On October 16, welcoming a group that calls itself “the Elders, Ging said:
I am delighted that the Elders come again to Gaza to witness…simple and obvious truths that go untold. The truth that…that we are in the fourth year of an illegal, inhumane and counterproductive blockade on 1.5 million innocent civilians.
What is more, Ging never mentioned the Israeli Security Cabinet decision of June 20, 2010, which advanced new, more expansive regulations with regard to what would be permitted into Gaza.
While Ging uses the term “blockade” broadly, in actuality the only blockade is at sea: As hundreds of trucks carrying humanitarian and commercial goods are allowed into Gaza weekly via crossings from Israel, there is no land “blockade.”
On November 11, Ging told BBC that Israel ignores demands from the international community to lift the “blockade”:
There’s been no material change for the people on the ground here in terms of their status, the aid dependency, the absence of any recovery or reconstruction, no economy…The easing, as it was described, has been nothing more than a political easing of the pressure on Israel and Egypt. (Emphasis added)
And, as we shall see, by late December, Ging had contradicted his own statement.
In a November 30 UN press briefing, Ging persisted in his demand for normalization of the Gaza economy:
While acknowledging that sufficient goods were coming in to stock the shelves of stores, he lamented the continued dependence of much of the population on welfare assistance and spoke of the need for “economic activity.”
Missing from his statement was any recognition that Israel does not wish to foster economic normalization in Gaza because that would be to strengthen Hamas.
In fact, he referred neither to “Hamas” nor to “terrorist” groups more broadly when reporting the “good news” that “rocket fire has not been directed against the crossings” in the last six months. Rocket fired is “directed,” but he fails to mention who directs it.
Ging’s description of the plight of the Gaza population as still “desperate” in spite of available consumer goods was repeated in a host of reports over a period of days.
On December 8, Ging gave an interview to Ma’an News; which included this:
The first issue for Palestinians is the issue of justice…the restoration of Palestinians’ fundamental human rights, all of them.
Our position has been crystal clear. The blockade is illegal. It’s a contravention of international law. And on top of that it’s inhumane and counterproductive.
On December 27, Ging gave a talk at the Limmud Conference in Great Britain, which was captured on video. At about nine minutes into that video, he speaks about how matters are not dire – for example, there are hungry children, but “they’re not emaciated.” But, he warned, we should not wait until they are emaciated. The situation is deteriorating. While markers – e.g., for infant mortality – are those of the first world, there is now regression, what he called “de-development.”
This was a markedly strange comment, lacking in consistency or logic, because less than two minutes further into his talk, he says:
[W]e’ve now turned the corner…since the new Israeli government decision on adjusting the blockade [of June 20], every day is better than yesterday. (Emphasis added)
In spite of this, he lamented, there is frustration because the situation is “not as better as it could be.”
A slower rate of improvement than might be desired (realistically or not) is most decidedly not “regression” or “de-development.” If every day has been better than the previous one since the Israelis loosened the parameters for what is permitted into Gaza, then Ging was looking at six months of incremental improvement.
John Ging ended his year as auspiciously as he had begun it.
This material was extracted from a major report on key UNRWA personnel, written by the author and commissioned by the Center for Near East Policy Research, for submission to the US House Foreign Affairs Committee.
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