For over 17 years now, Israel has been enforcing a suffocating siege on the Gaza Strip, which is seen as a gross breach of international law, exacerbating the suffering of Palestinians by all means.
According to international law, the Gaza Strip remains under Israeli occupation, despite the unilateral withdrawal from the Strip in 2005.
Israel retained full control over the land, sea, and air access points to the Strip. Similarly, it controls the population registry in Gaza, communication networks, and many other aspects of daily life and infrastructure.
Instead of fulfilling its duty to protect civilian populations, Israel imposed unprecedented forms of collective punishment on the people of Gaza, in blatant violation of international humanitarian law.
Gaza Blockade Exacerbates Humanitarian Crisis in the Gaza Strip
The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip continues to deteriorate, with the Gaza blockade wreaking havoc on the lives of the population. As of September 2023, the blockade has pushed more than 61.6% of the Strip’s inhabitants, approximately 2.38 million people, into poverty.
Healthcare Sector Struggles Amidst Blockade
The health sector in Gaza is witnessing a profound decline due to the impact of the Israeli blockade, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. The availability of essential drugs has dwindled, with over 20% of crucial medications unavailable by September 2023. Alarmingly, more than 40% of essential drugs are insufficient for more than two months.
In 2022, only 36% of permit applications from Palestinian patients seeking passage through the Erez crossing were approved, a stark contrast to the 97% approval rate in 2005. This has dire consequences, particularly for cancer patients, where almost 50% struggle to access necessary treatment.
Shortages extend to laboratory supplies, with over 30 basic items in short supply. Medical consumables and surgical instruments are also in critically low stock. Additionally, essential medical radiotherapy devices for cancer patients are obstructed by the occupation, exacerbating their suffering.
Fuel shortages for generators further endanger the lives of patients within hospitals, especially during power outages that last up to 12 hours a day.
Economic Impact of Israeli Blockade
By September 2023, the Israeli blockade has prevented nearly half (47%) of Palestinian labor force participants from working. Approximately 53% of the population faces food insecurity.
Israeli restrictions on the movement of goods and people through the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings continue to hinder economic activity. The majority of individuals allowed passage are limited to humanitarian cases after extensive security checks.
Israel persists in barring the entry of crucial people, materials, and equipment needed for healthcare, commerce, and industry under security pretexts. Workers face dire conditions, earning an average daily wage of just $3, far from sufficient given the challenging living conditions and soaring prices.
Widespread Poverty and Unemployment
Alarming poverty rates have soared to 80%, with severe poverty affecting 36% of the population. Unemployment has skyrocketed to 85%. UNRWA reports that 80% of Gaza’s population relies entirely on humanitarian aid.
In the West Bank, 31% of Palestinians face difficulties meeting basic needs, while in Gaza, the figure rises to 80%. These challenges encompass access to food, healthcare, and public utilities. The number of unemployed individuals stands at approximately 250,000 in 2023.
Agricultural and Fishing Sectors Suffer
More than 3,500 Palestinian fishermen, along with numerous assistants, rely on fishing for their livelihoods, supporting over 45,000 people with no alternative income source. The Israeli occupation has deliberately targeted these fishermen, reducing their allowed sailing distance from 20 miles to just 6 miles.
In recent years, monthly catch rates have plummeted to a mere 70 tons, significantly impacting the income of fishermen. The agricultural sector has also borne the brunt of the siege and wars, with 85% of it destroyed. The ban on fertilizers and grains, coupled with water scarcity, has damaged agricultural lands and crops.
Statistics reveal that 35% of arable land is off-limits for agricultural use, with agriculture contributing a mere 7.1% to Gaza’s GDP. The Israeli blockade and military attacks have caused losses of $1.3 billion in the agricultural sector from 2006 to 2022.
Electricity Crisis Persists
The Gaza Strip’s electricity crisis traces its roots back to the onset of the blockade in 2006 when Israeli forces bombed the main transformers at the sole power plant in Gaza. Despite partial repairs, a shortage of fuel to operate the plant results in a substantial power deficit, with up to 12 hours of daily outages.
Under international law, the Gaza Strip remains under Israeli occupation, with Israel exerting control over its land, sea, and air access. This control extends to Gaza’s population registry, communications networks, and various aspects of daily life and infrastructure. Instead of protecting the Palestinian civilian population, Israel’s blockade constitutes a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, subjecting the people of Gaza to unprecedented collective punishment.