In war, and in war-like situations, a fog of madness descends. And sometimes that madness is not the spontaneous outbreak of catastrophic violence, but mimicry: it pretends to be its opposite.
Unhurried bureaucrats practise their rational, orderly professions; paper flows in their offices, not blood. Administrative processes and office protocols are scrupulously observed. The means justifies the end.
Thanks to an Israeli human rights group, details are now emerging about Israel's illegal blockade* of Gaza. Arcane decisions, subject to change without notice, govern the daily lives of Gazans.
Children's toys are not allowed in. Nor is wood to make furniture. Canned meat and tuna are, but not canned fruit; mineral water gets through, but not fruit juice; cinnamon is permitted, coriander is not.
Here is the full list of what is allowed to enter Gaza, at least as of this writing. Israeli authorities have also taken it upon themselves to calculate, to the last calorie, the minimal intake of nourishment required by the inhabitants of Gaza to survive.
This precise yet lunatic attention to detail has resonances that I dare not mention.
Before our eyes (unless we choose to look away), 1.5 million "drugged cockroaches in a bottle" are struggling to live their daily lives, or perhaps just to stay sane, caught between the twin and co-dependent madnesses of Hamas fundamentalism and Israeli state policy.
[H/t ftbt, b/c]
* "Israeli acts that deprive Palestinians in the Gaza Strip of their means of subsistence, employment, housing and water, that deny their freedom of movement and their right to leave and enter their own country, that limit their rights to access a court of law and an effective remedy, could lead a competent court to find that the crime of persecution, a crime against humanity, has been committed."
From Part II, Article 4, Additional Protocol II of the Fourth Geneva Convention:
1. All persons who do not take a direct part or who have ceased to take part in hostilities, whether or not their liberty has been restricted, are entitled to respect for their person, honour and convictions and religious practices. They shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction. It is prohibited to order that there shall be no survivors.
2. Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, the following acts against the persons referred to in paragraph I are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever:
(b) collective punishments;