[News] Humanitarian Groups Appeal for End of Gaza Siege

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Nov 30 11:46:38 EST 2010

Humanitarian Groups Appeal for End of Gaza Siege


  Tuesday November 30, 2010 18:15
 by Alessandra Bajec - IMEMC & Agencies 
Report post


A coalition of 21 international human rights 
organizations called for end to 'cruel and 
illegal' Gaza blockade, arguing that the partial 
lifting agreed by Israel has made a limited 
impact in improving life of Gaza civilians, sources reported on Tuesday.

A report by 21 groups published on Tuesday, 
entitled "Dashed Hopes: Continuation of the Gaza 
Blockade", revealed that Israel's 'easing' on the 
import of materials for UNRWA and other 
international building projects did not change 
anything in the lives of the civilian population of the Strip.

The coalition of non-government organizations 
included Oxfam, Amnesty International, Save the 
Children, Christian Aid, Medical Aid for 
Palestinians, and the Norwegian Refugee Council.

According to the study, Gazans are still 
suffering from a shortage of construction 
materials, a ban on exports, and severe 
restrictions on movement of civilians, six months 
ahead of Israel's loosening of its embargo on the coastal enclave.

The report showed that Israel's easing measures 
focus on food and consumer products however with 
little effect on larger projects. Overall, 11% of 
the construction materials that entered Gaza 
before the blockade is now getting in.

The UN plans to build 100 schools and 10,000 
housing units, some of which to replace those 
damaged or destroyed during the Gaza war. To 
date, it has started implementing only 7% of 
these projects, and their progress has been obstructed by Israel.

Many of the thousands of homes, schools, clinics 
and businesses hit in the three-week war in 
2008-09 are still unrepaired, nearly two years 
ahead because of the shortage of building materials.

Around 40% of the 1.5 million impoverished 
population of Gaza are jobless, and 80% depend on 
aid. Nevertheless, some businesses are still 
unable to import raw materials they need. The 
humanitarian organizations denounced that 
two-thirds of Gaza's businesses have closed since 
the blockade was tightened in June 2007.

Except for strawberries and carnations sent to 
European markets, exports remain banned. Clothing 
factories are now allowed to import fabric but cannot export finished items.

With regard to the maintained control on the 
movement of people, the study indicated the 
number of permits granted to people to leave Gaza 
amounts to less than 1% of the number 10 years ago.

Also, no progress has been reportedly made on the 
"buffer zone" around Gaza's borders, which takes 
over 35% of Gaza's arable land and 85% of 
maritime fishing waters "with devastating impact 
on the economy and people's rights and 
 Boundaries of the restricted areas 
are highly arbitrary and enforced by live fire," 
Six civilians have been killed and 50 injured by 
Israeli fire in the buffer zone since the easing of the siege six months ago.

Jeremy Hobbs, director of Oxfam, stated: "The 
only real easing has been the easing of pressure 
on the Israeli authorities to end this cruel and 
illegal practice
Israel's failure to live up to 
its commitments and the lack of international 
action to lift the blockade are depriving 
Palestinians in Gaza of access to clean water, 
electricity, jobs and a peaceful future."

In expressing deep concerns over Israeli siege on 
the Gaza strip, which entered its fourth year 
last June, the aid groups called for renewed 
international action to unconditionally lift the 
blockade: "There cannot be a just and durable 
resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 
without an end to the isolation and punishment of people in Gaza,"

The enquiry provoked an angry response from 
COGAT, the Israeli military body responsible for 
Gaza, condemning the claims as "biased and 
distorted". It declared the number of trucks 
entering the Gaza Strip on a daily basis had 
increased by 92% since last June, adding that 
there were security and logistical issues in 
relation to export of goods and import of construction materials.

Israel agreed to ease the siege on Gaza in 
response to growing international pressure to 
ease restrictions, following last May Israeli 
raid on a flotilla of aid boats trying to breach 
the blockade, in which nine Turkish activists were killed.
Israel currently allows in import of food and 
many other consumer items, but there is still a 
ban on arms or construction materials which, 
Israel argues, could be used by militants for 
military purposes across the border.

Israel continues to maintain a complete naval blockade on the Strip.

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