Aid groups call for removal of Israeli blockade on Gaza
A coalition of aid groups has called for the removal of the Israeli-imposed siege on the Gaza Strip, urging the acceleration of reconstruction efforts in the coastal enclave following the latest Israeli war on the territory last year.
A Monday report by the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA) called on Israel to allow the free movement of Palestinians between the occupied West Bank and Gaza “in line with their (Israelis’) obligations as an occupying power.”
The report added that the international community, in particular the “Quartet” of the US, the EU, Russia and the UN, “should propose a time-bound plan to support an end to the blockade.”
The coalition, which includes major charities like CARE International, Oxfam, Save the Children and the Norwegian Refugee Council, further warned of a return to conflict by Palestinians and Israel as the siege on the Palestinian sliver continues to remain in place.
“Without economic, social and political stability, a return to conflict — and the cycles of damage and donor-funded reconstruction that accompany it — is inevitable,” the report said.
Palestinian men sit at the entrance of their house, which was destroyed during the 50-day Israeli war on Gaza last summer, during heavy rains in Gaza City, April 12, 2015. (© AFP)
AIDA also called on the donors that participated in a conference held in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, six months ago to “make good on the pledges made” at the conference and “move forward with reconstruction and recovery projects for Gaza.”
“Six months later, reconstruction and rehabilitation have barely kicked off,” the report said.
Participants in the Cairo meeting vowed to give about USD 5.4 billion (EUR 4.7 billion) in aid for Gaza, which came under deadly Israeli attacks in early July 2014. The war, which ended in late August that year, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians and injured some 11,000 others. Gaza Health officials say the victims included 578 children and nearly 260 women.
According to the AIDA report, 12,400 houses have been razed to the ground in the Israeli aggression, which also damaged more than 160,000 homes. The aggression also led to the displacement of more than a quarter of Gaza’s population of 1.7 million and left 100,000 people homeless.
Yet, “there has been no accountability to address violations of international law, only 26.8 percent of the money has been released, reconstruction and recovery have barely begun, and people in Gaza remain in dire straits,” AIDA said.
The Gaza Strip has been under a crippling Israeli siege since 2007. The blockade, which has cut off the territory from the outside world, has led to an economic and humanitarian crisis in the densely-populated enclave.