Five years ago, Israel intensified its blockade of Gaza as a form of “economic warfare”against the de facto Hamas government which controls the densely populated Palestinian enclave. As in all forms of warfare, civilians, especially children, suffer the worst consequences of actions taken by those in power. As part of a coordinated advocacy effort by the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA), MCC has joined more than 50 other humanitarian NGOs in endorsing a simple statement:
For over five years in Gaza, more than 1.6 million people have been under blockade in violation of international law. More than half of these people are children. We the undersigned say with one voice: “end the blockade now.”
The United Nations also recently released a clear and concise fact sheet on the impact of the Gaza blockade. But while facts are important, it’s even more critical to remember that real people face these facts on a daily basis. So here are a few key selections from the UN report, accompanied by photos of Gazans struggling to overcome these conditions:
44% of Gazans are food insecure and about 80% are aid recipients.
34% of Gaza’s workforce, including over half its youth, is unemployed.
During this period, nearly 2,300 Palestinians have been killed and 7,700 injured by Israeli forces, about two thirds of them during the “Cast Lead” offensive. Over a quarter (27%) of all Palestinian fatalities were women and children. Since June 2007, 37 Israelis have been killed and 380 injured in attacks launched from Gaza, 40% of whom were civilians.
The productive capacity of Gaza’s economy has shown almost no recovery, rendering recent economic growth unsustainable. … The continued ban on the transfer of goods from Gaza to its traditional markets in the West Bank and Israel, along with the severe restrictions on access to agricultural land and fishing waters, prevents sustainable growth and perpetuates the high levels of unemployment, food insecurity and aid dependency.
The quality of infrastructure and vital services, including in the areas of health, education and water and sanitation, have significantly declined as a result of the import restrictions and the rapid population growth. A failure to address existing gaps would increase the humanitarian vulnerability of the people. Despite the June 2010 measures to ease the blockade, international organisations continue to face challenges in responding to the most urgent humanitarian needs in these fields, due to the complex approval system for projects put in place by the Israeli authorities.
Since 2009, the Israeli naval forces have prevented fishermen from accessing sea areas beyond three nautical miles from Gaza’s coast, where the main sardine shoals are found. This has severely undermined the livelihoods of 35,000 people.
Farmland located within 500 meters from the perimeter fence is totally inaccessible, while access to areas up to 1500 meters is risky due to frequent ‘warning shots’ by the Israeli army. An estimated 75,000 metric tonnes of produce are lost each year as result of limited access.
To learn more about AIDA’s campaign, click on the following links: