< HOME  Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Rights Groups: World has Betrayed the Citizens of Gaza


The international community has betrayed the people of Gaza by failing to end an Israeli blockade to allow the territory to be rebuilt, a group of 16 rights groups said in a report on Tuesday.

The report argued that Israel was in violation of international humanitarian law by enforcing a "collective punishment" with an indiscriminate blockade on Gaza - punishing all for the acts of a few.

According to the report, Israeli authorities have allowed only 41 truckloads of construction materials into Gaza since the end of its three-week offensive last January. The report added that thousands of such deliveries would be needed to repair homes.

"World powers have failed and even betrayed Gaza's ordinary citizens," said Jeremy Hobbs, Oxfam International's executive director. "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," he added in a statement.

The report, compiled by 16 international and western European humanitarian and human rights groups, was released to coincide with the first anniversary of the Israeli offensive.

Reconstruction of Gaza, home to 1.5 million people, has been hampered by the Israeli blockade that stops materials such as cement and steel reaching the territory, despite billions of dollars of aid pledges.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor blamed Hamas for the restrictions.

"Those who want Gaza to have free access to the world should first and foremost endeavor to stop the Hamas rule of terror, so that crossings to Israel and to Egypt can be operated without fear," he said.

The report's authors urged the European Union to take immediate and concerted action to secure the lifting of the blockade.

It said that 90 percent of people in Gaza suffer power cuts of four to eight hours a day. Poor water quality was also a major concern for aid agencies, with diarrhea causing 12 percent of young deaths.


Shocking revelations about the war on Gaza - Local Arab Press editorial


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