22 international NGOs slam Israel's blockade of Gaza

Ahram Online, Tuesday 30 Nov 2010

A report on Israel's Gaza blockade has been jointly released by 22 international humanitarian groups highlighting the ongoing humanitarian crisis within the isolated strip

Gaza blockade
A Hamas policeman checks a shipment of strawberries before it moves to Israel from Gaza at the Kerem Shalom border crossing near Rafah in southern Gaza, Sunday, 28 November 2010. Israel needs to do more to ease its blockade of Gaza according to international humanitarian organisations. (AP)

A partial lifting of Israel's Gaza blockade has done very little in improving life for residents of the Palestinian coastal enclave according to international humanitarian groups.

A report by 22 organisations entitled "Dashed Hopes: Continuation of the Gaza Blockade" says that Israel has neglected its pledge and failed to address major elements of the blockade in its "easing" measures.

The international coalition, in a press release, called for renewed international support to "ensure an immediate, unconditional and complete lifting of the blockade".

"Israel has so far only approved the import of materials for 25 UNRWA construction projects for schools and clinics, a mere seven per cent of UNRWA's entire reconstruction plan for Gaza," it said of the UN Relief and Works Agency, charged with caring for Palestinian refugees as quoted in AFP.

"Even for these approved projects, only a small fraction of the required construction materials have actually been permitted to enter Gaza so far," it added.

"Only a fraction of the aid needed has made it to the civilians trapped in Gaza by the blockade," said Jeremy Hobbs, director of Oxfam International, in the joint statement accompanying the report. "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."

A dreadful 22-day Israeli military offensive, which ended in January 2009, devastated Gaza and reduced much of its infrastructure and houses to rubble.

Israel banned the import of cement and other construction materials for 18 months following the attack, saying that it was likely to be used by Hamas.

Building supplies may only be brought into Gaza by recognised international organisations managing specifically approved projects. Israel still maintains a tight naval blockade on the territory.

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