Guardian publishes letter by David Martin, MEP, advancing fiction that Israel limits medicine to Gaza

The Guardian published two letters today; The EU, Israel and occupied territories, July 25th, which responded to a July 23rd report by Phoebe Greenwood on the EU’s upgrade of diplomatic and trade relations with Israel.  

The new areas of co-operation include a European trade advantage known as  ACAA. 

ACAA refers to the ‘Agreement on Conformity, Assessment and Acceptance’ of industrial products, which promotes the “elimination of technical barriers to trade”, thereby “increasing the accessibility of outside markets [such as Israel] to products from the EU and vice versa”.

As I noted in a post on Greenwood’s report, enhanced bilateral relations between the EU and Israel will necessarily come as sad news for BDS advocates and other anti-Zionists.

Sure enough, both letters published by the Guardian were extremely critical of the EU upgrade: one written by William Bell, Policy and advocacy officer at Christian Aid and the other by David Martin MEP Labour, Scotland.

Here is an excerpt from Martin’s letter:

“While many parliamentary groupings considered this a “technical upgrade”, it is not; it is a clear upgrade of trade relations with Israel and incompatible with international law and recent European parliament declarations denouncing the abuse of human rights in the occupied territories. It would be especially galling to allow easier access to the EU market for Israeli pharmaceutical products when Palestinians struggle for medical supplies under the Israeli-imposed blockade.”

However, the suggestion – similarly echoed in a July 11th Guardian video report entitled “Gaza’s healthcare system in crisis which was replete with scenes of sick Palestinian children and doctors complaining about shortages of medical supplies – that Israel’s legal blockade is preventing medical supplies into Gaza is a complete fiction.

Israel facilitates the transfer of tons of medical supplies to Gaza each week via international aid organizations and – though nothing requires Israel to admit Palestinians into its territory to receive medical care –  nonetheless consistently provides Palestinians in Gaza with access to Israeli hospitals.

According to COGAT (the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) citing a report by the WHO (World Health Organization), in 2011, 91.5% of all applications by Gazans to receive medical care in Israel were approved.

According to the latest figures from COGAT , during 2011 over 18,000 Gazans crossed into Israel for medical reasons. 

The claim that there is a shortage of supplies due to Israeli restrictions is an unsupportable allegation, as Israeli imposes absolutely no restrictions on the transfer of medical supplies to the strip.  Indeed, according to Major Moshe Levy (former Head of the PR Branch of the Coordination and Liaison Administration of the Gaza Strip) “The transfer of drugs has priority over all other commodities. 100% of the Palestinian demands are met by the Israeli Ministry of Health.”

Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yigal Palmor noted that “There are no restrictions on medical equipment or medical supplies, nor have there ever been restrictions.”

According to Israeli policy since June 2010, the only goods that are restricted from entering Gaza are arms, weapons, war material, and specific items which have military as well as civilian applications. 

During any given week, up to a dozen truckloads of medicine and medical equipment are transferred into Gaza.

Such unimpeded humanitarian assistance is especially remarkable in that such transfers are not halted by the IDF even when Palestinian terrorists fire rockets into Israeli villages, towns and cities. (So far this year, at least 431 such rockets have been launched from Gaza.)

Another dynamic which the Martin chose not to explore is the fact that Hamas steals medical supplies donated to Palestinians in Gaza by the international community; theft which goes back many years and has been reported in the Arabic media and confirmed by UNRWA.

Finally, it appears that Martin’s letter was a scaled down version of a nearly identical essay he published at his personal blog.  Most interesting was this passage, which was omitted from his Guardian letter:

“How can this upgrade go on when nothing on the ground has improved? In fact matters have gotten worse. Binyamin Netanyahu has recently announced his decision to go ahead with an additional 800 settlements in Israeli occupied territory.”

800 new settlements? Outrageous, isn’t it?!

Well, you may recall that the Guardian’s Phoebe Greenwood made the exact same claim in her original report (referenced above) on the EU Upgrade which Martin’s letter responded to.  Greenwood’s report claimed that “Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu [decided] to build an additional 800 settlements in occupied territory.”

However, as we noted, the number Greenwood used represented a huge mistake – as there are only roughly 132 “settlements” in all of the disputed territories.  What she was evidently referring to instead, was 800 new homes which are to be built in the existing Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa.

The Guardian, later than day, corrected that passage and acknowledged Greenwood’s error.

Moreover, in addition to the fact that both Greenwood and Martin made the same error regarding Israeli settlements, most of the criticism directed at the EU agreement with Israel, cited by Greenwood, stemmed from someone she characterized as an “anonymous EU diplomat”.  And, interestingly, one quote by this “anonymous” diplomat is quite similar to the text in Martin’s blog post.

For instance: Greenwood writes:

“The Brussels-based bureaucrat points out that Europe‘s 500 million consumers constitute almost 60% of Israel’s trade.”

Martin, in his blog post on the same day, writes:

“Europe’s 500 million plus consumers constitute almost 60% of Israel’s trade.”

Martin’s blog post appeared 9 hours after Greenwood’s report.

