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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The War on Gaza's Children - Saree Madkisi

While talking of ramadaan's manifestations...fasting, zik'r, prayers, piety, charity and city traffic, political deal-makings, supreme court deliberations...and the goodies that we invariably over eat come iftar... we (blasphemously) avoid any meaningful discussion of the plight of other muslims -t

An entire generation of Palestinians in Gaza is growing up stunted: physically and nutritionally stunted because they are not getting enough to eat; emotionally stunted because of the pressures of living in a virtual prison and facing the constant threat of destruction and displacement; intellectually and academically stunted because they cannot concentrate -- or, even if they can, because they are trying to study and learn in circumstances that no child should have to endure.

Even before Israel this week declared Gaza "hostile territory" -- apparently in preparation for cutting off the last remaining supplies of fuel and electricity to 1.5 million men, women and children -- the situation was dire.

As a result of Israel's blockade on most imports and exports and other policies designed to punish the populace, about 70% of Gaza's workforce is now unemployed or without pay, according to the United Nations, and about 80% of its residents live in grinding poverty. About 1.2 million of them are now dependent for their day-to-day survival on food handouts from U.N. or international agencies, without which, as the World Food Program's Kirstie Campbell put it, "they are liable to starve."

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