It will come as decidedly unwelcome, and no doubt unheeded, news to this rowdy mob in London at the end of last month, protesting Shimon Peres's visit, when he spoke at Chatham House (the Royal Institute of International Affairs).
Like all good Israel-demonisers, they have their "End the Siege on Gaza" placards and their "Palestine Shall be Free From the River to the Sea" chants, and they throw in "We Charge You With Genocide" for added drama:
However, the International Red Cross has now confirmed what those who haven't swallowed anti-Israel propaganda hook, line and sinker already know: that talk of hardship in Gaza is much exaggerated. There is to all intents and purposes no longer a siege. It's certainly not that "open prison" that David Cameron eagerly claimed it was when he was striving to impress his Turkish hosts last year.
The Red Cross has never, so far as I'm aware, been particularly friendly towards Israel. All the more reason, then, to heed its current announcement that the "humanitarian crisis" which is so often talked of in the media and by the chattering classes, and taken for granted in the public mind as a result, does not, in fact exist.
For on Wednesday the Red Cross, via its deputy director in Gaza, Mathilde Redmatn, said in an interview that acknowledged what anyone not taken in by anti-Israel propaganda has known for some time: that there
"is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. If you go to the supermarket, there are products. There are restaurants and a nice beach."She acknowledged that Israel has eased the siege on Gaza and partly lifted export bans, and identified the main drawback for Gazans as Israel's remaining partial embargo on such items as cement.
"Israel has the legitimate right to protect the civilian population, [but] this right should be balanced with the right of 1.5 million people living in the Gaza Strip...difficulties in importing building materials [has] hampered sustainable economic recovery and dashed any hope of leading a normal and dignified life."
Mathilde Redmatn also said:
"Rocket fire from the Gaza Strip is against international law because it is directed at civilians. We conduct confidential or bilateral dialogue with Hamas on the matter. As time passes, the dialogue also develops."
"When a person's freedom is taken away, he deserves at least contact with his family. We will continue to ask but we do not have the capability to force anything on Hamas. Hamas' refusal is based on security reasons. Hamas is afraid of the IDF's advanced technological capabilities and believes that allowing contact will lead to the location of Gilad."Remarks Ryan Jones in the Israel Today magazine (22 April) regarding all this:
'But, despite the reality, painting Gaza as a squalor-filled prison is just too good a propaganda tool for most to give up.
A few brave journalists over the past few years have bucked the media trend of portraying Gaza as the most destitute place on earth, and have provided written and photographic evidence that Gaza is not nearly as bad off as most reports make it out to be.
Last year, National Post reporter Tom Gross lambasted his colleagues in the international media for focusing solely on those parts of Gaza that are impoverished in a deliberate attempt to suggest that the entire region lives that way, because of Israeli security measures.
"We could produce the same effect by selectively filming seedy parts of Paris and Rome and New York and Los Angeles, too," Gross wrote at the time.
Even Hamas has admitted that there is no Israeli-created starvation in Gaza.
"There is no starvation in Gaza. No one has died of hunger," Khalil Hamada, a senior official at Gaza's Ministry of Justice, told London's Daily Telegraph last year.
The claim, reiterated by Redmatn, that Israel is not allowing enough building materials into Gaza is also dubious.
In November, Gaza Housing Minister Yousef Alamanti confirmed to United Press International that construction had been started on a massive high-rise apartment project. The project includes three apartment buildings with a total of 25,000 apartments, a mosque, playground, shopping center and schools.
It is difficult to understand how such an expansive project could be built if Israel is not letting Gazans get their hands on even basic building materials.
The truth revealed by all of these acknowledgements and reports is that Gaza is not under siege. Yes, Israel is closely monitoring and restricting the entry of certain goods in order to limit the terrorists' capabilities. But the influx of goods into a territory that is actively engaged in terrorist warfare against the civilians of its neighboring territory is unprecedented in Gaza.' http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/22757/Default.aspxAnd for essential reading on the IDF's ethics see: http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Article.aspx?id=217479