[News] Humanitarian Groups Appeal for End of Gaza Siege
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
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
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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