Posted by on February 04, 2010 in Blog
U.S. Should Urge Israel to Lift the Gaza Closure to Relieve Grave Humanitarian Crisis
The Arab American Institute (AAI) has joined six other organizations that strongly support President Obama’s peace efforts in the Middle East in a letter to the President dated February 4 urging that the U.S. persuade Israel on an urgent basis to lift its closure policy to relieve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, affecting 1.4 million civilians.
The letter, which can be viewed at www.aaiusa.org, makes the following points:
- Because of severe restrictions of essential imports and most exports caused by Israel’s closure policy, Gazans have been unable to restore minimal standards of welfare or to rebuild Gaza’s civilian infrastructure, housing, and the economy after the destruction of the war last year.
- Per- capita income in Gaza is now about $1 a day. 40% of Gazans are jobless. Many thousands of Gazans – 70% of whom are under 30 – are homeless. Power outages average eight hours a day, for lack of fuel.
- Israel’s closure policy is designed to weaken Hamas’ hostile leadership, to persuade Hamas to cease firing rockets at civilian targets in Israel, and to release Corporal Gilad Shalit. However, the closure, instead of accomplishing these goals, has harmed Israel’s security by strengthening Hamas and adding to tensions that threaten renewed violence.
- Gazans’ rights to minimal standards of food security, shelter, health, education and to travel are protected under international law. These needs should not be held hostage to security and political issues.
- Therefore, the United States, while supporting a resolution of security and political issues that are essential to achieve peace between Israel and Palestine, should, in the meantime and urgently, ask Israel to change its closure policies to relieve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
“Even before the war, Gaza was a humanitarian crisis in the making. It is unconscionable that collective punishment of an entire population continues to this day,” said AAI President Dr. James Zogby. “In order for there to be genuine progress towards peace, the people in Gaza can no longer be ignored.”