Gaza Under Siege
Since June 2007, Israel has imposed a suffocating blockade on the Gaza Strip. A report by over 80 independent humanitarian organisations - including the World Health Organisation, revealed that Israel’s deliberate policies are endangering the health of 2 million Gazans, most of whom are below the age of 25. The long term effects from the lack of food and nutrition, along with poor access to healthcare, is leaving many children and young people malnourished and in poor health.
Due to restrictions on imports and exports, many Gazans have lost their sources of income. Exports have been almost entirely halted. Before the siege 1,000 or so containers were exported from Gaza a month. This has fallen to a total of just 259 during the last three years. Hundreds of businesses and factories have been forced to close. This has caused a sharp decrease in the standard of living and unemployment has rocketed. Poverty has increased in the Gaza Strip by 40%. In desperation, Gazans have been driven to using underground tunnels to access necessities such as baby milk, medicines, school materials and home appliances. These tunnels are vital lifelines to Gazans, but Israel is clamping down on them, accusing Hamas of using them to smuggle in weapons.
The UN Environment Program, along with the Palestinian Water Authority and other international aid organisations, warns that 95% of Gaza’s water is polluted and unfit for drinking. Naturally, this has health impacts as access to clean drinking water is essential for any population. Whilst Gazan’s suffer from a lack of clean water supply, just next door, Israeli’s enjoy lavish swimming pools and lush gardens. The disparity in wealth between the two neighbouring peoples is appalling.
Before 2005, Israel had numerous illegal settlements in the Gaza Strip. Following global criticism of the occupation and heavy international pressure, Israel said it would end the occupation of Gaza by evacuating the illegal Israeli settlers. Many celebrated this move, but in the years which have followed, it is clear that Israeli withdrawal from Gaza did not in fact end the occupation.
Instead, Gaza has become an open air prison, with Israel still controlling borders, the sea, and the air ways.
Palestinian fishermen are affected by restrictions of the so-called ‘buffer zone’ - a military no-go area. Anyone caught in this zone is subject to attack or arrest.
Reports of naval attacks on fishermen are wide-spread. Numerous fishermen have also been detained for several hours; with some being forced to swim back to shore from their boats. Boats have also been deliberately sabotaged by the Israeli forces and fishermen injured.