Posted by on August 04, 2010 in Blog

The health situation in Gaza, already worrisome during the early period of the blockade, was severely exacerbated in the aftermath of Israel's assault on Gaza in 2008/09 (known as Operation Cast Lead), in which much of Gaza's infrastructure destroyed with the possibility of repair due to the blockade.

According to the Goldstone Report, "Levels of stunting and thinness in children and of anemia prevalence in children and pregnant women were worrying already before [Operation Cast Lead]." During Israel's assault on Gaza in 2008/09, Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth said "Gaza was in the midst of a humanitarian crisis even before this fighting started due to Israel's unlawful blockade... and now it is facing a catastrophe."

Death By Blockade:

In 2007 alone, some 40 Palestinians died due to lack of access to adequate medical care under the blockade and the inability to leave the Gaza Strip for treatment. By the end of 2008, the number had risen to over 260. Gazans continue to die in heartbreaking circumstances under the siege.

According to a report put out at the end of 2009 by over a dozen humanitarian and human rights organizations (including Oxfam and Amnesty International), Israel's 2008/09 assault on Gaza damaged or destroyed many miles of Gaza's water network, as well as sewage treatment facilities, much of which were never rebuilt as a result of the blockade's restrictions on the necessary equipment and materials. This caused "sewage to further contaminate groundwater," making only 5-10 percent of the water in Gaza's portion of the coastal aquifers drinkable by the end of 2009. The same report indicates that:

Poor water quality in Gaza leads to serious health concerns, with vulnerable groups such as children suffering most... In Gaza, diarrhea, an easily preventable disease, is behind 12 percent of young deaths.

Why the humanitarian "easing" is not enough:

While more humanitarian supplies are allowed into Gaza after Israel's announcement of the change in policy, people continue to be trapped within Gaza's borders due to the persistence of the blockade. According to Amnesty International, "This closure makes it extremely difficult for Palestinians in Gaza to exit even to receive necessary medical treatment."

A deliberate policy of collective punishment which plunged Palestinian public health in Gaza with this dire state is legally indefensible and morally reprehensible. The blockade must be lifted entirely for the rapid recovery of the population.


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