Gaza One Year Later - by Stephen Lendman
A December 2009 report prepared by Oxfam International, Amnesty International UK, United Civilians for Peace, Christian Aid, and a dozen other international NGOs (called NGOs below) titled, "Failing Gaza: No rebuilding, no recovery, no more excuses" is hard-hitting and to the point.
It says a year after Operation Cast Lead, extensive damage hasn't been repaired and thousands "are being prevented from rebuilding their shattered society." It's not from a lack of commitment or enough resources with over $4 billion in pledged aid. It's because Israel blocks goods and equipment from entering Gaza. The world community and Arab world do nothing to stop them, so much of the Strip still lies in ruins.
Following Hamas' January 2006 electoral victory, all outside aid was cut off. Sanctions and an economic embargo were imposed, and the democratically elected government was falsely designated a terrorist organization and isolated. Stepped up repression followed as well as regular IFD attacks, killings, targeted assassinations, property destruction, and more. Gazans have been imprisoned ever since.
Since June 2007, the Strip has been under siege, described in an August 2009 OCHA report ("Locked In: The Humanitarian Impact of Two Years of Blockade on the Gaza Strip") as a:
"protracted human dignity crisis with negative humanitarian consequences." At its heart is the "degradation (of) living conditions," the erosion of livelihoods, the lack of vital services in the areas of health, water, sanitation and education, and the collapse of essential infrastructure in the wake of Operation Cast Lead.
Gazans can't leave, export anything, or live freely on their own land. In addition, Israel lets in restricted amounts of essential goods, far too inadequate to relieve the grave humanitarian crisis by design to essentially starve its residents into submission, or perhaps eliminate as many of them as possible by slow motion genocide.
In addition, all materials needed to rebuild are prohibited, including cement, glass, wood, gravel, steel bars, spare parts, and more. In May, the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce reported unemployment reached 65%, poverty 80%, and the longer the siege continues, the higher these figures go. Further, 96% of Gaza's industrial capacity was destroyed and closed, and well over 80% of the population is aid-dependent. Yet most get below minimal amounts of virtually everything.
Expressing alarm and frustration, the NGOs say:
"Israel has the primary responsibility to end the blockage." So does the world community to stop the illegal collective punishment of 1.5 million people. "The people of Gaza have been betrayed (by powerful nations) which can and must do far more to end the illegal and inhumane blockade:" an unconscionable grievous crime against humanity.
The NGOs' report focuses on what the international community can do, especially the EU as "a major funder of humanitarian and development programmes in (Occupied Palestine) and Israel's largest export market."
Thus far, its nations have abstained, as have others able to help. In a March 2008 report, many of the NGOs warned that the siege caused the most deplorable conditions in Gaza since the 1967 war and occupation. Then in September, they examined the Quartet's record (the US, Russia, EU and UN), warning that:
"if the cessation of violence ends, the consequences for civilians - both in terms of violent attacks against civilians and the humanitarian situation - will be dire. To this end, all Quartet members should demonstrate robust, public support for the cessation of violence and take further steps to deepen it."
The two and a half year siege, compounded by Operation Cast Lead's mass killings and devastation "left a legacy of destruction and loss. It is time to allow the people of Gaza to begin to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives and rebuild, by ending the blockade that prevents them. There must be no more excuses."
Israel's Agenda: Siege and Blocked Rebuilding