Two months after the military coup in Egypt, the Gaza Strip continues to live through the worst shortages of medical equipment and fuel as well as difficulties on movement in and out of the Strip, a report issued by three international organisations said.
EuroMid Observer for Human Rights in cooperation with the Palestinian Return Centre in London (PRC) and Malaysian Consultative Organization (MAPIM) issued the report, ‘Slow Death’. The report focused on the negative effects of the siege on Gaza which has led to severe shortages in the Strip.
According to the report, Gaza residents are facing “severe shortages” in their basic needs as well as healthcare equipment and medicines. It also said that all other sectors were suffering serious shortages.
The report said that food and fuel needs can barely be met as the Egyptian army has closed most of the tunnels used to smuggle in essential goods.
The report also explained how the closure of the Rafah crossing by the Egyptians had affected the freedom of movement of Gaza’s residents. Thousands of Palestinians and foreigners wanting to leave the Strip as well as thousands wanting to enter face major difficulties because of the closure of the crossing the report said.
The report, which had a detailed look at the effects of the siege since its early stages, summarised the current deterioration in living conditions in Gaza as being at its worst since November 2008, when Israel launched a full-scale military operation, Cast Lead.
The unemployment rate in Gaza has hit 35.5 per cent, according to the report, and the rate is set to continue to rise as more tunnels are being closed day by day.
As a result of the shortage of fuel and electricity, only a quarter of households receive running water for a couple of hours on a daily basis.
People started to feel the shortage of clean drinking water as mass filters cut daily work hours. “Over 90 per cent of the water extracted from the Gaza aquifer is unsafe for human consumption.”
On sewage water, the report said that, “Some 90 million litres of untreated or partially treated sewage water are dumped in the sea off the Gaza coast each day, creating public health hazards.”
The Gaza economy has endured severe losses worth of $460million in all economic sectors within the past two months.
The organisations that issued the report called for Israel to lift the siege on Gaza and to end the suffering of innocent civilians. They also called for Egyptian authorities to fully open the Rafah crossing without any restrictions.
They went on to call for the international community to put pressure on Israel to push it to stop “human rights violations.” They also called for the international community to separate the “collective punishment of the Palestinians by Israel from the political conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis.”
On freedom of movement, they called for the international community, mainly the EU and US, to “initiate and support the need for a seaport in Gaza that guarantees the free import and export of goods and private international travel.” This would, to a large extent, contribute to solving the food, fuel and trade problems.