Israel Tightens The Noose Around Gaza’s Neck (Heinz Leitner)

It’s been two months since a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Gaza was agreed to following Israel’s 51 days of relentless shelling and massacring of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip, and efforts to rebuild after the destruction have only just gotten underway. After committing what were undoubtedly war crimes by any objective standard, one would think this would be the perfect time for the world to force Israel to lift its cruel and inhumane 8-year siege on Gaza which is literally suffocating the Strip’s inhabitants. However, it appears the Israeli regime, with the complicity of the so-called “Palestinian Authority” and even the UN, is tightening the siege even further by implementing the most appalling and invasive rebuilding measures imaginable. This is according to attendees who were present for a briefing in Jerusalem about the details of the new plans. The plans were laid out by the director of the United Nations Office for Project Services, Nicholas O’Regan, and are based on agreements made in secret between Israel, the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas, and UN envoy Robert Serry – not one of them actually representing the people of Gaza. Details of the briefing were leaked to The Guardian and The Electronic Intifada by attendees who chose to remain anonymous because they’d not been given authorization to speak about the plans, with O’Regan even warning attendees, “Be careful what you put out from this meeting. Don’t undermine this. Think about all the people who want to have their houses rebuilt.”

The destruction visited on Gaza during Israel’s inanely-named “Operation Protective Edge” over the summer razed some 20,000 homes, displaced around 500,000 people (of a population of 1.7 million), injured more than 11,000 people, and ended with a death toll of about 2,150 Palestinians – around 75% of those deaths being civilian casualties. The costs for reconstructing after the immense devastation wrought by Israel amounts to around $8 billion, which is larger than Gaza’s overall GDP.

All this leads one to wonder if the UN sees this insane mechanism as the only available alternative because they know the U.S. will continue blocking any and every resolution to hold Israel accountable for its war crimes and force it to lift the blockade. America’s role in not only maintaining the blockade but tightening it should be clear for all the world to see. When the Palestinian Authority began discussing the possibility of mounting a possible effort to charge Israel (or Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) with war crimes before the International Criminal Court, who could the Prime Minister rely on to fly over to Israel from the United States to pledge they would fight efforts for accountability at the ICC? It was members of the United States Congress of course. At the end of the day, whether it is openly stated or not, America is in a sense encouraging Israel to continue its siege, occupation, and overall process of ethnic cleansing of Palestine by constantly defending the indefensible. Thanks largely to the U.S., there is no international institution in which to hold the present Apartheid state accountable.

[*At the time of this writing, an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council has been called over the situation in Jerusalem and the West Bank, where Israel is continuing to demolish Palestinian households and mosques for the purpose of building more Jewish-only settlements in defiance of international law. Some analysts are wondering if a Third Intifada is inevitable. More on this to come.]