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Gaza residents still endure difficult living conditions, says rights group

January 26, 2023 at 12:34 pm

An old woman and a child try to stay warm by burning brushwood in front of a tent house as they struggle to survive in poverty under Israel’s blockade during winter, in Gaza City, Gaza [Mustafa Hassona – Anadolu Agency]

A human rights group confirmed on Wednesday that the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip are still enduring difficult living conditions under the strict Israeli siege which was imposed on the coastal enclave 17 years ago. In its annual report on the blockade, Euro-Med Monitor pointed out that the Israeli siege has impoverished more than 61 per cent of Gaza’s total population of 2.4 million people.

“The siege has disrupted the employment of approximately 47 per cent of workers and left nearly 53 per cent of the population facing food insecurity,” said the rights group. “Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation authorities use ‘security’ as a pretext to continue to ban the entry of a large number of essential materials and equipment for the health, commercial and industrial sectors in Gaza.”

Although the Israeli authorities have granted 17,000 Palestinians from Gaza permits to work inside Israel after lengthy security and administrative procedures over the past year, said the group, this will not alleviate the severity of the economic crisis. “The consequences of Israel’s blockade have severely harmed all economic and humanitarian sectors, causing long-term damage that requires the lifting of all restrictions imposed on all sectors.”

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According to Victoria Ceretti, a researcher at Euro-Med Monitor, “Entering its 18th year, the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip reflects an abject moral and humanitarian failure on the part of all UN and international entities, who appear to be indifferent to the suffering of two million people being collectively punished in a confined and isolated area.” Even after 17 years of blockade, she added, Gaza residents are not looking for limited and short-term measures to improve their living conditions. “Rather they seek an end to all restrictions that prevent them from enjoying the same natural rights as those living outside the Strip.”

At least eight patients from Gaza, including three children, died in 2022 as a result of the Israeli authorities’ delays or our outright refusals to grant them permits to travel through the Erez crossing for medical treatment.

Euro-Med Monitor called for all UN and international bodies to fulfil their duties regarding the protection of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, and put pressure on the Israeli authorities to stop all forms of collective punishment. It also called for the international community to oblige Israel as an occupying power to uphold all of its obligations under international law towards Gaza’s Palestinian population.

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