More than a third of Gazans (34%) and more than half of young Gazans are unemployed
Hundreds of factories stand idle because of the blockade, which has reduced exports to 3% of the pre-blockade levels.
85% of Gaza’s fishing grounds and 35% of its agricultural land cannot be accessed because of restrictions imposed by the Israeli army and navy
85% of Gazan schools are run on double shifts, one group of pupils in the morning and another in the afternoon
90% of Gaza’s water is contaminated and 90 million litres of untreated sewage is dumped in the sea every day
“We withdrew from Gaza but all we got were rockets”
Israel may have withdrawn its settlements and ground troops from Gaza in August 2005, but it kept control of land, sea and air borders and imposed tight restrictions on entry and exit, so Gaza is still occupied in international law.
Israel also kept control of exports, imports and even humanitarian supplies of food and medicines, which are held far below pre-blockade level.
Most rockets have been fired by small militant groups in retaliation for airstrikes and targeted assassinations and are not connected with the withdrawal.
Israeli settlements in Gaza were tiny – less than 2% of the total. The withdrawal of 7,826 settlers from Gaza in 2005 was immediately offset by moving 26,971 settlers into the West Bank in the same year, many transferring straight across from Gaza.
We should condemn not only rocket attacks but also Israeli airstrikes, and not only the deaths of Israeli civilians but also the deaths of Palestinian civilians, which far outnumber them.
In 28 months between Israel’s withdrawal fromGaza (August 2005) and the Israeli assault onGaza (December 2008), 8 people were killed by rocket attacks in southern Israel but the number of Palestinians who died in Israeli attacks onGazawas 1,315.
Collective punishment is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions. No person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed (Article 33 of the fourth Geneva Conventions IV (1949) and Article 75(2)(d) of the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions (1977).
Netanyahu boasted to the US Congress that the Palestinian economy is “booming”. Well, not thanks to him! It’s recovering from the impoverishment caused by the blockade in Gaza and by 540 Israeli roadblocks in the West Bank. Palestinian GDP per head is still not back to 1999 levels.
After falling by 34% between 2000 and 2008, the Palestinian GDP per head has grown for three years – in 2011 by 6.6%, but real wages still fell that year with 21% out of work and 25.6% officially poor. 
According to the FCO “the almost decade-long downturn has been largely a result of Israeli closure policies which have disrupted labour flows, manufacturing and trade”. A slight easing of movement restrictions helped the economy grow in early 2011, but then it slowed down again. 
In any case economic growth in the West Bank “has been sustained by inflows of donor aid”, according to the CIA’s economic report. “Israeli closure policies continue to disrupt labour and trade flows, industrial capacity and basic commerce.” 
540 checkpoints and roadblocks impose massive delays and diversions on the West Bank economy while Israeli permit laws make it impossible for most Palestinians to travel to Jerusalem, Israel or other countries. 
Israeli GDP per head is now 20 times higher than Palestinian and the Palestinian has been held back for a decade while Israeli GDP per head has increased by 22%.
 Report on UNCTAD assistance to the Palestinian people July 2010
“The Israeli government made huge efforts to end the hunger strike….’’
Although the Israelis made concessions to end the strike, there was:
No commitment to end the practice of detention without trial. The most recent Amnesty Report states that the Israeli government has renewed at least 30 administrative and issued at least 3 new ones.
No commitment to end the practice of torture
No commitment to allow visits by independent physicians or transfer gravely ill hunger strikers to civilian prison.
Despite the promise to restart family visits, none have been reported as yet
Israel agreed to end solitary confinement for 19 prisoners held in isolation for up to 10 years, lift a 5-year ban on family visits for prisoners from the Gaza Strip and discuss prisoners’ demands for improving prison conditions under an Egypt-brokered deal finalised on 14 May 2012.
Israel ended the strike because their security experts warned that the West Bank would erupt if a hunger striker died.
‘‘Administrative detention is allowable…..in a state of emergency….’’:A state of emergency is, by definition, a temporary legal response to an exceptional and grave threat to the nation. A perpetual state of emergency is a contradiction in terms.
The initial non-violent protest of hunger strikers Khader Adnan and Hana Shalabi, both held in prison without trial or charge, led to a mass hunger strike begun on 17 April, with close on 2,000 prisoners participating. Prisoner demands included an end to the practice of administrative detention, solitary confinement and the use of torture, and that family visits for Gazan prisoners, and independent medical care be allowed.
In recent years, detention conditions have become harsher according to Amnesty International, and undertakings given by the Israeli government at the time of the Gilad Shalit release, were reneged on.
Currently, 4,424 Palestinians are held by the Israeli authorities as “security prisoners” and thus held under harsher conditions than “criminal prisoners” – are detained or serving sentences in Israeli prisons. Over 320 of these “security prisoners” are held under administrative detention orders, with no charge or trial. 
