Posted by on August 04, 2010 in Blog
Restriction of Movement:
Under the blockade policy, Palestinians are forbidden to leave Gaza except in special cases. Those who can't leave Gaza include many patients who need to leave for necessary treatment. Movement inside Gaza is also restricted by a unilaterally imposed "buffer zone" along the inside of the walls and fences surrounding Gaza. The buffer zone as enforced goes much deeper into Gaza than publicly acknowledged, taking up "between a quarter and a third of Gaza's agricultural land." Farmers working on their land in these areas, as well as the international activists accompanying them, are regularly fired upon by the Israeli army. Some are killed.
Total Ban on Exports:
Prior to the blockade, 70 truckloads of exports left Gaza each day. Under the current policy, "exports have been entirely banned" with very small exceptions, crippling Gaza's economy.
Operation Cast Lead:
Israel's assault on Gaza in December 2008/January 2009 devastated the infrastructure at an estimated cost of $659 million to $891.8 million. 84% of the damage was inflicted on three key sectors: housing, agriculture, and the private sector. According to a report published by over a dozen humanitarian and human rights organization at the end of 2009:
"700 private businesses across commerce, industry and services were destroyed or suffered serious damage to buildings, equipment or stock, resulting in a combined loss put at US$139 million. Even before the offensive, 98% of industrial operations in Gaza were idle because of the blockade... Greenhouse, livestock shelters, irrigation channels, wells and pumps were bombed or bulldozed on a huge scale. The blockade now prevents replacement materials or parts from being brought in."
According to the latest numbers from Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Gaza's overall unemployment rate is at 33.9% (nearly 5 times that of Israel), with the governorate of Khan Yunis in Gaza leading with 41% of unemployment. According to the aforementioned report, an estimated 120,000 jobs were lost in the private sector alone since the imposition of the blockade (Gaza's entire population stands at 1.4 million people).
"Easing" the Blockade is not enough!
Despite the recent changes in the blockade that allow for humanitarian aid to come in unrestricted, Gaza's economy remains strangled by the blockade, and cannot be revitalized to meet the needs of the population so long as restrictions on trade and commerce with the outside world remain in place. Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's Director for the Middle East and North Africa, explained:
"Just as important as allowing goods into Gaza is allowing exports to leave Gaza, yet there is no mention of this... Banning the vast majority of exports, raw materials and the movement of people has destroyed the economy of Gaza, and pushed its population into unemployment, poverty and dependency on aid agencies for survival. These problems will not be solved while the blockade continues."
The minimum requirements of a decent and dignified life for Palestinians in Gaza include the complete lifting of the blockade to allow for the revitalization of the economy, by facilitating freedom of movement and trade with the outside world.
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