Abunimah: European Inaction and Complicity
Fifty Dead In A Week.
Yousef Alhelo from Gaza:
An Israeli Apache helicopter swoops towards northern Gaza and drops missiles on Beit Hanoun, leaving a plume of dust and destruction in its wake.
At least 52 Gazans have been killed since the start of Israel's 'Operation Autumn Clouds' in the Gaza Strip. Scores of Palestinians have been injured in this continued offensive, most of them civilians, including approximately 43 women, 30 children, paramedics, and journalists.
On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert refused to say when Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip will end, telling his cabinet the operation will continue until Palestinian rocket attacks significantly decrease.
Samar Assad:The Demographic and Economic War On Palestinians:
Emigration from the Occupied Territory
According to the Palestinian foreign ministry, between June and October 2006, foreign consulates operating in the Palestinian territory received 10,000 immigration applications raising the total of immigration applications before the various consulates to 45,000. During a 1 November 2006 press conference Subuh attributed the high volume of applications to Israel's policies of incursions, settlement expansion and the construction of a separation wall, the isolation of Jerusalem and other economic centers in the West Bank, the international economic embargo and internal Palestinian strife. According to Subuh, the majority of those seeking to leave are professionals who are employed by the PA.
In addition to "locals" wanting to emigrate, Subuh pointed out that Israel's policy of denying Palestinians with foreign passports-mainly Palestinian Americans-from returning has hurt the private sector at the business and education levels. The policy has also hurt humanitarian relief efforts in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. According to Subuh, personnel of various U.N. agencies are no longer allowed to extend their permits in order to continue their work. Although the ministry does not have past emigration numbers for comparison, Subuh expressed grave concern over the current emigration trends.
In addition to Israel's policy of denial of entry/reentry, decades of restrictions, rejection and freeze on family reunification applications, home demolitions and land confiscation for settlement expansion and the construction of the separation wall, one major factor pushing Palestinians to leave is the economic embargo.
The Economic Factor
According to a 1 November 2006 International Monetary Fund (IMF) report, there has been a 60 percent drop in Palestinian income since Hamas took power in March 2006. The IMF report found that from April to September 2006, the PA coffers took in $500 million compared to $1.5 billion during the same period in 2005. The IMF stated that a main factor for the decrease was Israel's failure to transfer $360 million in tax revenues it owed the PA.
Interestingly, despite the economic embargo imposed on the PA since Hamas came to power, the government received $420 million in foreign aid between April and September 2006, which, according to the IMF surpassed the amount received during 2005. The majority of the funds, $300 million, came from Arab countries but bypassed the Hamas government. According to the IMF, of the $300 million, $246 went directly to the president's office.
According to the IMF report, 80 percent of the $500 million was used to cover the salaries of government employees and pay utility bills leaving a small sum for other budgetary needs. Despite the difficulty in securing salaries, the IMF reported that the PA added approximately 5,400 employees to its payroll in 2006, the majority being employed in the security sector. An additional 20,000 security officers are in training and may be added to the payroll in the future. Currently, the government payroll stands at $100 million per month compared to $80 million in mid 2005.