Gaza tests our humanity

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The Palestinian people in Gaza live under some of the most inhumane conditions of any people on earth.
On a daily basis Palestinians in Gaza—women, children, students, fishermen, policemen who are trying
to protect civilians—are subjected to assaults on their dignity and their lives. These assaults are not new
or unusual, but have been part of daily life for more than 70 years.
Often we justify this by claiming that the government in Gaza is hostile to use so we must be hostile to
the people of Gaza. The truth is that the peace and justice party, which is linked to Hamas the controlling
force in Gaza, won an election that was widely acknowledged to be free and fair. Moreover, Hamas has
never threat the United States and has sought cooperation with the United States on a basis of mutual
respect. It is true that Hamas opposes Israel, but that is because Israel was built on the Palestinians land
that was taken without the consent of the Palestinians people.
It happened despite the fact that the League of Nations had decided that the people of Palestine were to
given the right to decide their own future. Instead of facilitating this, as it was mandated to do, the
British occupiers allowed Palestine to be overrun by outside intruders. How would any of us react if our
house was overrun by armed intruders and we were forced into the street? This is exactly what
happened throughout Palestine in 1948. Still today, however, the people of Gaza, in the face of more
continued adversity, continue to resiliently demand their self-determination, a fundamental human right
recognized under international law.
The infrastructure of Gaza has been virtually destroyed by the aerial bombardment of the Israeli army
that has escalated in to all-out war against people who are trapped in barely over 140 square miles of
land that is completely surrounded by Israel. Even access to the sea is controlled by Israel, which this
recently detained four more fishermen who were trying to make a living fishing in Gaza’s territorial sea.
The history of Gaza is not one that reflects the situation over the past 70 years. Before Israel’s
occupation, which continues to this day, Gaza was a striving fishing port. It had seaside hotels, ports, and
even an airport. The people of Gaza lived side-by-side in peace with Jews, Roman Catholics, Orthodox
Christians, Coptic Christians and others. It was only in the early 20th Century when Israel began to
consolidate its occupation of Palestine and to take the land of Palestinians often driving them from their
homes, that Gaza began its path towards disaster.
Today, according to UNRWA, the United Nations’ agency for Palestinians refugees, more than 80% of
Gazans are dependent on humanitarian assistance. Fishermen and civilians are arrested and detained
arbitrarily at the will of the Israeli occupiers. Israel makes sporadic military incursions several times a
year under cover of aerial bombardments. And Israel regular bombs the people of Gaza carrying out both
targeted killings of Gazans and indiscriminate bombings of Gazan villages and towns and Gaza City. This
vicious circle of violence has been ongoing for more than 70 years, even before the United Nations was
created. It is the longest-standing situation of massive and widespread human rights abuses on United
Nations agenda, yet it is too often ignored.
Gazans live in a state of terror that has been created by Israel, but forgotten by the rest of the world.
Israel’s acts of State terrorism against the people of Gaza are almost never mentioned in international
forums discussing combating terrorism, especially by Western States including the United States. So
often when we speak of defending our values and protecting human lives we forget the lives of almost
two million Gazans that are under threat daily from a government of which the United States is the
biggest supporter.
The conditions of life under which the people of Gaza live tests our humanity. If we are honest about
upholding values of dignity of life and respect for human life, then we must show greater concern for the
people of Gaza. Instead, we criminalized those in the United States who seek to provide humanitarian
assistance to Gaza. The provision of humanitarian assistance can never be viewed as a hostile action, yet
that is what we have done. Ignoring, the fact that more than thirty years ago the principle judicial body
of the United Nations, the International Court of Justice based in The Hague in The Netherlands, with a
senior U.S. judge sitting on the Court, decided that the provision of humanitarian assistance to a people
is never an illegal act. We should not need a Court to tell us this, our sense of morality should tell us this.
Our sense of morality should tell us that we cannot sit silently as generations of Gazans are subjected to
inhumane conditions of life. The conditions of life under which the people of Gaza live tests our
humanity. Our sense of morality—based on values of concern for human life—should tell us that this is
wrong. The United States and each American should support an end to the destruction of Gaza and an
end to the support for those any country or person that advocates such hatred and inhumanity.

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