The Situation in Gaza

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
July 26, 2014

Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Cairo, Egypt, July 21-22, 2014 to meet with Egyptian and other senior officials on the situation in Gaza. The United States -- and our international partners -- are deeply concerned about the risk of further escalation and the loss of more innocent life. We believe there should be a cease-fire as soon as possible -- one that restores the cease-fire reached in November of 2012.  

On July 21, Secretary Kerry announced that the United States is providing $47 million to help address the humanitarian situation in Gaza. These funds will provide critical humanitarian aid, including shelter, food, and medical supplies to Palestinians in Gaza.  This assistance includes:

  • An initial $15 million contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in response to UNRWA’s $60 million Gaza Flash Appeal;
  • $3.5 million in emergency relief assistance from USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA);
  • $10 million in existing USAID bilateral funding, redirected to meet immediate humanitarian needs; and
  • $18.5 million in new USAID bilateral funding for humanitarian and emergency relief assistance.

The United States remains committed to addressing the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people, and will continue to monitor the humanitarian situation closely.

Secretary Kerry then traveled to Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Tel Aviv on July 23, before returning to Cairo on July 24 to continue meetings on the situation. On July 25, Secretary Kerry traveled to Paris, France, where he met with his counterparts from France, Germany, Italy, Qatar, Turkey, and the United Kingdom to discuss Gaza.  In Paris, Secretary Kerry said:

"...I want anybody who cares about the Palestinian side of these issues to listen, and I want everybody in Israel to understand: we clearly understand -- I understand that Palestinians need to live with dignity...with goods that can come in and out, and they need a life that is free from the current restraints that they feel on a daily basis, and obviously free from violence. But at the same time, Israelis need to live free from rockets and from tunnels that threaten them, and every conversation we’ve had embraces a discussion about these competing interests that are real for both. And so we need to have a solution that works at this.

"I understand that Israel can’t have a cease-fire in which they are not able to -- that somehow the tunnels are never going to be dealt with. The tunnels have to be dealt with. We understand that; we’re working at that. By the same token, the Palestinians can’t have a cease-fire in which they think the status quo is going to stay and they’re not going to have the ability to be able to begin to live and breathe more freely and move within the crossings and begin to have goods and services that come in from outside. These are important considerations. Each side has powerful feelings about the history and why they are where they are. And what we’re going to work at is how do we break through that so that the needs are met and we have an ability to provide security for Israel and a future -- economic and social and otherwise development for the Palestinians. That’s what this is about."
 
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Comments

Mary S.
|
Illinois, USA
July 28, 2014
Since Israel is our own ally in the Mideast, we need to fully support them. It is apparent that Hamas continues to use their tunnels to attack Israel. I just heard on the news that they had just waged such an attack. How can you ask for a cease fire when they are defending their country? If we were being attacked like this from Mexico, we would keep fighting until the tunnels were completely destroyed and they should do the same. I believe that we need to be unconditionally supportive. Even though they are killing civilians, they are being used as shields and it is in Israel's best interest to attack them. I am shocked that support for Israel looks like it is waning today. We need to take a stand even though this administration has not been doing this. I thought that our policy was NOT to negotiate with terrorists, which is what you are trying to do now. We cannot be friends with them, we cannot negotiate with them and we cannot reason with people who are radicals. This is what you are trying to do and it will not work. Please stand by Israel as they are our friends and need our support at this time. If you do not do this now, we will fail as a people and as a democracy. No longer will any of our allies depend upon us or help us at our time of need. It will be a very sad day if you do not support them. Remember that those who do not heed history are doomed to repeat it. Please do not let Israel down at this time of their greatest need.
james z.
|
Illinois, USA
July 28, 2014
your handling and positioning, and the islamic/arabic loving jerk, our current sitting president, on isreal's response to the attacks from Hamas and palestinians in gaza is disgraceful. the isrealis and the jewish state are our allies not our enemies you idiot. do the right thing Kerry, resign. and tell your arab / islam loving pal, the prez and his anti-american wife, to do the right thing for america, toss in the towel and take early retirement in Qatar, where i'm sure they'll be most welcome
Alex k.
|
Maryland, USA
July 29, 2014
Extremely disappointed in secretary Kerry's position!!! This war is existential for the State of Israel. Politics of up-easing muslim society never works. I suggest secretary Kerry watch the response given on the subject by Joan Rivers. That is who needs to be in charge of our foreign policy!!!
Marlys P.
|
United States
July 29, 2014
How is it that you can afford $5 billion to overthrow the government in Ukraine, but only half a billion (assuming it is actually delivered) for Gaza? Gaza has become possibly the largest concentration camp in modern history.
Linda B.
|
Colorado, USA
July 29, 2014
Mr. Kerry, you do know you represent the USA right? Hamas is not our friend and we should never ever bow to this type of organization. Israel, like them or not, is our "friend" if we ever really have any in the middle East, but your job is to defend USA and its allies and Israel is our ally, you actually ran for president, you scare me. USA is not a coward and should not bow to any terrorist group EVER, have some USA pride, courage, character and integrity. Treat Americans appropriately please. Killing children is horrific, but the ones that are getting their children killed are the ones refusing to do this or that, so their value is not really with the children, it is just a media BS rally. If my children were being killed, I would then have to put down my guns and deal with it. They know that their children are going to be killed, but still they continue.
Eric J.
|
New Mexico, USA
July 29, 2014

I don't really know what more the US could do than folks have already done to try and broker peace among the parties to this ongoing dysfunctional conflict over many administrations. The latest efforts being among the most intense and sustained over the couse of years...to no avail.

