PSN presents two teach-ins this week on the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the ongoing efforts to end the Israeli blockade. The same teach-in will be offered twice this week:
Excerpts from Amnesty International report, “Suffocating Gaza – the Israeli blockade’s effects on Palestinians”
June 1, 2010
“Israel’s military blockade of Gaza has left more than 1.4 million Palestinian men, women and children trapped in the Gaza Strip, an area of land just 40 kilometres long and 9.5 kilometres wide.
Mass unemployment, extreme poverty and food price rises caused by shortages have left four in five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid. As a form of collective punishment, Israel’s continuing blockade of Gaza is a flagrant violation of international law.
… The blockade prohibits most exports and restricts the entry of basic goods, including food and fuel. Much of the available food is provided by the UN and other aid agencies, or smuggled in through tunnels running under the Egypt-Gaza border and then sold on at exorbitantly high prices to Gaza’s beleaguered residents.
The situation has been made worse by the Egyptian government’s construction of a steel wall along the border at Rafah to disrupt the cross-border smuggling that has become Gaza’s lifeline, as well as the bombing of tunnels by the Israeli airforce.
… According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the number of refugees living in abject poverty in the Gaza Strip has tripled since the blockade began. These families lack the means to purchase even the most basic items, including soap, school materials and clean drinking water. According to the UN, more than 60 per cent of households are currently “food insecure”.
… Gaza’s health sector has been plagued by shortages in equipment and medical supplies during the blockade.
… The Israeli authorities frequently delay or refuse these permits; some Gazans have died while waiting to obtain permits to leave the territory for medical treatment elsewhere.
World Health Organization (WHO) trucks of medical equipment bound for Gazan hospitals have repeatedly been turned away, without explanation, by Israeli border officials.”