Tuesday, February 23, 2021

How Israel “drowns” hope for a peaceful resolution of the conflict with Palestine


Tel Aviv staged a “planned flood” in the Gaza Strip, the IDF attacked fishermen, and impoverished Arabs knock on the doors of the United Nations Middle East Agency – the situation on the Israel-Palestine demarcation line is heating up again. The international editorial office of the Federal News Agency was investigating the topic of a new exacerbation.

On February 18 and 19, there were reports that Israel twice opened dams on its territory and flooded agricultural land in the Gaza Strip. According to the Palestinian news agency WAFA, Tel Aviv dumped accumulated rainwater from nearby reservoirs. As a result of these actions, local landowners suffered significant damage.

According to the latest data, more than 70 hectares of agricultural land were flooded to the east of the Zeytun and Al-Shujaya districts in the Gaza Strip.

According to the Middle East Monitor, the Gaza Ministry of Agriculture has estimated the damage to local farms at about $ 1.5 million.

Is Israel starting a tradition?

Similar actions were last recorded in January 2020. Then, within one week, Israel opened the flood gates of the dams in the Al-Shujaya area three times, which led to the flooding of the eastern part of Gaza.

During this period, Tel Aviv experienced a series of torrential rains, accompanied by thunderstorms and strong winds. The ensuing disaster flooded several streets of the city, during the floods, two residents of the coastal areas were killed. The measures taken by the leadership of the Jewish state aimed at eliminating the natural disaster caused tangible damage to the Palestinian enclave.

Flooding of agricultural areas in the Gaza Strip

“The strong current of water flooded hundreds of dunams (1 dunam – 1,000 square meters) of agricultural land, and farmers suffered huge losses,” officials from the Gaza Ministry of Agriculture said at the time.

Then the Palestinian Authority estimated the damage from the uncontrolled opening of the dam at about 500 thousand dollars. The statement notes that the flooding damaged agricultural areas, poultry and bees on local bee-keeping farms died, and the potato and onion crop was completely destroyed.

Israel’s position

Even during the flood of 2020, the authors of the major Jewish weekly in the United States, The Jewish Press, blamed the incident on the Palestinians themselves.

“Undoubtedly, it is easier to blame Israel than to take responsibility for the fact that it itself did not take proper measures to protect the drainage fields, given the low altitude of Gaza and its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea,” the publication says.

Also, journalists expressed doubts that the authorities would use precious supplies of rainwater only to harm their neighbors.

Now that history has repeated itself, the position of the Israelis remains unchanged. Social media users noted that despite last year’s experience, the Palestinians have not bothered to further protect their agricultural properties.

At the same time, they accuse members of the Hamas movement, who often attempt to attack Israeli territories, of wasting the funds needed to improve the infrastructure of their region.

The Israeli authorities have not yet reacted in any way to the flooding of the Palestinian areas.

Amid the flood

The destruction of crops in the Gaza Strip once again raises the question of the prospect of peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Earlier, during the presidency of Donald Trump, the American administration first limited and then completely stopped funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Middle East (UNRWA). At the same time, the head of the White House argued his decision with personal discontent because of the refusal of the UNRWA administration to carry out internal reforms, as well as the unwillingness of Palestine to conduct peace negotiations with Israel.

Following the United States, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have significantly reduced their contributions to the organization, which in 2020 signed an agreement with Israel to normalize relations.

Why Bahrain and the UAE have forgotten about the interests of Palestine

Recent events once again prove that the opponents of negotiations with Tel Aviv have reasons for antipathy.

The humanitarian crisis is forcing the people of Gaza and the West Bank to benefit from the support of charitable organizations like UNRWA, but without adequate funding it is limited.

For example, on February 21, Palestinians staged a protest in the Gaza Strip against the organization’s decision to cut food aid to people with limited incomes.

The action was initiated by members of the Department for Refugees of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

In addition, on that day, another incident involving Palestinian fishermen and the Israeli military took place at sea in the north of the Gaza Strip.

News breaking news agency reports that an IDF naval patrol opened fire on a boat carrying Palestinian fishermen, forcing them to stop fishing.

The Israeli side, in turn, notes that the inhabitants of Gaza, conducting “suspicious maritime activities”, posed a threat to ships passing through this water area. Tel Aviv’s vigilance can be explained by its intentions to exclude the possibility of arms smuggling for members of the Hamas movement who control the Gaza Strip.

How to create an alternative

The current situation in the region and actions such as opening dams or banning fishing effectively deprive the local Arab population of the opportunity to lead a peaceful life and provide themselves with food. Together with the aggravation of the humanitarian situation, this further increases the tension in relations and postpones the possibility of a peaceful resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Meanwhile, it is also not worthwhile to unambiguously blame Israel for the problems of the Palestinians: both sides allow themselves provocative actions. A number of restrictions or strikes from Israel, in particular, are often a reaction to frequent shelling by aggressive forces in Palestinian territory.

Competent distribution of resources for peaceful activities and humanitarian projects, instead of constant confrontation with the Jewish state, in some cases could contribute to the development of the region and the stabilization of the humanitarian situation. In this case, the basis for a diplomatic solution to the conflict can be precisely the improvement of living conditions in the areas under blockade. And appropriate efforts should be made by both sides of the interaction.





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