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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Amnesty's incitement against Israel (UPDATED)

I have noted here many times that Israel has no restrictions of diesel and petroleum into Gaza, outside of the physical amount that can be transferred via the pipeline at Kerem Shalom. (As far as I can tell, that pipeline has never reached capacity.)

The current Gaza fuel crisis started when Hamas decided in 2011 that it didn't want fuel from Israel and instead chose to run Gaza's power plant with Egyptian fuel, sold by smugglers at lower prices that reflected the subsidy that Egypt gives all its petroleum. When Hamas' Muslim Brotherhood patrons lost power, Hamas lost its source of fuel as the smuggling tunnels were closed.

Now, instead of paying market prices (and PA taxes), Hamas chose to let the Gaza power plant shut down, causing a cascading crisis as water treatment plants, water pumps and other essential infrastructure gets shut off. This was a cynical decision on Hamas' part, as they gambled that the resulting media coverage about the crisis they started would pressure Egypt, Qatar, the PA and perhaps Gulf countries to provide fuel at a discount again.

Amnesty International chooses to blame Israel, though.
Israel must immediately lift its blockade on the Gaza Strip, including by allowing the delivery of fuel and other essential supplies into the territory without restrictions, said Amnesty International today.

“This latest harsh setback has exacerbated the assault on the dignity of Palestinians in Gaza and the massive denial of rights they have experienced for more than six years because of Israel’s blockade, together with restrictions imposed by Egypt,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

“The blockade has collectively punished Gaza’s population in violation of international law. The power plant shutdown has further affected all aspects of daily life, and the Israeli authorities must lift the blockade immediately, starting by allowing urgently needed fuel supplies into the Strip and working with all relevant parties to avert a prolonged humanitarian crisis this winter.”

“The reason for the flood of sewage was the blockade,” a resident of al-Zaytoun told Amnesty International. “The question is, why is the blockade being allowed to continue? What is our crime? There is no justification for this situation. We just want to live like any other people in the world.”
I'll put it in large letters so Amnesty can understand:

ISRAEL ALLOWS FUEL INTO GAZA. 
HAMAS DOESN'T.

At the very end of the anti-Israel screed, Amnesty decides to do a little CYA:
Continuing disputes between the Hamas de facto administration in the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority over payment and taxes are also a factor in the current crisis. Both authorities must co-operate so that the power plant again receives a steady supply of fuel and can resume operations.
This isn't the first time Amnesty chose to ignore facts and blame Israel for Gaza's fuel woes. But this is even worse, as it starkly reveals Amnesty's anti-Israel bias.

My only question is - what exactly is it demanding Israel do to help provide fuel for Gaza? Already Israel agreed to pump free fuel from Qatar via Kerem Shalom, in a story I broke first:

Qatar recently offered to transfer to Hamas large amounts of fuel which it holds in storage tanks in Egypt, but the Palestinian Authority has objected. According to the Paris accords reached with Israel, it is entitled to collect value added tax on goods coming into the territories. Israel has agreed to transport Qatari oil from Israel, after unloading it in Ashdod, but the proposal has met with opposition. Over the last few days, intense negotiations have been held between Qatar, the Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority, in an attempt to resolve the problem and overcome the dire fuel shortage in Gaza.
So what exactly does Amnesty expect of Israel? Free fuel? Should Israel invade Gaza to physically place fuel into the power plant (if Israel is the legal occupier of Gaza, then the answer is probably yes!)

This press release proves one thing: Amnesty's bias against Israel is systemic and embedded. There is no way to spin this absurd, counter-factual press release as anything other than pure antipathy for Israel.

Even worse, it shows that Amnesty's concern over actual human rights of Gazans is dwarfed by its bias against Israel. Downplaying the roles of Hamas and Egypt in the crisis, and instead demanding Israel do something it already does, actually increases Gaza's suffering because it distracts from the reality and the actual steps needed to bring fuel to Gaza.

Amnesty should be embarrassed by such an absurd statement. Decent reporters, NGOs and governments should call Amnesty to task for abandoning its true purpose and instead choosing to use its "human rights "platform to incite against Israel.

Because that is what this is - incitement.

UPDATE: Amnesty returned my phone call for comment.