In the latest issue:

Real Men Go to Tehran

Adam Shatz

What Trump doesn’t know about Iran

Patrick Cockburn

Kaiser Karl V

Thomas Penn

The Hostile Environment

Catherine Hall

Social Mobilities

Adam Swift

Short Cuts: So much for England

Tariq Ali

What the jihadis left behind

Nelly Lahoud

Ray Strachey

Francesca Wade

C.J. Sansom

Malcolm Gaskill

At the British Museum: ‘Troy: Myth and Reality’

James Davidson

Poem: ‘The Lion Tree’

Jamie McKendrick

SurrogacyTM

Jenny Turner

Boys in Motion

Nicholas Penny

‘Trick Mirror’

Lauren Oyler

Diary: What really happened in Yancheng?

Long Ling

Close

Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website (www.lrb.co.uk — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.


  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.
Close

‘Don’t ask me how I am,’ a colleague said to me when I arrived at the office yesterday morning. ‘You know how bad things are here now, so please don’t ask.’

Things are certainly very bad in the Gaza Strip. The fuel crisis grinds on, and though Israel has just allowed a small consignment of fuel in, nearly 90 per cent of private cars remain off the road. Bus and taxi services are overwhelmed, and since the taxis have more than doubled their rates, most of us are still walking. Black market fuel prices are extortionate, and the streets reek with gassy and oily fumes because drivers have resorted to converting their cars to use cooking gas, or even cooking oil. These crude conversions are potentially dangerous, liable to induce nausea, eye infections and asthma. The lack of industrial fuel has sparked widespread power cuts (Gaza’s sole power plant is operating at partial capacity), as well as shortages of drinking water: the electric pumps shut down when the power goes off. Up to half of Gazans only have access to drinking water at home for between four and six hours a day. Domestic cooking fuel is increasingly scarce, and on some days there are long queues for bread, because bakers have started turning off their ovens to save gas.

The fuel crisis didn’t start last week, or even last month. Israel has been steadily reducing fuel supplies since October. In February, ambulances in the city of Rafah in southern Gaza were temporarily grounded when the diesel ran out. In April, Israel permitted 152,000 litres of petrol to enter and 33,280 litres of diesel, a tiny fraction of demand.

Last week I drove from Gaza City, where I work with a British aid organisation, down to Rafah, where I talked to several ambulance drivers. Samir Abdul Akil has been driving ambulances for the Palestinian Red Crescent Society for the last five years. ‘The situation is miserable,’ he said. ‘We have to restrict our movements and can only answer emergency calls, but demand for our services has soared, because people have no other way of getting to hospital.’ People are turning up on donkeys or mule carts. Another driver, Asad Daoud, who works at the Emirates Hospital in Rafah, told me his ambulance ran out of fuel completely ten days ago. Despite having a large obstetrics unit, where up to twenty babies are born every day, the hospital can afford only one ambulance. Daoud regularly has to transfer patients to the European Hospital, seven kilometres away, but doesn’t always have enough fuel for the return journey.

The Gaza Strip is 26 miles long and six miles wide, with a total of eight commercial and pedestrian crossings: apart from the Rafah crossing on the border with Egypt, they all lead into Israel. The main pedestrian crossings, at Erez in northern Gaza and Rafah in the south, have been effectively sealed since June 2006, after the abduction by Hamas of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is still being held hostage in Gaza. Hamas and the Egyptian government are now negotiating over whether to open the Rafah crossing on a regular basis, and Gazans are desperately hoping that they will. Everyone in the Strip, even children, requires a travel permit from the Israeli military in order to cross Erez, and the overwhelming majority of applications, including those from people who need emergency medical treatment, are denied on grounds of ‘security’. Over the last year, 33 Gazans, including several young children, have died after being refused a permit, or having their permits delayed. There are 1.4 million people living in the Gaza Strip, and Khalil Shaheen, a human rights activist here, estimates that less than 3 per cent of the population has freedom of movement into and out of the Strip.

The Israeli siege began in the wake of Hamas’s takeover last June, and has been steadily tightening ever since. Imports and exports are severely restricted: Israel has gradually increased the categories of food items allowed to be imported via the commercial crossings from nine to 40, but this apparent liberalisation doesn’t make much difference because the crossings are open so rarely that very little can be brought in. Other goods, including medicines, hearing aids, computers, cardboard and electrical elements, are either in short supply or are not coming in at all. Importing construction materials has been prohibited for months and, apart from small quantities smuggled through the labyrinth of tunnels beneath the border with Egypt, there is nothing to build with. Houses and streets that have been damaged, or bombed, are left as they are. Strangely, Coke is available because it is brought in through these tunnels from Egypt, but fruit juice and milk are impossible to find. The WHO produces a drug list of 480 essential items; Gaza’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa, is 90 items short, and has less than three months’ supply left of another 130. Exports, too, have been drastically curtailed: family-owned strawberry and flower farms have been ruined; the annual catch of Gaza’s fishermen is less than a sixth of what it was five years ago. The people of the Strip are now one of the most aid-dependent populations on earth.