Amnesty International has collected evidence over many years indicating that administrative detention is used regularly by the Israeli authorities as a form of political detention…. to punish those who have not committed any crime. 
They are held months or years in prison without knowing details of the allegations against them. Since administrative detention orders are renewable an unlimited number of times, no administrative detainee knows when they will be released.
220 Palestinian children are currently held in detention facilities in Israel in breach of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention
Israel has also jailed leaders of village committees that hold weekly non-violent protests against the wall taking their villages’ land – such as Abdullah Abu Rahma in Bil’in and Bassem al-Tamimi in Nabi Smuel, jailed for 15 and 13 months respectively for organising peaceful demonstrations.
Palestinian academic Ahmad Qatamesh has been in prison since 21 April 2011 apparently solely for the peaceful expression of his non-violent political beliefs. He denies being a member of any Palestinian political party and has never advocated violence
At least 24 Palestinian MPs are currently held in administrative detention, among them 63-year-old Dr Aziz Dweik, the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, for no known reason other than that they are Hamas MPs
The Israeli prison service imposes a much harsher regime on ‘security prisoners’, subjecting them to constant strip- and cell-searches, refusing access to all but Israeli TV, imposing frequent bans on mail and visits.
Courts impose much higher sentences on Palestinians from 99 years for life sentences to 10 months for stone-throwing
Palestinian children can be held for 90 days without access to parents or lawyers and confessions extorted by threats to demolish their parents houses if they don’t sign ‘confessions’ in Hebrew which they can’t understand, resulting in a conviction rate of 99.74%.
During the Israeli assault that started on 27 December 2008 and lasted 22 days, 13 Israelis were killed and 1,400 Palestinians.
The Israeli attack codenamed Operation Cast Lead actually followed a six-month calm in which there were no Israeli deaths. Even when Israel broke the calm, killing 17 Gazans in November, Hamas stood still and did not retaliate.
There was also a huge dis proportionality in arms. Israeli airstrikes are made by F-16s, Apache helicopters and drones while al-qassam rockets were, according to the UN’s Goldstone Report, “fashioned from rudimentary materials such as hollow metal pipes (…) relatively unsophisticated weapons and lacking a guidance system”.
An Egyptian-brokered six-month ceasefire between Israel and Hamas came into force on 19 June 2008, policed in Gaza by Hamas, and expired on 19 December. On 27 December Israel began the assault on Gaza which ended on 22 January 2009 with 1,400 Palestinians dead.
Operation Cast Lead is the Israeli term for the bombardment of Gaza during December 2008 and January 2009. The term gives the impression it was a legitimate military operation or a war. Under international law, as occupying power, Israel is obliged to protect the Gazan civilian population. The wholly disproportionate nature of the attack and the deliberate assault on civilians and civilian infrastructure were widely condemned. Armed conflict in Gaza was not between two states or even between a state and a non-state actor, but against a defenceless population.
“We never starve the Gazans. We always let humanitarian goods in.”
Israel is restricting food supplies into Gaza allowing an average 1,000 lorries a week to enter Gaza so far this year compared with 2,807 a week before the blockade.
This is part of an undeclared policy of ‘semi-starvation’ designed to punish the Gazans for voting for Hamas.
Gazans’ per capita gdp has fallen by 17 % since 2005 pushing the standard of living down with 38% defined as “poor”, 44% as “food insecure” and 80% receiving UN food aid.
Israel was forced in the High Court to admit authorship of a classified document on ‘‘Food Consumption in the Gaza Strip’’ for use by occupation authorities to measure Gazans’ ‘humanitarian minimum’ calorific requirements depending on age, height, weight and sex.
Dov Weissglass, Prime Minister Sharon’s bureau chief, told a private meeting, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”
“Why won’t Hamas accept the three Quartet principles?”
Israelis claim to want talks without preconditions, but what are the Quartet principles if not preconditions?
Hamas have offered a “long-term truce” and few doubt they will recognise Israel as part of an agreement, but why should they give up their bargaining chips before they start?
Hamas has been observing the existing ceasefire better than the Israelis
“Palestine must first recognise Israel …
The PLO – representing all Palestinians – has already recognised Israel since 1993. Israel has never reciprocated by recognising Palestine even though over 130 countries now do.
Israel has now moved the goalposts by demanding to be recognised “as a Jewish state” without explaining what that means. Arab Israelis fear it would mean their removal by force.
Hamas has always said it would recognise a state of Israel within legitimate 1967 borders as part of an agreement – but not without knowing the terms of that agreement.
Hamas started observing and policing its ceasefire with Israel from July 2008 and – outside the period of the Israeli assault of 2008-9 and other isolated flare-ups – has largely maintained it.
Hamas leader Khaled Meshal has offered Israel a “long-term truce” and promised that, once Palestine is independent, “we would practise democracy peacefully without violence”.
The second intifada ended seven years ago and the last suicide bombing was over five years ago.
