Gaza – At the practical level the forced withdrawal of the Israeli Occupation Forces and the Israeli settlers from Gaza is an important victory for the Palestinian resistance. But despite this, or perhaps because of it, the Israelis are waging a relentless war against the Palestinian men, women and children living in this small area. This war targets the basic economic activities and material survival of Palestinian masses, affecting the working class and the poor most intensely.
A few examples:
Fishing, a key element of the Palestinian economy in Gaza, has been devastated. Israeli war ships prevent fisher-folk from reaching their traditional fishing grounds and limits them to a thin strip over sandy beach adjacent the coast where the fish are few and small. Palestinian fishermen who try to get to their deep water fishing grounds are fired upon by the Israelis and face being injured or killed or being imprisoned and having their fishing boats confiscated (stolen). Thus 70,000 people, some from families who have fished these waters for centuries, are denied access to their basic livelihood by the siege.
Farmers near the unilaterally declared 3 km buffer zone that runs along the ‘border’ with the Palestinian lands occupied in 1948 face a similar attack on their livelihood. This farmland is important not only to the farmers who work it but for the food security and sovereignty of all Palestinians living in Gaza. All along this strip the Israelis destroyed the Palestinian farms including orchards of citrus and olive trees. When farmers try to go to their farms they are fired upon and many have been killed. We met with farmers who persistently return to their lands, risking their lives to plant crops that face a high chance of being destroyed by the Israelis before they can be harvested.
Many Palestinians living in Gaza used to work in factories and businesses in the Palestinian lands occupied in 1948. These Palestinians are now denied the right to cross the ‘border,’ as Israel has pursued a strategy of substituting super-exploited Palestinian labour with super-exploited migrant labour from Asia and North Africa in its dirtiest, worst paid and most dangerous areas of work. Meanwhile the siege allows the free entry of Israeli products and ‘international brands’ like Pepsi and Coke but prevents import of materials needed to repair factories and production destroyed by the Israeli occupiers and severely restricts exports, limiting the potential for indigenous economic development. As a consequence Palestinian workers in Gaza face chronically high rates of unemployment (as high as 40%) and poverty (mostly living on about $2 per day).
So, even when the bombs are not actively dropping, the war on the Palestinian masses living in Gaza continues. Organizations like the Union of Agricultural Committees and the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions and the Union of Women’s Committees who challenge these brutal violations of Palestinian economic rights are part of the broad resistance to Israeli war and occupation including military, political and cultural resistance.
Aiyanas, from Gaza, June 21, 2012