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The war on Gaza's children Israel's sanctions are leaving a generation of Palestinian children poorly educated and hungry. By Saree Makdisi September 22, order prednisone 2007 An entire generation of Palestinians in Gaza is growing up stunted: physically and nutritionally stunted because they are not getting enough to eat; emotionally stunted because of the pressures of living in a virtual prison and facing the constant threat of destruction and displacement; intellectually and academically stunted because they cannot concentrate -- or, order prednisone even if they can, order prednisone because they are trying to study and learn in circumstances that no child should have to endure. Even before Israel this week declared Gaza "hostile territory" -- apparently in preparation for cutting off the last remaining supplies of fuel and electricity to 1.5 million men, order prednisone women and children -- the situation was dire. As a result of Israel's blockade on most imports and exports and other policies designed to punish the populace, order prednisone about 70% of Gaza's workforce is now unemployed or without pay, order prednisone according to the United Nations, order prednisone and about 80% of its residents live in grinding poverty. Order prednisone About 1.2 million of them are now dependent for their day-to-day survival on food handouts from U.N. Order prednisone or international agencies, order prednisone without which, order prednisone as the World Food Program's Kirstie Campbell put it, order prednisone "they are liable to starve." An increasing number of Palestinian families in Gaza are unable to offer their children more than one meager meal a day, order prednisone often little more than rice and boiled lentils. Order prednisone Fresh fruit and vegetables are beyond the reach of many families. Order prednisone Meat and chicken are impossibly expensive. Order prednisone Gaza faces the rich waters of the Mediterranean, order prednisone but fish is unavailable in its markets because the Israeli navy has curtailed the movements of Gaza's fishermen. Los Angeles parents who have spent the last few weeks running from one back-to-school sale to another could do worse than to spare a few minutes to think about their counterparts in the Gaza Strip. Order prednisone As a result of the siege, order prednisone Gaza is not only short of raw textiles and other key goods but also paper, order prednisone ink and vital school supplies. Order prednisone One-third of Gaza's children started the school year missing necessary textbooks. Order prednisone John Ging, order prednisone the Gaza director of the U.N. Order prednisone Relief and Works Agency, order prednisone whose schools take care of 200, order prednisone000 children in Gaza, order prednisone has warned that children come to school "hungry and unable to concentrate." Israel says that its policies in Gaza are designed to put pressure on the Palestinian population to in turn put pressure on those who fire crude home-made rockets from Gaza into the Israeli town of Sderot. Order prednisone Those rocket attacks are wrong. Order prednisone But it is also wrong to punish an entire population for the actions of a few -- actions that the schoolchildren of Gaza and their beleagueredparents are in any case powerless to stop. It is a violation of international law to collectively punish more than a million people for something they did not do. Order prednisone According to the Geneva Convention, order prednisone to which it is a signatory, order prednisone Israel actually has the obligation to ensure the well-being of the people on whom it has chosen to impose a military occupation for more than four decades. Instead, order prednisone it has shrugged off the law. Order prednisone It has ignored the repeated demands of the U.N. Order prednisone Security Council. Order prednisone It has dismissed the International Court of Justice in the Hague. Order prednisone What John Dugard, order prednisone the U.N.'s special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied territories, order prednisone refers to as the "carefully managed" strangulation of Gaza -- in full view of an uncaring world -- is explicitly part of its strategy. Order prednisone "The idea, order prednisone" said Dov Weisglass, order prednisone an Israeli government advisor, order prednisone "is to put the Palestinians on a diet, order prednisone but not make them die of hunger." Saree Makdisi is a professor of English literature at UCLA and the author of "Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation, order prednisone" forthcoming from Norton. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-makdisi22sep22, order prednisone0, order prednisone1839917.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions