WikiLeaks and Gaza

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Late last year a Norwegian paper apparently got hold of the trove of U.S. diplomatic cables leaked to WikiLeaks and now is focusing attention on Israeli-Palestinian affairs. The Norwegian paper Aftenposten published two U.S. diplomatic cables Wednesday one of which alleged Israeli border forces were bribing American companies supplying goods to the beleaguered enclave, the other concluding that Israel’s blockade is intended to push the area’s economy “to the brink of collapse.”

Gaza’s misery is well-documented, as is the continuing militant hostility to Israel of the Hamas leadership there.

Israel has avoided saying it is trying to punish the civilian population of Gaza with indiscriminate economic punishment, not least because it would be a violation of international law to do so, according to Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch. Israel says the embargo of the enclave is designed to prevent Hamas from getting items that might be militarily useful.

Bribery by Israeli officials of those delivering goods that are allowed into the enclave would be a new low. According to the cable, a local Coca-Cola distributor was shaken down for $3,000 and other companies complained of similar treatment, including Procter & Gamble, Caterpillar, Philip Morris, Westinghouse, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, Aramex and Dell.