Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, January 2012
Welcome to Gaza!
The World's Largest Open Air Israeli Prison of 1.7 Million People
By Mahmoud El-Yousseph
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, January 9, 2012
A baby fighting for his life…
Parents are panic stricken…
Doctors desperate for help…
Permission to get medical help denied…
Welcome to Gaza!
The world’s largest open air prison in the world, with a population of 1.7 million Palestinians, 50% of whom are children under the age of 18 years old. 80% of the population living on less than $2 per day with unemployment at 45%. Desperately needed medical supplies not being allowed in. Thanks to Tel Aviv and Cairo, Gazans are denied to get in or out of the strip, not even the mail.
The illegal Israeli siege on Gaza continues to take innocent lives daily. Adham Baroud was the latest casualty. A seven month old baby who died on December 26th in a slow and painful death from renal failure when he could be easily treated.
On December 1st Adham was referred to Israel for emergency treatment by his doctors in Gaza after his condition became terminal fallowing a catheter inserted four months earlier in a previous operation in Israel gets infected. Adham never made it.
Julia Hurley, a New York City area human rights advocate, lecturer, and blogger has posted Adham’s tragic story on her blog [http://juliachurley.blogspot.com] with this comment–
“This story in particular broke my heart because it was completely avoidable. This is dangerous. This is inhumane. There is NO excuse for denying medical treatment to ANYONE. This, right here, is collective punishment. It cannot, and should not, be tolerated.”
Adding salt to the injury, Israel has, according to a December 28, 2011 issue of the British Guardian, ‘upped’ the ante for those wishing to exercise their right to freedom of movement by requiring them to become informants–
“Palestinian patients and business people hoping to leave the Gaza Strip are being asked to collaborate with Israel in exchange for an exit permit, a leading Israeli human rights organization claims. Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) say that 172 people, mostly men aged 18 to 40, were called for interrogation by the Shabak, Israel’s internal intelligence agency, last month. Some who attended interviews were granted exit permits.”
The Guardian story revealed more stunning information about Israel’s typically- ruthless and inhumane method of taking advantage of Palestinians who are seeking medical treatment in Israel. Case in point is the story of Ahmed Hamada, a 20 years old who has suffered serious head injuries, including memory loss. His father Emad, arranged for him to receive treatment in Israel. He had worked there as a laborer for years and was stunned when a week before the appointment, his son was summoned for an interview with the Shabak on 19 September. He was led to an interrogation room deep beneath the Erez crossing terminal north of Gaza where an Israeli officer introduced himself in Arabic. Littering his conversation with Gaza slang, he asked briefly about his medical condition.
“I know everything,” he warned him. “You didn’t fall off a wall did you? Why are all those tubes inside you? Tell me the truth. Is your father Hamas? Who is Hamas in the port? Who in your neighborhood?”
“He became very angry when I kept answering that I didn’t know,” Hamada recalled. “I explained I couldn’t remember much since my fall. I was in pain and I just wanted to go home.”
After an hour of questioning, Ahmed was left alone in a locked interview room. The entire process had lasted four hours and he needed the toilet. As his knocks and calls went unanswered, he was forced to pee on the carpet.
Ahmad was eventually sent home and told he would be called for a second interview. He has not heard from them again but says he will refuse to go if they call. He now has a referral for treatment in Egypt but hasn’t gone due to the turmoil there.
The simple truth is, Israel wanting to continue punishing the people of Gaza for voting for Hamas in democratic elections that took place years ago is inhumane and barbaric. The siege on Gaza is one of the greatest moral travesties of our time and we all have a role we can play in bringing the siege to an end. We have to wake up and educate ourselves and others about this crisis.
If we leave it to lame $tream media and to politicians who take their marching orders from Tel Aviv, this bully of the Middle East will continue oppressing the innocent people of Palestine and defy the rules of civilized nations and those of human decency. In other words, we will continue to read and hear more about needless death and tragic stories similar to those of Adham Baroud and Ahmed Hamada of Gaza, Palestine.
Mahmoud El-Yousseph is a Retired USAF Veteran.
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