Geneva—The latest statistics from the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor demonstrate in stark detail the catastrophic consequences of Israel’s 10-year blockade of Gaza. Forty percent of Palestinians in Gaza now live below the poverty line and 80 percent rely on emergency relief aid to put food on the table.
An estimated 922,000 Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip now receive different forms of aid; 6 out of 10 families suffer from food insecurity. The shame and the stress of trying just to survive has contributed to a rise in domestic violence, impacting a startling 73 percent of families.
The Israeli government imposed the blockade on Gaza in 2006, following the Palestinian elections that January in which the Hamas party won a majority of parliamentary seats. The result has been collective punishment. Thus, Euro-Med has launched a petition calling on Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to advocate for an independent seaport for Gaza.
"The Palestinians want the blockade to be lifted, with unrestricted travel and trade through the Erez [Israel] and Rafah [Egypt] crossings,” says Ramy Abdu, PhD, Euro-Med chair. “But those countries tend to abrogate any agreements at any bump in the road. Thus, the only solution that has a chance for offering reliable independence for the people of Gaza is its own seaport.” A few other statistics:
• Fifty percent of children are in need of psychological support, and 55 percent of the entire population have experienced or suffer from depression.
• The unemployment rate has reached 43 percent, making it the highest in the world. Youth unemployment is estimated at an even higher 62 percent.
• Electricity is off an average of 12-16 hours per day. Forty percent of the population receive only four to eight hours of water every three days due to lack of power.
• Ninety-five percent of water in the Strip is undrinkable.
• Daily, 90,000 cubic meters of wastewater is dumped untreated into the sea due to lack of power and the proper equipment.
• Hospitals are operating at only 40 percent of capacity. Patients sometimes must wait 18 months to have an operation at Gaza's largest hospital, Al-Shifa. Worse yet, many patients do not receive the necessary medical care at all due to lack of medicine.
• In the years since the blockade was imposed, Gaza’s industrial sector has shrunk 60 percent, the GDP by 50 percent, individual income by 32 percent and exports by 4 percent
• It is estimated that 100,000 homes still need to be rebuilt in Gaza to house internally displaced families. Israel has launched three military attacks on the Gaza Strip since 2008.
Since the last assault in the summer of 2014, only 40 percent of aid pledges made by international governments and institutions during the donor conference in Cairo have actually been fulfilled. In addition, the near-continuous closure of the borders has prevented essential construction materials from entering the Strip and thus delayed the recovery process. Compared to 2005, the number of Palestinians allowed to enter or leave through the Israeli Erez crossing point has declined by 75 percent.
Likewise, Egypt’s Rafah border crossing was open for only 20 days in 2015. "Israel continues to commit flagrant violations of human rights in the Gaza Strip," says Abdu. "Simultaneously, Israel prevents investigation commissions and UN inspectors from entering Gaza for fear of solid evidence of Israel's criminal behavior will be exposed.
All sectors of life in Gaza are at risk of a major collapse soon. As an occupier, Israel is obligated by international law to fulfill its allow the Palestinians in Gaza to live productive, dignified lives."
Sign the petition to call on the European Union to apply serious pressure on Israel to lift the blockade