All Palestinians maintain that the UN charter gives them a “right to resist” occupation even though they now support a policy of non-violence.
Israeli airstrikes and cross-border fire continue to kill many civilians in Gaza: in 2011 59 civilians were killed and 2,059 injured.
In the West Bank non-violent protests have been met with live ammunition, rubber bullets, high velocity tear gas canisters, tear gas and stun grenades. So far this year 67 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli forces on average every week. 131 Palestinians were injured in demonstrations in April 2012. 
…. adhere to previous agreements’’:
Israel should also have to abide by existing agreements. But they announced a new settlement of more than 5,000 homes at Givat Hamatos which reneges on principles agreed by most Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, including Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak, known as the ‘‘Clinton Parameters.’’ (Foundation for Middle East Peace) 
“We are ready to talk peace but the Palestinians are not sincere about wanting peace.”
The leaked Palestine papers clearly demonstrate that the Palestinian leadership is in desperate search of a settlement.
In the 20 years since the Madrid peace talks started, the Israelis have more than doubled the number of settlers in the West Bank from 230,000 to over half a million
When Netanyahu’s former vice-premier Moshe Ya’alon was asked why Israeli governments went in for “all these games of make-believe negotiations”, he replied: “You have to create the illusion that an agreement can be reached. Time works for those who make use of it…. and we in government know how to make use of time.”
Netanyahu’s ex-head of Shin Bet, Yuval Diskin, said: “We are not talking to the Palestinians because this (Israeli) government has no interest in negotiations…no interest in solving anything with the Palestinians. And I say this with certainty.”
In 1973 in a letter to a friend, which he thought would never be published, Ariel Sharon said his strategy was to make the West Bank like a pastrami sandwich: “We’ll insert a strip of Jewish settlements in between the Palestinians and then another strip right across the West Bank so that, in 25 years, neither the United Nations, nor the US, nobody, will be able to tear it apart.”
25 years later, in 1998, when his pastrami sandwich was already a reality,Sharon was secretly recorded telling a group of religious party youth activists: “Everybody has to grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours… Everything we don’t grab will go to them.”
The minutes of the Palestinian Negotiation Support Unit published by Al Jazeera, known as the Palestine Papers, gave an insight into the Palestinian negotiating position: they were ready to make huge concessions to arrive at a draft peace agreement and were widely condemned for being ready to give too much away.
The Israelis tell the outside world they are interested in peace, but they use peace talks as cover for extending settlements and absorbing more Palestinian land. They are gradually taking over all land designated under Oslo as Area C, which is 60% of the West Bank, which would leave only unconnected islands or “bantustans” under Palestinian control.
Israelis play a long game, always saying they want “a little more”. In the 1920s they wanted Jewish neighbourhoods, in the 1930s a Jewish-Arab commonwealth, in the 1940s a state, in the 1970s a few settlements in the West Bank, in the 80s a few more. Now they are gradually taking over Area C and if they succeed, Palestinians will be left not with 22% but 13% of historic Palestine
A former legal adviser to the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Mr Ziyad Clot, states that “There will be no Palestinian State” as it is practically impossible by now.
“The Israelis are ready to start talks without preconditions. The Palestinians are setting a precondition – a settlement freeze.”
It is not a precondition to abide by International Law – it is a legal requirement.
The Israelis are trying to build a pre-condition in bricks and mortar. They want the starting point for talks to be “facts on the ground” – the existing settlements, built illegally, and the 500,000 Israeli settlers on Palestinian land.
The starting point should be the legal status quo – that the whole of the West Bank and East Jerusalem within the 1967 borders is Palestinian land as unanimously agreed by the UN Security Council in Resolution 242.
It’s inherent in the idea of negotiations that neither side can change the parameters while negotiations are in progress. It’s not a precondition to say goalposts should not be moved in the middle of a football match.
Israel settles its own civilian population in what they call “settlements” in the occupied territories. The law that applies to military occupations, the Fourth Geneva Convention, states quite explicitly that “the Occupying Power shall not (…) transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”. 
Israel then presents these settlements as “facts on the ground” that become the starting point for negotiations, so they have the effect of extending Israeli territory.
The Palestine Liberation Organisation’s position has been since Camp David that certain settlements, albeit illegal, may remain in return for land swaps.
Palestinians have already made their historic compromise by dropping their claim to 78% of historic Palestine. They cannot be expected to compromise on compromise.
Only 15% of the wall is built along the 1967 border with Israel and 85% is built inside the West Bank with the same objective of extending Israeli territory by creating “facts on the ground”.
The International Court of Justice declared the wall illegal insofar as it is built in Palestinian (1967) territory in an advisory opinion entitled “Legal Consequences of the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories”.
 Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) says an occupying power is not permitted to deport or transfer part of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies. It is a breach of Article 85(4a) of Additional Protocol I (1977).