Top Ten Reasons For Lifting the Blockade of Gaza

November 30, 2010

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10. 80% of the population is dependent on international aid
61% of the population is food insecure
Unemployment rate is around 39%, one of the highest in the world
Power outages usually last 4-6 hours a day and often longer
60% of Gaza’s population receives running water only once every 4 or 5 days, for 6-8 hours
50 to 80 million liters of untreated or partially treated sewage are released into the sea every day
About 90% of water supplied to Gaza residents is not suitable for drinking and is contaminated with salt and nitrates
78% of homes with major damages from Operation Cast Lead have not been rebuilt

These are the key humanitarian indicators of Gaza as listed in a new report by a coalition of 22 development, human rights, and peace-building organizations. The report Dashed Hopes: Continuation of the Gaza Blockade (pdf) describes the lack of change in Gaza despite Israel’s pledge to ease the blockade. The report calls for the international community to renew action for an immediate, unconditional, and complete lifting of the blockade and comes shortly after Tony Blair, the international Mideast envoy, emphasized that Israel needs to ease the blockade after meeting with the Israeli prime minister:

There has been significant change in Gaza, but not nearly as much as we need

His words echo the September statement made by EU foreign policy Chief Catherine Ashton, who stated

Gaza remains a source of great concern for me … at the present time, we think that what’s happened with Gaza is unsatisfactory, the volume of goods is not increasing as significantly as it needs to.

While the international community has relaxed its pressure on Israel, little has been done to ease the restrictions for the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, half of whom are children. According to the report, Israel has not only neglected to ease the blockade but also failed to live up to various commitments it made.

Israel promised to expand and accelerate imports of construction-materials for UN and other international reconstruction projects. Israel has thus far only approved the import of materials for 25 UNRWA schools and clinics, for which only a fraction of the necessary materials has been allowed to enter Gaza. Furthermore, the approved plans represent only seven percent of UNRWA’s total reconstruction strategy. This fall 40,000 eligible children were unable to enroll in UN schools because materials were unavailable for building construction. Additionally, the UN estimates that rebuilding houses alone will require 670,000 truckloads of construction materials, a tough number to meet when an average of only 715 truckloads per month have entered the Gaza Strip since June.

The so-called ‘easing’ has had no impact on the current ban on exports. Two-thirds of industrial businesses in Gaza have closed and the remainders are operating at partial capacity due to the stagnant economy. Production in Gaza cannot compete with the influx of finished consumer goods entering the Strip and undercutting the local economy.

No Freedom of Movement

For the majority of people living in Gaza the freedom to travel, work, study, or visit family and friends outside the blockade has been continually denied. The exception to this is the increase in flows of businesspeople, who have been allowed to travel across the border. However, despite this improvement, the number of Palestinians in Gaza crossing into Israel remains below one percent of levels prior to the second intifada in 2000.

The Top Two Reasons

2. The blockade is collectively punishing the entire civilian population, and is thus illegal under international law
You tell me (There is a comment section below, or just shoot me a tweet @ckoettl…)