Monthly Statement for (December 2015 - January 2016)
With the entering of the tenth year since the Israeli blockade has been imposed on the Gaza Strip, it is obvious that humanitarian conditions of the now 1.9 million population are dramatically deteriorating. 70% of the workers are living in poverty, most of whom because of the limited entry of construction materials and thus opportunities. Unemployment rates are alarming, having reached 60%, according to The Public Workers Union. These facts make lifting the blockade not only a desparate need, but a well justified demand.
“Operation Cast Lead” anniversary:
Seven years on the 21-day Israeli offensive (2008-2009), codenamed ‘Operation Cast Lead’, the International Committee for Breaking the Siege on Gaza regret that the international community failed to bring justice to the Palestinian victims and hold the perpetrators accountable. We confirm that Cast Lead’s human and material toll deals a blow to the international values of solidarity and human liberation, and calls upon the free people worldwide to mobilize for the protection of and the realization of human rights and justice for the helpless Palestinians. While we confirm that the woes of wars add to the brunt of the blockade.
Arrest of travelers:
ICBSG condemn the daily Israeli occupation’s measures against Palestinian patients and their attendant relatives, and merchants with permits travelling via the Israeli-controlled Beit Hanon (Erez) crossing. We view the arbitrary arrest of 44 Palestinians, including four bound for medical treatment abroad, three NGO workers, and two women, throughout 2015 as a serious development of the violations against the civilian population of the besieged enclave. This policy continues in 2016 as the Israeli security arrested a Palestinian upon a five-hour-long interrogation session, and turned back his wife who is in bad need for treatment. While we find inhuman the procrastination in responding to patients’ requests for travel permits to receive treatment in the West Bank and Jerusalem hospitals or those in Israel. These prevention practices are in tune with the systematic violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights, particularly the continuation of the blockade.
On the other hand, the semi-complete closure of Rafah crossing throughout 2015 aggravates the already tight strangulation of the Gaza Strip. 21 days of opening caused many students and researchers to miss their studies abroad, while many of those suffering from different illnesses have waited in vain and sometimes passed away. We stress on the depoliticization of the Rafah border issue so that Palestinians can feel some freedom away from the darkness of the Israeli blockade.
ICBSG condemn the Israeli violations against Palestinian fishermen and fishing sector over the last year and in the meantime. This is yet another face of the war on the livelihoods of thousands of workers who provide for tens of families. Palestinian sources documented one death, 27 casualties, 63 arrests, and 123 firings in 2015 alone, while the material toll included 19 boat confiscations and 12 sabotages of the fishing tools. With the advent of 2016, 14 fishermen, including 10 at once, were arrested, and 4 boats confiscated. We see such infringements as an extension of the Israeli blockade. On this occasion, we salute the fearless and honest efforts of our international delegations who keep thinking of and innovating ways to untie the maritime noose of a three nautical miles limit imposed by the Israeli navy for fishing, the latest of which was the Swedish launch of Marianne flotilla on the 25th of July 2015.
We express our deep concern about the exacerbating of 100,000 people who have been still living in makeshift homes since the 51-day war of 2014 ended. We ask the donors who convened in Gaza Reconstruction Conference in Cairo to deliver their pledges in order to alleviate the housing crisis that is exposed by the extreme heat of summer and the bitterly cold of winter. We thank every tangible effort aimed to expedite the reconstruction process, most recently that which resulted in the opening of The Indonesia Hospital in Gaza's largest refugee, Jabalya and the progress marked with the building of a Qatari-funded center for prosthetics, in addition to the completion of the first - of three - stage of a Qatari housing project, which delivered shelters for 860 of those whose homes were destroyed.