Several years ago, when Ariel Sharon was prime minister, his main advisor, Dov Weisglass “jokingly” said that Israel’s siege was intended to put Gazans on a diet:
“It’s like a meeting with a dietitian. We need to make the Palestinians lose weight, but not to starve to death.”
Yes, it was macabre, but typical of the callousness and gallows humor Israeli leaders like to employ when dealing with Palestinians. Little did we know that the IDF actually does maintain a formerly secret document about how many calories it takes to maintain Gazans on the near edge of malnutrition:
The Israeli authorities also confirm the existence of four documents related to how the blockade works: how they process requests for imports into Gaza, how they monitor the shortages within Gaza, their approved list of what is allowed in, and a document entitled “Food Consumption in the Gaza Strip – Red Lines” which sets out the minimum calorie intake needed by Gaza’s million and a half inhabitants, according to their age and sex.
And in case you were wondering, the Gaza siege and such a dietary plan are play a major role in maintaining the security of the State of Israel:
“The limitation on the transfer of goods is a central pillar in the means at the disposal of the State of Israel in the armed conflict between it and Hamas.”
Wouldn’t you say that a siege that has been in place for four years now hasn’t quite done the job it was supposed to as Hamas is still in power. Not to mention that there is currently a ceasefire in place and no “armed conflict” between Israel and Hamas as the statement maintains. Isn’t it about time to try something new? Like not maintaining people on the edge of malnutrition over long periods of time? I know Martin Kramer would disagree since he believes that such borderline starvation inhibits Arab women from having babies who all grow up to be terrorists. But everyone else recognizes the failure of this strategy.
In a court case brought by the Israeli NGO Gisha, which demanded that the government reveal the criteria behind its siege policy including what products were forbidden and why, the government came up with this ingenious justification for opacity:
In each case, the state argues that disclosure of what is allowed in and why would, in their words, “damage national security and harm foreign relations”.
Apparently, it would harm national security, for example, for the world to know that cinnamon is permitted by coriander not. It’s obvious why this information would harm foreign relations: because it would reveal to the rest of the world the utter idiocy and sheer caprice of Israeli decision-making.
In case you’re considering sending care packages, these are the items which so endanger the security of the State that they may, on no account, be imported into Gaza:
Among the large range of goods currently forbidden are jam, chocolate, wood for furniture, fruit juice, textiles, and plastic toys.
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- Details of Gaza blockade revealed (news.bbc.co.uk)