So, it’s certainly possible that Martin copied and pasted slightly from Greenwood’s story.

However, another explanation is that Mr. Martin is the Guardian reporter’s proverbial “deep throat”. 

11 replies »

  1. Mr.Martin is the Guardian reporters proverbial “deep throat”

    “Deep Throat”……… Hilarious,all sorts of funny images come to mind

    • The World Health Organization does confirm that Israel restricts entry of medicines into the Gaza Strip:

      “The blockade on the Gaza Strip, imposed in June 2007, has affected the functioning and development of the Palestinian health care system in a number of ways: restrictions on importation of medical supplies, equipment and spare parts.”

      That’s all the difference between the Guardian and CIF watch. The Guardian hires journalists who crosscheck information and sources; CIF Watch is written by press attaches who only relay the press releases of the Israeli administration.

  2. “Gaza health care system in crisis”

    You teach your young children to hate and kill,then you will end up severe mental basket cases,and a health care system that is in crisis…….

  3. Perhaps Mr Netanyahu should reconsider,instead of 800 new houses,we should have 800 new settlements.Just to make the Guardian happy……..

  4. Marin is utterly despicable. I can only hope that some Jewish organizations in the UK will have the guts to call him out on his lies.

    Since the Guardian can choose to publish or not publish letters like these, it is yet another example of their unsellable desire to promulgate lies about Israel.

  5. Verbal diarrhea,these people never stop to think what comes out of their mouths.

    Mr Deep Throat here is thick.How do these people get to these jobs,Catherine Ashton is another one.also thick…..

  6. Martin’s “outraged” letter cannot be taken seriously anyway. The man is an MEP – but the first he heard of the Commission’s decision was via the Guardian ??

    As for the first letter – it is way too politicised for what is supposed to be a neutral charity, i.e. Christian Aid. Plus the latter really should pipe down on this issue given the justified outrage over its youth magazine and the extreme anti-Israel content in it. I recall a Guardian CiF article condemning CA. Written by … Adam something-or-other…

  7. The same EU whose leaders deny to qualify the Hezb’allah as a terror organisation, they can’t see enough facts to prove it.
    According to prof. Russel Mead:

    Apparently word has not reached the European Union about some of Hezbollah’s past activities. Perhaps officials might like to look into some of the following:

    •The 1983 US Embassy Bombing in Beirut, which killed 63 people, including American officials and 8 members of the CIA.
    •The 1983 Beirut Barracks Attacks in Beirut, the deadliest terrorist assault on a US target prior to 9/11, which killed 241 Marines, sailors and soldiers and wounded over 100 others.
    •The 1985 Hijacking of TWA Flight 847
    •The 1994 Bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, which killed 80 and injured over 300.
    •The indictment of Hezbollah leaders by a United Nations tribunal for the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
    •Attempted 2009 attacks on Egyptian and Israeli targets, foiled by Egyptian security (with similar incidents in Thailand and elsewhere this year).


    But the EU has at least provided a new answer to an old question.

    Q: What do you call something if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck?

    A: A political wing.

    The same sea, the same waves and the same Europe….

  8. The subject of this article is the moral sickness of a member of the EP then maybe it is not off topic to display here the action of an other EU institution.

    The EU Court of Human Rights today decided

    Mere display in public of a controversial flag could not justify restrictions on freedom of expression.
    In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Fáber v. Hungary (application
    no. 40721/08), which is not final1, the European Court of Human Rights held, by a majority, that there had been: a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
    The case concerned Mr Fáber’s complaint that he was fined for displaying the striped Árpád flag, which has controversial historical connotations, less than 100 metres away from a demonstration against racism and hatred.
    The Court found that the applicant, who had not behaved violently or abusively and had not posed a threat to public order, should not have been sanctioned for merely displaying the Árpád flag.
    Principal facts
    The applicant, Károly Fáber, is a Hungarian national who was born in 1969 and lives in Budapest (Hungary).
    On 9 May 2007, Mr Fáber displayed a flag, the striped Árpád flag which has controversial historical connotations, less than 100 metres away from a demonstration taking place against racism and hatred. The event was organised by a socialist political group on the spot where many Jews were exterminated during the 1944/45 Arrow Cross regime (the
    Hungarian equivalent of the National Socialist Party).

    The according to the court “controversial” flag is the flag of the above mentioned Nazi Party, This court of European humanism alone can explain Nat, Avram, sanity, sencar, benyamin etc. obsession with international laws and human rights.

    Your honors – please stuff this “controversial” flag into your self righteous European arses together with your international laws.

  9. This is Europe too:

    A “Nazi punk” musician who once sang that he would burn down parliament has become Greece’s newest MP.

    Artemis Matthaiopoulos, a member of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, used to play bass for a band called Pogrom, known for its racist lyrics, Britain’s The Times reported on Thursday.
    Among the songs was one titled ‘Auschwitz’, which contains the lines “F*** Wiesenthal. F*** Anne Frank. F*** the whole tribe of Abraham. The Star of David makes me vomit.”