In June 2007, Israel intensified their enclosure of the Gaza Strip. This left 2 million people trapped in the largest open prison in human history. In 2016, the UN Secretary-General called it “a collective punishment for which there must be accountability.”
While the siege has failed to bring Israel the security it claims as the reason for these actions, it has heaped misery on two million Palestinians who have effectively become prisoners in their homeland, due to the movement and access restrictions imposed by Israel.
Gaza entered the 15th year of closure, in which Israel controls what goes in and what goes out of the strip. The impact of this on the economic, political and social crisis in Gaza is reaching an urgent scale. Half of Palestinians in Gaza now live in poverty, 80% depend on some form of humanitarian aid, 68% are food insecure, and 69% of the youth are unemployed. The lack of vital supplies such as water and electricity (electricity runs from two to four hours a day), together with the deterioration of the environment, have made Gaza an uninhabitable place. Only 4% of water is fit for human use.
Gaza’s health service is completely inadequate. While the world responds to COVID-19, Palestinians in Gaza are particularly susceptible to the pandemic as they live in one of the world’s most densely populated regions and lack essential medicines and equipment for tackling the virus. Medical instruments, devices and medicines have always been in inadequate supply in Gaza, as have parts of machinery for diagnostic departments and laboratories. Critically life-saving medicines for infants or to treat cancers and other progressive diseases are often unavailable.
Restrictions imposed by Israel on access to land along Gaza’s perimeter fence and to fishing areas along the coast undermine the security and livelihoods of Palestinians. Up to 35% of Gaza’s agricultural land and as much as 85% of its fishing waters have been affected at various points. These restrictions prevent access to large farming and fishing areas and their enforcement places civilians at serious physical risk. Methods of enforcement include the use of live ammunition, detention and harassment of fisherfolk, levelling of farm land, destruction of private and public property, and confiscation of fishing boats.
The siege is illegal and immoral and must end. The time has come for this siege to be unconditionally lifted and for the two million people in Gaza to be allowed to live like any human in the world.
What can you do?
- Demand an immediate end to the siege on Gaza: Contact your government representatives and demand that they call for an immediate and complete removal of the Israeli blockade of Gaza by land, air and sea. Despite the terrible human suffering caused by the blockade, the situation in Gaza should not be viewed as a humanitarian crisis that can be resolved through the provision of international aid and assistance. Rather, the current situation in Gaza is a political crisis that can only be resolved through political action.
- Tag and contact your representatives in parliament/congress. Call on them to immediately denounce the closure of Gaza as collective punishment and exert pressure on their governments to take urgent, concrete and effective action.
- Support or join the solidarity action “Five minutes for Gaza” on 29 November 2021.
- Raise your voice for Gaza social media storm. From now until 29 November 2021, flood all social media platforms with messages in support of Gaza. Use the hashtags #JustRecovery for #Gaza and the statement ‘It is time for Israel to lift the illegal siege on Gaza.’ Share images from the “Make Noise for Gaza” photo exhibition, which is launching this October. Watch this space and stand by to share in solidarity.
For more information contact:
Abeer Al Butmah
Coordinator of the Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network
Friends of Earth Palestine (PENGON)