By Jimmy Carter
First Published 5/6/2008
The world is witnessing a terrible human rights crime in Gaza, where a million and a half human beings are being imprisoned with almost no access to the outside world by sea, air, or land. An entire population is being brutally punished.
This gross mistreatment of the Palestinians in Gaza was escalated dramatically by Israel, with United States backing, after political candidates representing Hamas won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Authority parliament in 2006. The election was unanimously judged to be honest and fair by all international observers.
Israel and the US refused to accept the right of Palestinians to form a unity government with Hamas and Fatah and now, after internal strife, Hamas alone controls Gaza. Forty-one of the 43 victorious Hamas candidates who lived in the West Bank are now imprisoned by Israel, plus an additional ten who assumed positions in the short-lived coalition cabinet.
Regardless of one’s choice in the partisan struggle between Fatah and Hamas within occupied Palestine, we must remember that economic sanctions and restrictions in delivering water, food, electricity, and fuel are causing extreme hardship among the innocent people in Gaza, about one million of whom are refugees.
Israeli bombs and missiles periodically strike the encapsulated area, causing high casualties among both militants and innocent women and children. Prior to the highly publicized killing of a woman and her four little children last week, this pattern was illustrated by a previous report from B’Tselem, the leading Israeli human rights organization: 106 Palestinians were killed between February 27 and March 3. Fifty-four of them were civilians who didn’t take part in the fighting, and 25 were under 18 years of age.