yesterday i attended a kia ora gaza meeting in hamilton. there weren't a large group of people there, but we had two of the activists who were on the international convoy that broke the gaza seige last year come down from auckland. they took us through their experience via photographs, and it was quite moving.
the stories are particularly sad, as were the pictures of the devastation that is gaza. after the complete destruction of infrastructure a couple of years ago, as a result of israeli bombing a couple of years ago, the place still looks like a war zone. cement is not allowed into gaza, so the rebuilding is near to impossible. neither are any machine parts, so that machines which break down remain broken. the sole power station has not been repaired, and people can only get power from generators. fuel is extremely scarce & is generally brought in through tunnels, so it's difficult to even power those generators.
the infrastructure relating to water treatment & sewerage was destroyed and many of the drains remain blocked. sewerage is therefore going into the beaches without being treated and the beaches are not safe for swimming. what was a reasonable tourist industry centred on the beaches has been destroyed, along with many of the hotels. there is a 3km fishing limit for gaza citizens, and because of the water pollution, this means that there aren't so many fish to be had. the fish they have are pretty small in size.
the complicity of the egyptian regime in this siege is appalling, especially given the fact that the vast majority of egyptian citizens don't support. things have not improved with the fall of mr mubark, as the army continues to be extremely harsh in maintaing barriers. when trucks full of cement tried to cross the border after the fall of the regime, they were unable to get through.
the mosques were directly targetted and destroyed. living conditions in this, the most overcrowded piece of land in the world, are just heartbreaking. and yet these people continue on with an extraodinary resilience.
the convoy last year was restricted pretty much to medical supplies & equipment, as well as ambulances. things like clothing and blankets weren't allowed to go through.
what was really heartening was the positive response the convoy got as it travelled through europe. what would really be heartening though, is more international pressure from governments across the world, to achieve a resolution to this conflict. i was thinking back recently to the 3 areas of conflict that i used to feel so strongly about when i was a teenager: the situation in northern ireland, the apartheid regime of south africa, and the occupation of palestine. that 2 of these conflicts have been resolved shows that this third one can be as well. if there is enough popular pressure to force governments to act.