It has been said that "diplomacy never fails to fail until it succeeds" but the reality is the parties to this conflict don't seem to want to give it a chance to provide their peoples any security. Hamas is hell bent on creating martyrs of its people and Israel seems all too willing to give Hamas what it wants at the moment.

There's got to be a better way. I've heard all the arguments made on both sides, all the vitrol expressed at Sec. Kerry's tireless efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement that holds for more than 12 hours. all the while the American taxpayer inevitably foots the bill for humanitarian efforts in Gaza, supports Israel with 3 bil. in aid annually, and at least the Iron Dome works to protect lives..one small success technologicly,....but none of this really matters in the long term if peace cannot be created and sustainable.

In the short term, folks are dying in droves with no end in sight...and if there's anything to blame for it it's as a result of ongoing political stupidity and a complete lack of "give a damn" for life, limb, and property by those engaged in conflict. And that can be shared among them as the cup runneth over in blood, misery, and their ongoing attacment to a "victim" mindset, sustained by each other at the expense of the other while fear drives their political will and policy.

So what are "next steps" for the US as an honest broker of peace? We can continue to call for a sustainable ceasefire and hope folks get a grip and consider the fate of each other's children and their future. But "hope" is a four letter word and I'd rather not see folks damned if they do and damned if they don't in the press while trying to create the peace.

I think the key to saving lives in Gaza is to separate the civilian population from Hamas, and the only way I can think to do that is to completely evacuate all the civillians from Gaza.

I know this would be a massive humanitarian undertaking requiring the full cooperation of both Israel and Egypt, the setting up of tent cities, etc for millions currently trapped by the conflict with nowhere to go currently.

This idea isn't meant to be a semi-permanent thing as we see today with Syrian refugees, but far better to bring the people to the aid and get civilians out of harm's way rather than our aid go into Gaza to help those held hostage to the political will of Hamas in the midst of a war zone. That's not sustainable, nor as effective in the short or long term.

I ask myself what would convince Hamas to cease and desist firing rockets into Israel and I think only the loss of their human shields might cause them to sue for peace, since they can no longer be made martyrs to their cause.

For Israel, facing condemnation for its assault on Gaza, despite warnings to the population etc. , I think if its leadership considers this idea from a strategic as well as political viewpoint, the creation of a humanitarian corridor and the willingness to iself aid and evacuate the non combattants from Gaza to safety would give Israel exavctly what it needs to deal with Hamas and end Hams' rein of terror on a permanent basis, and that's why Hamas would be sueing for peace and/ or forced to surrender unconditionally.

For the US, as well as the rest of the international community seeking a creative solution to this conflict at present...we have the leverage and the means to save lives, if our combined political will is joined in solidarity with the innocent with deeds and taxpayer dollars applied effecively.

I leave it to the good folks @ State and USAID to determine if this makes too much sense to ignore and put flesh on the bones of the idea put forth here. I hope it makes a difference.

EJ 7/29/14

Eric J.
|
New Mexico, USA
August 1, 2014

Daily Press Briefing - July 31, 2014‏
(excerpt)

QUESTION: I asked – let me – one more. I asked this the other day, but is there any thought, given the fact that these – it is so densely populated, that these people have nowhere to go, that even the places that they are going in shelters are being targeted, is there any consideration of any type of safe haven places where you can send these refugees?

MS. HARF: Outside of Gaza?

QUESTION: Either outside of Gaza or inside of Gaza or just some kind of safe haven --

MS. HARF: Well --

QUESTION: -- where there is a recognition that this will not be a target and this is a safe place, whether it’s inside of Gaza, whether it’s in a neighboring place – I don’t know.

MS. HARF: Well, the UN has tried that inside of Gaza. So they’re trying and they’re working at this, but unfortunately, we’ve seen folks that are – have gone to these facilities, unfortunately, come under fire as well.

In terms of other countries in the region, look, they’ve – there’s a long history with other countries in the region bearing a burden of Palestinian refugees, and not just Palestinians now. Syrians, Iraqis – we’ve seen this throughout – the countries in the region are already dealing with a number of refugees. So I haven’t heard discussion about that. But look, we believe there should be safe places for civilians in Gaza, period.

QUESTION: And would you say – are you prepared to call on the Israelis not to attack any of those safe – not to target, not to shell these safe places at all?

MS. HARF: Well, I would like to see --

QUESTION: Yes?

MS. HARF: -- how we define “safe places.”

---end excerpt---

I'd have to take it on faith that If Ms. Harf has not "heard discussion" about creating safe haven outside Gaza for civillians, then she hasn't had the chance to read my prior public comments regarding just that.
I know that Dipnote may not be an "official" way to communicate with the US dept of State, but for this citizen it is the most expiditious way to attempt to do so, and submit a constructive idea...and it has worked in the past to get folks @ state thinking.

So if I might ask a small favor of the moderator who reviews these comments for publication;

Will you please forward the link and my comments to Ms. Harf directly? As it is virtually impossible for me to contact her directly via beaurocratic mechanisms of communication.

This blog is what you'all might consider "digital outreach" that goes both ways...and we'll see whether or not it's effective.

Certainly trying to get a ceasefire in place that'll be respected hasn't been...and time's a wasting while folks are dying on the cusp of humanitarian disaster in a place being made virtually uninhabitable.

Thanks,

EJ 8/1/14

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