On March 16 2003, an American activist called Rachel Corrie was killed by an IDF tank, manufactured in the United States.
Because she was young, white, female, active online, and American, she became possibly the single most famous fatality of the conflict: one of the ships in the Gaza freedom flotilla to relieve the Gaza blockade was called MV Rachel Corrie, and no one had to explain why.
Water: Israel has not permitted supplies into the Gaza Strip to rebuild the sewage system. Amnesty International reports that 90-95 percent of the drinking water in Gaza is contaminated and unfit for consumption. The United Nations even found that bottled water in Gaza contained contaminants, likely due to the plastic bottles recycled in dysfunctional factories. The lack of sufficient power for desalination and sewage facilities results in significant amounts of sewage seeping into Gaza’s costal aquifer–the main source of water for the people of Gaza.
Food: A 2010 World Health Organization report stated that “chronic malnutrition in the Gaza Strip has risen over the past few years and has now reached 10.2%. Micronutrient deficiencies among children and women have reached levels that are of concern.” According to UN OCHA: “Over 60 percent of households are now food insecure, threatening the health and wellbeing of children, women and men. In this context, agriculture offers some practical solutions to a humanitarian problem. However, Israel’s import and access restrictions continue to suffocate the agriculture sector and directly contribute to rising food insecurity. Of particular concern, farmers and fishers’ lives are regularly put at risk, due to Israel’s enforcement of its access restrictions. The fact that this coastal population now imports fish from Israel and through tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border speaks to the absurdity of the situation.” 72 percent of Gaza’s fish profit comes from beyond the three nautical mile mark, but further restrictions by Israel’s naval blockade prevents Gazans from fishing beyond that mark. Between 2008 and 2009 the fishing catch was down 47 percent.
The Death of Rachel Corrie, in Mother Jones, is where I got the quote that forms the title of this blogpost.
A regular right-wing commenter on Obsidian Wings cited a post by Tom Gross, The Forgotten Rachels, listing “forgotten victims” – young people killed in Israel by Palestinian terrorists, as an example of anti-Israel bias in the media, citing Helen Thomas‘s outburst as an example of anti-Semitic feeling among US journalists.
As I noted on Feministe:
Helen Thomas should have known that while many of the white colonists who first began the 63-year-war against the Palestinian people were indeed from Eastern Europe and from North America, that was 63 years ago: it’s their descendants, and the descendants of the Middle Eastern refugees who came to the new state at the beginning of the war, who continue it now.
“Go back to where you came from” applies to Helen Thomas, the descendant of white immigrants, as much as it does to the dscendents of the white immigrants in what is now Israel.
Still, it’s worth noting that many American journalists have openly supported the murderous campaigns by the Israelis against the Palestinians, and supported the denial of citizenship to Palestinians and the maintenance of the apartheid state of Israel, without needing to announce that they are retiring immediately.
Tom Gross lists Rachel Thaler, killed age 16 by a Palestinian suicide bomber on February 27th, 2002. But he doesn’t mention Inas Ibrahim Saleh, age 7, who was struck by IDF shelling of Jabalya Refugee Camp, North Gaza district, on February 13th 2002, and who died on March 2nd 2002. He doesn’t mention Mahmoud Hassan Ahmad a-Talalkah, also age 7, who was killed on March 1st 2002 next to Nissanit, North Gaza district, by gunfire. He does not mention Maryam ‘Awad al-Bahabsah, age 30, who was killed by IDF gunfire, from a tank, in her home in Khan Yunis, on February 18th, 2002: nor does he mention Muna al-Bahabsah, Maryam’s 10-year-old daughter, also killed by the same IDF gunfire that killed her mother.