morsi government, in 2012), and as a result Qatar provided free fuel for a while. After Egypt started destroying smuggling tunnels, some private Gazans started purchasing fuel from Israel again in August.

There have been no Israeli restrictions on fuel to Gaza for years. Kerem Shalom's pipelines into Gaza have not been operating close to capacity.

Similarly, there are no restrictions from Israel on food or medicines into Gaza. There were never restrictions on medicines and there have been no food restrictions since 2009.

Gaza's water treatment problems are, again,  directly because of Hamas refusing to pay the higher prices for fuel and hoping, yet again, that Qatar or Egypt or someone else will be shamed into giving them free or subsidized fuel.

Yet Amnesty is placing the bulk of the blame on Israel. (It is not blaming Hamas here for its cynical part of the fuel crisis, but for rockets to Israel in order to appear even-handed.)

To Amnesty, Hamas has no culpability in creating an artificial fuel crisis for Gaza. Hamas has money for kidnap tunnels, and even shows them off on Al Jazeera, but "human rights organization" Amnesty is mum about that.

Egypt's role in shutting Gaza off completely is drastically downplayed, and is barely mentioned by Amnesty. (The Rafah crossing has now been closed for ten consecutive days, and Amnesty doesn't have a word to say about that either.)

Even Hamas doesn't blame Israel as much for the fuel shortage as Amnesty does!

From this article, Amnesty is showing that it isn't interested in solving the problems of Gaza nearly as much as it simply wants to reflexively blame Israel for all of Gaza's problems.

This isn't about human rights. This is pure anti-Israel advocacy.