Geneva - More than half of the population in the Gaza Strip is below the poverty line, as the enclave completes 14 years of Israeli blockade, a report by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor revealed.
In light of the United Nations' 2012 report that predicted Gaza won't be livable by 2020, the report highlights significant indicators of grave deteriorations in health, economy, education, and virtually all other aspects of daily life for Palestinians in the besieged enclave.
“The Report provides overwhelming evidence of how Israeli policies and practices have undermined the economic and social structures of Gaza,” said Richard Falk, Chairman of Euro-Med Monitor’s Board of Trustees. “It is a cause of particular concern that this situation of Israel lawlessness with such a dire impact on the civilian population is allowed by the United Nations and its member States to continue for so long without a much more concerted effort to induce Israel to comply with international law, lift the blockade, and cease all forms of collective punishment.”
“This long-lasting humanitarian scandal in the world involves the entire Palestinian population of Gaza, and challenges the conscience of all of humanity.” Falk added.
The report stated that the indicators of humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip have "shockingly" multiplied, noting that while the unemployment rate among the population was about 23.6% in 2005, today – as 2020 kicks off – it reached a staggering 52%. Unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip is among the highest in the world as a direct result of the blockade and repeated attacks on Gaza that compromised the enclave's economy and led to the destruction or closure of multiple companies and industries.
In addition, 54% of the population is below the poverty line, compared to 40% in 2005, two and a half times higher than that of the West Bank. While food insecurity has reached 71%.
On the macroeconomic level, the Gaza Strip contribution to GDP declined to less than 20% at the end of 2019. At the same time, the average per capita income in Gaza decreased to 800 USD annually, compared to an average of 3,600 USD in the total Palestinian territories.
The report highlighted that during 14 years, Israel has worked to establish a policy of isolating the Gaza Strip and separating it from the West Bank. It explained that Israel's violation of Gazans' right to freedom of movement is one of the clearest indications of the impact of the blockade on reducing freedoms and strangling life in the Strip.
Out of seven crossings for the movement of individuals and goods before the imposition of the Israeli blockade, only three operate today, two of them connect Gaza with Israel and one connects Gaza with Egypt, which has led to reducing the number of passengers, cargo trucks and aid to less than half. For example, the average number of crossings through the Erez Crossing per month reached 65,000 crossings before the imposition of the Israeli blockade. This was reduced to less than a quarter during 2019, where it reached only 14,000 crossings per month at best.
The report emphasizes that Gaza's health sector remains the most affected, as shortages in necessary drug have reached about 52% at the beginning of 2020, compared to only about 16% in 2005. This basically means that the health sector is unable to provide treatment and health care to the vast majority of the population, where waiting periods for many surgeries are around 16 months, compared to only three months in 2005.
Euro-Med Monitor called on the international community to assume its responsibilities in protecting Palestinian civilians, by working hard to end the long-term Israeli occupation of the Palestinians and to stop war crimes and collective punishment against the civilian population, including by lifting the blockade.
The Geneva-based organization also called on the international community to urge Israel to abide by its responsibilities towards the occupied population as assured by international covenants, treaties, and norms.
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor called on the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfill their obligations contained in Article 1 of the Convention, according to which, the Contracting Parties are required to respect the Convention and to ensure Israel's commitment to it. Likewise, the Contracting Parties should fulfill their legal obligations under Article 146 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which allows for the prosecution of those accused of committing grave breaches of the Convention.
Euro-Med Monitor also urged that those involved in violations against Palestinian civilians – including Israeli leaders and soldiers – to be referred to relevant courts, including the courts of states party to the Geneva Conventions, in accordance with the principle of universal jurisdiction and the International Criminal Court and to ensure that they get a fair punishment.
Click here to view the full report