Israel puts Gazans on a real diet’

PressTV – Sat Jun 18, 2011 5:56PM
Interview with Ken O’Keefe, Irish American activist.
Although the interim Egyptian government has recently said that the Rafah Crossing has been permanently reopened, there are still restricting access for the Gazans to food, fuel, construction materials and medical supplies.

video here

Ken O’Keefe, an Irish American activist, was a passenger on the Mavi Marmara which came under attack en route to delivering humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.

He has returned from Gaza after spending more than six months there where he witnessed firsthand conditions under which they have been forced to live in an economy crippled by the siege.

In an interview with Press TV, he tries to tell us how the people of Gaze struggle to live under harsh conditions the Israelis have imposed on them.

Press TV: In your own words, what did you see in Gaza that gives the case for reconstruction?

Ken O’Keefe: Well, the Palestinian people are amazingly educated, hardworking, dignified people and the problem is that they do not have the ability to access the resources in the rest of the world to import and export. So they have been relegated to state of charitable dependency.

This is a very undignified way to live and it is all part of a larger plan as the Israelis very famously said they would put the Palestinians in Gaza on a diet and they have and what has happened is you have doctors and lawyers that are actually picking up trash because it is the only job they can get and this is very much harming the fabric of the society and it really is not an accident. It is intentional.

We have institutionalized aid as a means of providing the kinds of things that are necessary to live and it is causing deep problems and it needs to end. There is no question about this. There is hardship on levels that most can hardly imagine coming from western environments.

Press TV: You were there when the Rafah Crossing was reopened. How much did that aid the situation?

Ken O’Keefe: It is really more of a public relations stand to this point and this is a sad truth with [Nabil] al-Arabi, the foreign minister appointed in the aftermath of the fall of Mubarak, there was great promise there but sadly al-Arabi has not been giving, I think, a rather pointless position with the Arab League and the words, I do not see it substance behind them as of yet and I believe really the key here is in the people, the power of the people.

The Egyptians have proven that they can shed their dictator but they have not yet won that revolution. They still have a government that is being bribed to the tune of one billion plus dollars a year from the Americans and let’s make no mistake about it to bribe money to maintain the blockade and to maintain Zionist controlled policies in the region. So only the people are going to change that.

Press TV: What are those long established aid routes that were talked about at the UN Security Council and how effective are they for the Gazans?

Ken O’Keefe: With all due respect to the good people within the UN, the UN is the hardest problem. The UN partition plan basically stole over half of the land of Palestine and gave it to people who did not even come from that land. So from the very beginning, the UN has not been helpful to the Palestinian cause. The idea that they are an accepted channel and that this is somehow sufficient to satisfy the needs of the Palestinian people ….

The fact is that Israel continues to maintain the control over air, land, sea and space and the Palestinian people in Gaza have in fact been put on a diet. Beyond aid, what is needed is to open borders with Egypt. Egypt is not Israel and the Egyptian people have been shamed by Mubarak for over thirty years. It is time now to take pride on Egypt again, open up Rafah and allow import and export trade. Forget the aid, let us make aid unnecessary. It is not right, it must end.

Press TV: What do people need? It seems almost stifling on a scale where you cannot imagine just what will it take to reinvigorate the economy to provide work, to provide employment and to get money flowing again. On a personal level, what you saw told us what was needed.

Ken O’Keefe: Well, there is no question that building material is needed to be allowed, not just for the big NGOs, not just the UN but for all people who want to rebuild their homes that is absolutely necessary. Factories have been destroyed and that has been very directly targeted. It is not an accident. The economy has been destroyed.

Unless building materials are allowed, those buildings cannot be rebuilt. Raw materials such as the textiles, the Egyptians cotton would be very useful to start developing the economy and developing the industries that can produce goods in Palestine that can be exported out.

I want to bring in looms for the Samouni family to be able to produce Palestinian scarves kuffiyehs. Can you imagine, if there were Palestinians scarves made in Gaza by the Samouni family, would there be a market for that? Of course there would but they cannot get in the raw materials, they do not have the machinery and they cannot export. That needs to end. That is just one example.

Solar panels so they can start developing their own energy needs without the use of the big power plant which is constantly hit by the Israelis. There are many things that could be brought in. Forget about aids so much as we need to bring in materials and the things that can get the Palestinians back on their own two feet so that they can live a dignified life and they are more than capable of doing that.

Press TV: What is the next plan for the flotilla? Tell us very quickly, what plans do you have and when does it take off?

Ken O’Keefe: Well, the flotilla is coming in the next few weeks. Although I won’t be on the flotilla myself, I supported wholeheartedly. I have a convoy that is leaving in the next two weeks so I will be on that coming through Rafah.

The power of the people is paramount. We can achieve whatever we set our minds to. Forget the UN, forget the Quartet, and forget the EU. It is the people and the people are coming on that flotilla and they will not be stopped and if Israel wants to kill 9 people and 90 people and 100 people, it does not matter.

We are going to keep coming and we will never abandon the Palestinian people. The tide has turned, the Zionist project will end and the people will be respected and our rights will actually manifest. And it is because we realized that now and thank God for that, better late than never. We will have justice.

Press TV: Thank you Ken and you will of course be here to give us more information as soon as that comes out.



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