It’s not surprising that morale is at rock bottom, and that my colleagues don’t want to make small talk about how they’re feeling. You can’t watch what’s going on without asking why Israel is so intent on destroying civilian life in Gaza. Israel does have legitimate concerns about the home-made rockets and mortars being fired towards its borders almost every day. Two Israelis have recently been killed and dozens injured; doctors are trying to save the legs of an Israeli toddler wounded in last week’s rocket attack on a clinic in the centre of Ashkelon. But Israel’s main assumptions – that the siege would force the militants to stop launching rockets, and that the Gazan people would rise up and overthrow Hamas – have proved to be false. Though the number of rockets and mortars fired from Gaza has dropped over the last three months, the targeting has become more precise, and the militants are starting to upgrade their rockets, enabling them to strike further into Israel. Hamas has consolidated its power base and is politically and financially secure. As the International Crisis Group noted in a recent report, ‘the belief by some that the siege somehow will lead to Hamas’s overthrow is an illusion.’

Hamdi Shaqqura, a senior researcher at the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza City, says that ‘when we talk about a political power struggle in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, we are talking about the struggle between the governments in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. But there is no real opposition to Hamas here in Gaza. Hamas started to accumulate strength right after the takeover last June, and they have also institutionalised their power base; for instance, they re-established the entire police force. Hamas is now stronger than ever.’

I know many Gazans who say they hate Hamas; the huge majority, including some of those who say they support Fatah, also feel that they have been completely abandoned by the Palestinian Authority. President Abbas, recently forced to deny rumours of his own resignation, has done little to counter accusations that the PA doesn’t really care what happens inside Gaza. Instead, he remains caught up in increasingly pointless talks with the intransigent Olmert, who is once again under investigation for corruption and could be forced out of office himself. The negotiations between Hamas and Israel being brokered by the Egyptians are crucial: until Israel ends its siege, the two sides will remain locked in this ugly stalemate that is making life hellish for almost one and a half million people. The siege is illegal under international law, amounting as it does to the collective punishment of a civilian population. But Palestinian politicians also have a lot to answer for. The political and economic chasm between the Palestinian West Bank and the Gaza Strip has neutered the PA and strengthened Hamas, which, while offering a ceasefire to Israel, has continued to fire rockets over the border. There is no effective political opposition in either the West Bank or Gaza, and while Palestinians on the West Bank continue to endure humiliation at more than five hundred Israeli military checkpoints, the vast majority of Gazans are struggling to survive. Palestinians are fed up with politics, with their inept and greedy leaders, and with everything the Israelis have imposed on them.

Political divisions inside Palestine have played into Israel’s hands. Tamer Qarmout, a Gazan friend of mine who has just been accepted onto a PhD programme in the US to study conflict analysis and resolution, believes the situation has never been so bad for the Palestinians. ‘There is deep fragmentation in our society,’ he said, ‘with families divided because they belong to separate political factions. The moderate voices of Fatah and Hamas need to put their differences aside and reach a political agreement so they can work together. Basically, they need to put the national Palestinian interest above everything else.’ Any dialogue, he says, has to take place ‘outside the political influence of the US, Israel, Syria and Iran’. ‘We have a very just cause. It is very depressing to see how we’ve harmed it and given Israel a perfect excuse to manipulate their legal obligation to end the occupation.’ Whatever the sharply dressed Israeli government spokesmen say, this is not a ‘war against terrorism’. Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza in 1967; 41 years later it is still expanding its illegal settlements in the West Bank while controlling the movement of every Palestinian inside the Gaza Strip. Tamer has no idea whether he will be allowed to leave to study for his PhD.

No one – Bush, Olmert, Abbas, the Egyptians – knows what to do with the Gaza Strip. Gaza has very few friends, and people here don’t understand why the outside world seems to hate them so much, to care so little about what is happening to them. ‘We have no life here,’ Khalil Shaheen said to me last week. The Israelis ‘deprive us of everything – and then what? Our life becomes so fucking difficult that we think freedom means having enough fuel to drive our cars around Gaza, electricity in our homes, and bread in the shops. We are caged.’

Sometimes, living in Gaza is like watching a bizarre experiment in how much people can endure before they crack. Yesterday a friend of mine went to buy a pizza from his local bakery, but the baker had no flour. So he went to another bakery – but the second baker had no flour either, and no fuel. Another friend, Ehab, has not been able to buy shoes for months, because none of the shops has any left in his size. A neighbour, Aitemad, called round to tell me about the trouble she had getting her hair cut. Her hairdresser had no electricity in her shop, so she drove Aitemad to another hairdresser – but her car ran out of fuel on the way. So they had to leave the car and wait an hour for a taxi. I went to see Aitemad last night: we had a candlelit dinner because there was a power cut. Her hair looked great.

While the ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas go on in Sharm El-Sheikh, I am sitting in my living-room in Gaza City with the doors and windows open for some cool air. I can hear bombing in the north; more people may be dying as I write this. The death toll is climbing on both sides, but the number of Israeli and Palestinian fatalities can’t be compared. Fourteen Israeli civilians have been killed by Palestinians this year, two by rockets fired from the Gaza Strip and two by snipers from inside Gaza. In the same period, 333 people in Gaza have been killed by the Israeli military, including 127 adult civilians and 56 children. More Gazan children were killed in the first four months of this year than in the whole of last year. Israel’s siege has achieved nothing but misery and bloodshed.

20 May

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.