Geneva – The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor called for putting an end to the 15-year-old tragedy of the Gaza blockade; stressing that the current arrangements for holding general Palestinian elections require serious international guarantees that the blockade will end without conditions related to the election results.
In its annual report on the repercussions of the Gaza blockade, entitled “suffocation and isolation”, Euro-Med Monitor examined the Israeli blockade effects on the lives of Gazans. The report compares Gazans’ living conditions before the blockade on one hand, and the current situation (15 years after) on the other.
The report confirms that during the past decade, the per capita economic losses in Gaza has reached about $9,000 due to the long-term closure and the military operations to which the Gaza Strip is subjected too. A United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report issued on November 25, 2020, concluded that the economic cost of the Israeli occupation on the Gaza Strip during the past decade is estimated at %16.7 billion.
Noura Erakat, Euro-Med Monitor’s member of Board of Trustees, said that “We are now entering 2021, the fifteenth year of Israel's naval blockade and land siege, and the global community seems unfazed by the unlivable conditions in the tiny coastal enclave or the fact that an entire generation has grown up isolated from the world - save for its contact with advanced weapons technologies raining down on them from Gaza's skies.
“These conditions are unconscionable and have no moral, legal, or policy justification. The siege must end without preconditions and condemned to the history of atrocities never to be repeated again”.
The report indicated that unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip is still among the highest in the world. After it reached 23.6% in 2005, in 2020, it reached 49%, while the per capita share of the GDP shrank by 27%.
Poverty rates also jumped from 40% in 2005 to 56% in 2020. Poverty gap increased as well from 14% to 20%, and the cost of lifting the Gaza population out of poverty quadrupled, from $209 million to $838 million.
The report stated that in 2020 the monthly rate of goods trucks entering the Gaza was about 7,000. This number is not enough for half of Gaza’s needs, taking into account the population increase since 2005 and the number of trucks entering in that year.
Before the blockade was imposed on the Gaza Strip, the monthly rate of Palestinians traveling via Erez crossing, run by Israel, was about 30,000 travelers. In 2019, the number was about 14,960 travelers, while in 2020, it dropped to 4,600 cases – a decrease of about 85% from the rate before the blockade in 2006.
As for the Rafah crossing bordering Egypt, in 2019, the monthly rate of travelers via the crossing was about 12,172 cases, while in 2020, the monthly average was only 4,245 cases.
The report confirmed that the crossing work was mainly affected by the outbreak of the Coronavirus. It was closed for extended days, while hundreds of thousands of patients, students and businesspeople remained waiting for the opening of the crossing.
As for the health sector, it remains the most affected, showing a clear indication of the deteriorating humanitarian conditions. In addition to the acute shortage of medicines and medical equipment, hospitals and primary care centers are still operating at low levels of capacity. The situation further exacerbated after the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).
The ongoing arrangements for holding the general Palestinian elections require local, regional and international mobility to end the blockade and provide guarantees that it will not be repeated in the future if it was lifted.
The right approach to ensure the upcoming elections success is the issuance of a binding international resolution to end the blockade, which international legal references agree to constitute as war crimes. Guarantees should be provided that the blockade will not be repeated (if it was ended), the will of the Palestinian voters will be respected, and a peaceful and democratic circulation is ensured in a way that achieves stability and prosperity for the Palestinians.