More than a million Palestinians in Gaza have been mired in a miserable limbo for 10 years now—unable to make a living by freely fishing, farming or trading goods, or to leave for study abroad, medical care, work or family visits.
Israel imposed the blockade in response to a democratic election in which the Hamas party won a majority of parliamentary seats.
As a result, of the 1.9M population:
- 43% are unemployed(62% among youth and women—the highest in the world).
- 40% fall below the poverty line.
- 60% are food insecure.
- 55% suffer from clinical depression.
- 40% receive water just 5-8 hours every 3 days due to insufficient power supply.
A few other sobering facts:
- Gaza’s per capita income is 32% lower than in 1994.
- Exports are fewer than 4% of their pre-blockade levels.
- The manufacturing sector has shrunk by 60%.
- Power outages reach 12-16 hours every day.
- 90-95% of the water is unfit for drinking.
- The waiting time for some surgeries at Gaza’s largest
hospital is up to 18 months.
What’s the quickest way to bring some lasting freedom to Gaza? A seaport.
The Palestinians want the blockade to be lifted, with unrestricted travel and trade through the Erez (Israel) and Rafah (Egypt) crossings. But those countries tend to abrogate any agreements at any bump in the road. Thus, the only solution that has a chance for offering reliable independence for the people of Gaza is its own seaport.This would provide Palestinians in Gaza with a secure and dignified passageway to and from the outside world, free from dependence on the usually absent goodwill of Israel and Egypt.
A detailed plan already exists for implementing such a project (visit here: http://www.euromid.org/uploads/reports/Gaza_14-05.pdf), and both the French and Dutch governments had committed to funds and other resources to make it happen—until Israel refused to allow construction materials and other needed goods in.
We call on the European Union to apply serious pressure to Israel to remove the roadblocks! This will require far more than words--including trade sanctions if necessary.
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Posted: 16 January 2016 (Updated: 25 January 2016)