Days of Palestine – Gaza
The Israeli blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip for 15 years has had a profound impact on the living conditions there.
The blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip for 15 years has had a profound impact on the living conditions there. It undermined the unity of the occupied Palestinian territory and tore apart its economic and social fabric.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has called for the full lifting of the blockade on Gaza in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1860.
The new OCHA fact sheet highlights the humanitarian impact of the 15-year-old blockade of the Gaza Strip, as the Israeli occupation authorities have significantly tightened restrictions on movement, leading to almost complete isolation of the Strip from the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the world.
According to OCHA, 1.3 million Palestinians out of 2.1 million in Gaza (62 percent of the population) need food assistance.
Unemployment levels in Gaza are among the highest in the world, as the unemployment rate during the first quarter of 2022 reached 46.6 percent, compared to an average of 34.8 percent in 2006. The unemployment rate among youth (15-29 years old) ) to 62.5 percent during the same period.
Israel has imposed restrictions since the 1990s
The restrictions imposed by the Israeli occupation since the early nineties of the last century, and tightened after the Hamas Movement won the elections in June 2007, under the pretext of security reasons, had a profound impact on the living conditions there.
OCHA notes that the people eligible for exit permits constitute a small minority, and they are mostly workers, businessmen, patients, and employees of international organizations.
So far in 2022, only 64 percent of patients’ requests to leave Gaza for specialized treatment have been approved by the Israeli occupation authorities, primarily in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, at their scheduled treatment dates. In previous years, patients died while waiting for a response to their requests.
While Gaza’s isolation has eased somewhat thanks to the reopening of the Rafah crossing by Egypt in 2018, movement through the crossing remains restricted and the standards applicable to travelers remain ambiguous.
The effect of restrictions on Gaza’s economy
Access restrictions imposed by the Israeli occupation forces have undermined Gaza’s economy, causing high levels of unemployment, food insecurity, and aid dependency.
These include restrictions on the marketing of goods in the West Bank and Israel, the entry of certain goods into Gaza, and people’s access to agricultural land and fishing grounds in Gaza itself.
The number of trucks that entered Gaza loaded with goods during the first five months of 2022, about 8,000 trucks per month, was 30 percent lower than the monthly average during the first half of 2007 before the imposition of the blockade. Since then, the population has increased by more than 50 percent.
The impact of access restrictions is amplified by repeated rounds of hostilities, which have resulted in lost assets and long-term disabilities, a severe energy crisis, and a continuing internal Palestinian division.
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) restrict access off the coast of Gaza, and currently only allow fishermen to reach 50 percent of the fishing grounds designated for this purpose under the Oslo Accords.
Limited access to critical building materials and equipment since 2007 has delayed the construction of homes and infrastructure needed to keep pace with high population growth, the devastation caused by recurrent hostilities, and delays in repairs and restorations.
Although the TRM facilitated the entry of restricted construction materials after the Israeli aggression in 2014, the introduction of other restricted items, particularly those required for water and sanitation projects, remains a major challenge.
In August 2021, the Israeli occupation authorities increased the number of items allowed into Gaza and lifted the general restrictions they had imposed during the state of escalation in May 2021.
Concern about collective punishment
OCHA explained that the blockade raises concerns about collective punishment and other potential violations under international humanitarian law.
According to OCHA, 2.1 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are “trapped” and the vast majority of them do not have access to the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory and the outside world, limiting access to medical treatment that is not available in Gaza, institutions of higher education, and the enjoyment of life. Family, social, access to employment, and economic opportunities.
Moreover, some 31 percent of families in Gaza face difficulties in meeting basic education needs, such as school fees and books, due to a lack of financial resources.