THE LEVANT EXCLUSIVE – By Catherine Shakdam – In what has been called an unprecedented criticism of Israel by Medecins Sans Frontieres, the French-based humanitarian agency, Jonathan Whittall, head of humanitarian analysis at MSF likened Gaza to an “open-air prison” where staff has been called on “to patch up prisoners in between their torture sessions.”
And indeed, pinned against the sea, the people of Gaza have nowhere to go. Attacked from the air, the sea and now on the ground, Israel has this slither of land at its mercy.
Whittall’ s outrage toward Israel has been echoed across many continents as harrowing images of slaughter continue to invade the media, forcing many to rethink the so-called legitimacy of this conflict.
Jonathan Whittall who worked in Libya in 2011 and therefore has an understanding of the ravage of war told his colleagues, “At what point does MSF’s repeated medical action in an unacceptable situation [like Gaza] become complicity with aggression and oppression?”
As more Palestinians are being slaughtered by the IDF the realities of a life under Israeli occupation is hitting the west, putting the story of Palestine and its people’s long suffering under a new light.
“An entire population is trapped in what is essentially an open-air prison,” Whittall writes. “They can’t leave and only the most limited supplies – essential for basic survival – are allowed to enter. The population of the prison have elected representatives and organised social services.
“Some of the prisoners have organised into armed groups and resist their indefinite detention by firing rockets over the prison wall. However, the prison guards are the ones who have the capacity to launch large-scale and highly destructive attacks on the open-air prison.”
In a comparison which is also certain to infuriate Israel, Whittall, who is based in Beirut, says that the limitations of humanitarian groups in Gaza are not unique.
“In 2012,” he writes, “MSF closed its projects in the prisons of Misrata, Libya. Our doctors were outraged to be in a position where we were providing treatment to patients who were being tortured by state authorities. At the time, MSF spoke out strongly: ‘Our role is to provide medical care to war casualties and sick detainees, not repeatedly to treat the same patients between torture sessions’.”
As Israel’s true colours have finally become too blatant to ignore, how long will it take the world to rise against the real evil of the story? How long will the holocaust guilt hold before the slaughtering of an entire people based on their ethnicity?
Have we learnt nothing from our history?