Middle East Watch
La revue de presse alternative pour un Moyen Orient libre

avril 2017


Failing Gaza

A report one year after Operation Cast Lead

22 décembre 2009,

This report is published by : Amnesty International UK Broederlijk Delen (Belgium) CAFOD (UK) CCFD Terre Solidaire (France) Christian Aid Church of Sweden Diakonia (Sweden) Finn Church Aid (Finland) Medical Aid for Palestinians medico international (Germany) medico international schweiz (Switzerland) Mercy Corps MS ActionAid Denmark Oxfam International Trocaire (Ireland) United Civilians for Peace (a coalition of Dutch organisations - Oxfam Novib, Cordaid, ICCO, and IKV Pax Christi) For

A year after Israel launched its Operation Cast Lead
military offensive on Gaza, on 27 December 2008,
little of the extensive damage it caused to homes,
civilian infrastructure, public services, farms and
businesses has been repaired. As thousands of
families still come to terms with loss or injury of their
loved ones, they are being prevented from rebuilding
their shattered society.
This is not for a lack of determination by the
people of Gaza or of resources committed to do
the job. Indeed, over US$4 billion was pledged
in March 2009 by the international community
to assist reconstruction in Gaza and to support
the Palestinian economy. Gaza’s jobless people
are only too ready to put their skills and work into
rebuilding their wrecked homes or getting the
shattered water, sewage and electricity systems
working again. Crossing points into Gaza from
Israel have been designed and tested and security
procedures developed that could facilitate the
large-scale entry of the materials needed for
reconstruction. But little of this committed money
has been spent. Goods and equipment earmarked
for rebuilding languish in storage outside Gaza. And
much of Gaza still lies in ruins.

This is not an accident ; it is a matter of policy. The
Israeli government’s blockade, imposed in 2007
after Hamas took control of Gaza (though long
preceded by regular closures and restrictions), not
only forbids most Gazans from leaving or exporting
anything to the outside world, but also only permits
the import of a narrowly-restricted number of
basic humanitarian goods. Desperately-needed
reconstruction materials are not counted amongst
these. So the civilian population and the United
Nations and aid agencies that aim to help them are
prohibited from importing materials like cement or
glass for reconstruction in all but a handful of cases.
Indeed, since Operation Cast Lead, only 41
truckloads of construction materials for all purposes
have been permitted into Gaza. Thousands of
truckloads are required to rebuild all the houses
destroyed. And this is to say nothing of all the
remaining reconstruction desperately needed to
put right damage to all the schools, hospitals, other
buildings and water network because of previous
military action or serious dilapidation caused by lack
of repair materials due to the blockade. The rest of
this paper sets out other evidence of the blockade’s
continuing and devastating impact, based on the
experience of the authoring agencies and data from
the UN.

International responsibility

Israel has the primary responsibility to end the Israel
has the primary responsibility to end the blockade.
Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas must
also play their role. Though the focus of this report
is on the blockade, we also cite examples of how
PA-Hamas tensions, and actions by both have
created additional hardship. The people of Gaza
have suffered as a result of all these governments,
at times, failing to uphold their rights.
We condemn all indiscriminate rocket attacks on
Israel from Gaza. Israel has the right and obligation
to protect its citizens. The policy of blockade,
punishing the entire civilian population of Gaza
for the acts of a few, is a collective punishment,
which is unacceptable and violates international
law. The blockade is also in breach of UN Security
Council Resolution 1860, and of the Agreement
on Movement and Access signed by Israel and the
Palestinian Authority in 2005.
While members of the international community – to
varying degrees – profess their disapproval of the
blockade, they have failed to secure any significant
progress, including any change to the prohibition
on construction materials, let alone a commitment
to end the policy as a whole. Expressions of
disapproval and hand-wringing by the international
community are not enough after two and a half years
of the blockade and a year on from Cast Lead, with
no improvement on the ground. The people of Gaza
have been betrayed by the international community
which can and must do far more to end the illegal and
inhumane blockade.
This report highlights what more the international
community can do to help lift the blockade. The
particular focus is on the European Union, which is
a major funder of humanitarian and development
programmes in the occupied Palestinian territory and
Israel’s largest export market. Despite occasional
strong language on the severe humanitarian
impact of the blockade, the EU has not succeeded
in translating its words into action to end it - an
example of the wider failure of the international
community to do all that it can to lift the blockade.
Through its development co-operation and ongoing
political engagement with the Palestinians the
EU has detailed knowledge of how the blockade
is systematically destroying the hopes of Gaza’s
people for social and economic development and
of its business sector for growth and trade ; and with
them, destroying the key foundations for a just and
sustainable peace.
The European Union should now take an international
lead, alongside the US and other players, to secure
an end to the blockade. Now that the Lisbon Treaty is
in force, the EU has an important opportunity to fulfil
its vision of a more coordinated and effective foreign
policy by agreeing and organising a unified push to
end the blockade of Gaza.
The EU must now resolve to undertake concerted
action in the New Year so that the end of Spain’s
six-month Presidency in June 2010 does not also
mark the third anniversary of a continuing blockade
on Gaza. Securing an immediate opening of the
crossings for building materials to repair ruined
homes and civilian infrastructure as winter sets in
would be an important first achievement.

Time to rebuild

As European and international relief, development, and
human rights organisations – with operations or partners
in Gaza working to overcome poverty or protect human
rights - we see that it is the ordinary people of Gaza
who are bearing the brunt of the blockade. Whether it is
Gaza’s children, its most vulnerable citizens, farmers or
factory workers, all are suffering the consequences.
In a report in March 2008 many of us came together to
warn that, because of the blockade, conditions in Gaza
had deteriorated to their worst levels since the start of
the Israeli military occupation in 1967. In another report
in September 2008, three months before Operation
Cast Lead, a group of us examined the record of the
Middle East Quartet (Russia, US, EU and UN) on
making good their commitments on the Middle East
Peace Process, warning that on Gaza, ‘if the cessation
of violence ends, the consequences for civilians – both
in terms of violent attacks against civilians and the
humanitarian situation – will be dire. To this end, all
Quartet members should demonstrate robust, public
support for the cessation of violence and take further
steps to deepen it.
Tragically, that cessation of violence did not last. And the
conditions the blockade had caused, documented in the
two previous reports, have since been compounded.
This new report focuses in particular on how the
blockade has prevented the importing of construction
materials, including cement, glass and iron bars.
Homes, businesses, factories, farms, schools, hospitals
and essential infrastructure like the water and sanitation
and power systems remain in ruins – and with them the
hopes of people in Gaza of rebuilding their lives.
Operation Cast Lead left a legacy of destruction and
loss. It is time to allow the people of Gaza to begin to
pick up the shattered pieces of their lives and rebuild, by
ending the blockade that prevents them.
There must be no more excuses.


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