CWS joins calls for the Israeli blockade of Gaza to be lifted.
A fragile ceasefire has given the people of Gaza the chance to leave their homes and find food and other supplies. Gaza-based staff from ACT International, of which CWS is a member, report that the situation has been relatively calm as Palestinians begin to count their losses and grapple with the past 22 days of war.
This ceasefire is just the first step to recovery within the Gaza Strip. ACT International’s representative for Israel and Palestine, Liv Steimoeggen, says that the Israeli blockade now has to be lifted. “The silence from the guns has little meaning if the blockade continues”, she says. “The Palestinians can’t live with such a humiliation. Lifting of the blockade is the first real step to peace. We can’t continue as if nothing has happened.”
The people of Gaza have been fenced in since 1996 and Israel controls Gaza’s air, land and sea borders. A siege imposed in June 2007 has left Palestinians struggling at a subsistence level. Israel tightly controls all supplies into the Gaza Strip, including food fuel, electricity and medical supplies. 80% of Gazan households live below the poverty line and are dependent on food aid from international agencies to survive.
“Unless this injustice is addressed there can be no peace,” says CWS Campaign’s Coordinator Gillian Southey. “The blockade must be lifted as part of the efforts towards negotiating a just solution that addresses the root causes of the conflict. The people of Palestine and Israel need a lasting peace.”
About one hundred bodies have been recovered from buildings that collapsed during the fighting and were unable to be reached earlier. Gaza medical officials report that more than 1,300 Palestinians were killed during this latest conflict.
ACT International members report that the cost of living in Gaza has increased dramatically since the war began. One kilogram of meat has increased from about US $13 to $19.50, and one kilogram of tomatoes has increased from US $0.25 to $2.50. The top priorities are the need for food, medication and clean water. Additional concerns include the flooding of the sewage system and the continued disruption of electricity.
19 January 2009