The Society for Islamic Awareness hosted Canadian rights activist and journalist Eva Bartlett to speak of her experience living in and reporting from the Gaza Strip since November 2008, and to explain the type of human rights violations committed by the Israeli Defense Forces that she witnessed during her stay.
Bartlett went to the Gaza Strip with the International Solidarity Movement, a grassroots organization that works to aid the Palestinian population. Bartlett said she directly worked with citizens and witnessed firsthand the nature of the situation, saying the United Nations and other organizations argue that, because Israel controls the Gaza Strip, it has an obligation to support the well being of
“Instead of looking after the well being of Palestinians in Gaza, [Israel’s] policies are designed to find and attack every aspect of life in Gaza and make it literally unbearable,” Bartlett said.
According to Bartlett, Israeli forces fire live ammunition at fishermen and farmers near Israeli borders, regardless of the fact that they operate within the legal boundaries. During her presentation, Bartlett showed a number of videos of these events, all of which she was present for.
The Gaza Strip spans 140 square miles, with a population of 1.7 million. In 2013, its unemployment rate was 31 percent. Bartlett said Israeli forces impose tight restrictions on the region’s imports and exports, severely affecting the health of Palestinians. According to Bartlett, 80 percent of the population relies on food aid — a 70 percent increase from 2001.
“Until mid 2010, Israeli authorities were banning everything from entering Gaza, except for 40 items,” Bartlett said. “This is how sadistic their policies are.”
Bartlett said she believes Western media does not show the hardships experienced by Palestinians.
“A scene you will never see in our corporate media is a Palestinian suffering,” Bartlett said.
Tracy Frydberg, Middle Eastern studies and journalism junior and president of Texans for Israel, referred to the conflict as a complex and emotional issue, saying the Israeli policies were put in place to protect the people of Israel.
“The Israeli Defense Force is an incredibly moral army, based on defending the state of Israel and its people,” Frydberg said.
Christina Noriega, journalism junior and member of Palestine Solidarity Committee, said the conflict has been inaccurately portrayed to the public by the media.
“This is not a war of equal sides but, rather, a blatant Israeli occupation involving the systematic displacement of the indigenous Palestinian community,” Noriega said.