World Fails Gaza: Aid Groups

As Gaza is still reeling under a choking Israeli siege for two years and a half, the world has betrayed the 1.6 million people in the strip by failing to act to end the blockade, 16 aid groups says in a report on Tuesday, December 22.

"It is not only Israel that has failed the people of Gaza with a blockade that punishes everybody living there for the acts of a few,” Jeremy Hobbs, executive director of Oxfam International, said in the report cited by the Guardian.

“World powers have also failed and even betrayed Gaza’s ordinary citizens.

“They have wrung hands and issued statements, but have taken little meaningful action to attempt to change the damaging policy that prevents reconstruction, personal recovery and economic recuperation."

Israel has slapped a tightened blockade on Gaza since Hamas was seized control of the coastal strip in 2007.

The situation worsened after Israel launched a three-week deadly onslaught on Gaza last December, killing more than 1,400 people and wounding thousands.

The offensive wrecked havoc on the infrastructure of the densely-populated enclave, leaving some 20,000 homes and thousands other buildings in ruins.

Israel bans the entry of materials needed to rebuild Gaza, such as cement and steel, effectively undermining efforts to rebuild the strip.

The siege has sharply increased poverty in the strip, leaving eight out of every 10 Gazans dependent on aid and leading businesses to close and lay off workers.

"The wretched reality endured by 1.5 million people in Gaza should appal anybody with an ounce of humanity,” Kate Allen, Amnesty International’s UK director, said.

“Sick, traumatised and impoverished people are being collectively punished by a cruel, illegal policy imposed by the Israeli authorities."

Open Crossings

Leader of Britain’s Liberal Democrats party, Nick Clegg, admits that little has been done to lift the Gaza siege.

"Tough sounding declarations are issued at regular intervals but little real pressure is applied," he writes in the Guardian.

"It is a scandal that the international community has sat on its hands in the face of this unfolding crisis.”

The NGOs, including Amnesty International, Oxfam International, Cafod, Christian Aid, Medical Aid for Palestinians and 11 other agencies, urged the European Union to take immediate and concerted action to lift the Gaza blockade.

"Punishing the entire civilian population of Gaza for the acts of a few is a collective punishment which is unacceptable and violates international law.”

The groups urged the new EU’s foreign minister Lady Ashton to pay an urgent visit the besieged strip.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt was the only European minister who visited Gaza since the Israeli siege on slapped.

The Middle East envoy Tony Blair visited the coastal enclave for the first time in March, two years after he was appointed.

"Securing an immediate opening of the Gaza crossings for building materials to repair ruined homes and civilian infrastructure as winter sets in would be an important step towards an end to the blockade."
 
(IslamOnline.net and Agencies)

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