By Senussi Bsaikri
The suffering of Gaza's population did not stop with the end of the war waged by Israel on the civilian population of the territory earlier this year, and it does not seem that it will end soon. Recent scientific analyses have shown that the war was a direct cause of the increasing numbers of birth defects, miscarriages and cancer, the latter particularly among children and the elderly, in the Gaza Strip. The effects of Israel's aggression are going to be with the people of Gaza for many years to come.
A report by Conscience Organisation for Human Rights concerning the environmental and health dangers resulting from the bombardment and invasion revealed that incidents of children born with deformities have risen markedly in the Gaza Strip. The report said that in the three months prior to the start of the war in December 2008 just twenty-seven children were born with such deformities. During the same period in 2009 the number was forty-nine, a significant increase. The report indicated that 50% of the confirmed cases relate to the nervous system and joining of organs. It also pointed out that the rate of deformities was particularly high in Jabaliya, Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya districts, which witnessed the most intense Israeli bombing during the war. The report attributes this increased number of deformities to the use of weapons containing toxic and radioactive elements.
The experts' analyses of the environmental samples taken from Gaza indentified toxic and radioactive materials which are prohibited from use in civilian areas. Although the conclusions of the research have not yet been published in detail, the initial results have been conveyed to a number of local bodies and foreign observers.
The effects of toxic and radioactive materials are unknown and unpredictable. However, as confirmed by competent institutions, the situation is becoming worse day after day, not only as a consequence of the Israeli aggression but also of the ongoing closure of the border crossings by the Israeli authorities for the third consecutive year.
In the long term, it is already clear that the environmental and health consequences of Israel's use of toxic substances will be catastrophic for the people of Gaza. The health and well-being of one-and-a-half million Palestinians is endangered. This is in addition to the polluted water, soil and air, all of which have suffered serious contamination over the past few decades. We have to wonder to what level this contamination will reach given the fact that the toxins used will remain in the soil and air indefinitely.
Naturally, two additional questions arise: why have the Western governments which arm and protect Israel chosen to remain silent while this disaster unfolds? What will it take for them to put an end to these crimes against innocent civilians?
The British government has now shown a willingness to change its legislation to protect suspected Israeli war criminals. In doing so it shows no consideration for the consequences of the crimes of which Israeli politicians are accused, and their effects on the lives of millions of Palestinians. The failure to prosecute the Israeli leaders, deemed culpable for the rise in birth defects in Gaza because of the munitions sanctioned for use by the Israeli armed forces, basically gives Israel the green light to repeat its aggression whenever it pleases.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.