A video clip blasts the Gaza blockade

The animated film director behind the award-winning "Waltz with Bashir" released a short animated movie to denounce the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

"Closed Zone", directed by Yoni Goodman, was ordered by Gisha, a human rights NGO, before operation Cast Lead, the Israeli military operation in Gaza in January, was launched.

The blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip when Islamist militant group Hamas took power has been strengthened since the end of Israel’s offensive. Circulation of merchandise is down to a small trickle, and circulation of people is blocked entirely.

Posted on Youtube by gishaorg

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"The government openly describes the blockade as a punitive measure"

Lisa Goldman is a journalist and blogger from Tel Aviv.

The video clip hasn’t sparked a huge debate in Israel, except on the Net, even if its director was of course widely criticized. He’s accused of being anti-Israeli and of over-simplifying the situation in Gaza while omitting Hamas’s responsibility in the blockade.

At least the video addresses the disastrous humanitarian situation in Gaza, something that seems set to last. The Egyptian-brokered talks aren’t going anywhere because of Hamas’s unacceptable demands for the release of criminals in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit. Therefore, for the past 18 months, Israel has imposed an almost-complete blockade on Gaza. Only a lucky few can obtain permission to travel through the Erez Crossing — usually for their studies or for medical care. It’s a punitive measure and openly described as such by the government.

Gaza is not the poorest nor the most crowded place on earth. Anyone who has visited the slums of Cairo, Mumbai or Delhi can tell you that. But it is certainly unique in the sense that it is a big, open air prison. Since the end of Operation Cast Lead, the blockade has been complete: the Israeli Ministry of Defence, which controls Erez, has decided that no one can leave via the crossing, except for urgent humanitarian reasons. Merchandise continues to trickle through via the Rafah tunnels, but it’s too expensive for poor Gazans, who rely solely on humanitarian aid.

For some reason, the blockade is not really discussed in Israel. As one journalist told me recently, Israel seems to have written Gaza off. The people have been dehumanized into a bunch of Hamas voters — i.e., terrorists or de facto terror supporters — rather than ordinary people who aspire to live, raise their children and have hope for the future, just like us. On the rare occasions when Palestinian suffering is discussed, someone immediately counters by decrying the suffering of the children of Sderot, or by placing the blame on Hamas."

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