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Gaza: NGOs launch an appeal to lift the blockade

Translated Monday 31 August 2015, by Philippa Griffin

On Wednesday 26th August, thirty-five NGOs appealed to world leaders from numerous states to “put pressure on Israel to lift the Gaza blockade” which, as it stands, presents a gross hindrance to the reconstruction of this coastal region one year after the 2014 war.

“Already one year since the end of open conflict, scarcely 5% of the required construction materials have been able to enter Gaza. At this rate, reconstruction of the strip could take 17 years”, emphasises the appeal, led notably by Oxfam, Action Against Hunger, Christian NGOs and human rights charities as well as by the powerful social media-based NGO Avaaz.

The text spells out that “on this anniversary of the end of the conflict which raged between the Israeli government and armed Palestinian groups, we the signatories request that construction materials such as wood, metal rods and cement be allowed to enter Gaza in order expedite the reconstruction of hospitals, schools and homes”. Throughout the conflict, “almost 19,000 homes were destroyed, with a resulting 100,000 citizens deprived of shelter. The government’s financial backers have promised $3.5 million to the Gaza reconstruction effort, but the Israeli restrictions on materials present a persistent and damaging delay to the construction efforts.”

“One year after the formal cease-fire, scarcely 5% of the 6.7 million tons of construction materials which are so vital for the repair of damages sustained in Gaza have been authorised to pass across the border. At this rate, reconstruction of the strip could take 17 years”. The NGOs highlight the fact that 11 schools and universities have been destroyed, and 253 state and private established severely damaged. “120,000 people still have no access to running water or sanitation, and 81 hospitals and clinics have been either damaged or entirely destroyed.”

“The Israeli government must take the majority of the blame for this crisis”, emphasise the signatories, although they “recognise that reconstruction efforts have also been hampered by the failure of Palestinian political parties to engage in reconciliation and to make reconstruction a priority, and by the closure of Egypt’s borders with Gaza”. They remind us that “the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross have repeatedly stressed that the Gaza blockade constitutes a violation of international human rights. It is neither feasible nor moral to justify collective punishment on the scale of an entire population”; a sentiment which, according to Avaaz, is shared by the 200,000 people who have already signed up to show their support to the appeal.

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