Blockaded in — and out of — Gaza

The investigation led by esteemed judge Richard Goldstone is leaving for Gaza this weekend to conduct its inquiry into possible Hamas and Israeli war crimes during the December-January war.  Israel, of course, has rejected participation, so the investigation may have to enter through Egypt. It occurs to me here that Israel’s stance on this matter parallels the Sri Lankan government’s rejection of a similar commission of inquiry into its alleged war crimes.  So while the Human Rights Council should be chided for not mustering cohesion on sending a mission to Sri Lanka, Israel should demonstrate more cooperation than officials in Colombo, whose stonewalling only impedes the causes of human rights and open inquiry.

Meanwhile, as the investigation team struggles to get into Gaza this weekend, the territory’s population remains trapped within this small sliver of land.  This New York Times article captures the privations faced by its residents in Gaza’s bizarre state or permanent suspension, and the top UN humanitarian official in the region has recently underscored how the Israeli blockade is making relief efforts more difficult.  In this post — overall an optimistic one, titled “Gaza is alive” — by TPM contributor Philip Weiss, the effects of the blockade are felt, even as Gazans create an entire culture and society within the walls.

It is not that the world’s blockade of Gaza is not evident. It is evident at almost every turn. Most buildings downtown are dark at night. Generators go in the street. Store shelves are thin, and the sense of high unemployment is everywhere at hand. The commerce feels like that of a dusty Caribbean island.

Shuttering an entire part of the world, where over one million human beings live, from both outside investigation and internal movement of goods and people, is simply not a sustainable course.  Denying the problem will only create more tunnels, and with enough tunnels, the foundation simply will not hold.

(image of a smuggling tunnel in Rafah, Gaza, from flickr user Marius Arnesen under a Creative Commons license)