Creating people's geographies
NZ Herald | Saturday September 9, 2006
MIDDLE EAST – A 10-week Israeli siege of Gaza has created suffering and mass despair rather than a desire for political compromise, the head of the United Nations aid agency for Palestinian refugees said.
International monitors might help to ease the suffering by opening up border crossings now shut down more than 50 per cent of the time, said Karen AbuZayd, commissioner-general of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.
“The strangulation of commerce and trade has ruined the economy, it has brought the institutions of government to a point of near-meltdown, and badly shaken the society,” she said.
Israel has been pressing an offensive in the Gaza Strip since the June 25 abduction of a soldier, Gilad Shalit, by a group of militants, including members of governing Hamas.
The United States brokered a deal last November that opened the way for European Union monitors to oversee the Rafah terminal in southern Gaza on the border with Egypt. The monitors are no longer there because the crossing has been closed since the siege began.
Meanwhile, Israel began lifting a two-month old air and naval blockade of Lebanon, against the wishes of the Israeli Army. It was imposed the day after Hizbollah Islamic fighters abducted two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid into Israel in July.
The Israeli Army objected to ending it because it saw the measure as a means of obtaining the release of its soldiers.
– REUTERS, INDEPENDENT