Euro MP publishes report of his visit to Gaza (With full Report)

 

BOLTON Euro MP Sir Robert Atkins has published a report into his visit to the Gaza Strip.

Sir Robert, the North West Conservative MEP, said he was shocked to find how bad the situation is in the Palestinian enclave.

He said: “All in all, it is an appalling state of affairs. I had been briefed beforehand as to conditions in Gaza, but it was far worse than I had imagined.

The world needs to know what is going on there and to do something about it.”

Redevelopment of Gaza, since the shelling by Israeli troops in December, 2008, has been slow due to blockades imposed there by Israel.

Concrete and other building materials are not allowed through and Sir Robert, who visited Gaza as part of European Parliament’s Delegation to the Palestine Legislative Council, had to travel via Cairo to get there.

He said: “The Strip is about an hour from Tel Aviv airport but we were refused that option and so had to fly to Cairo and then take a wearisome six-hour coach journey through North East Egypt.”

The full report is available to read online at Sir Robert’s website at http://www.sir-robertatkins.org

Below the full  report without the images:


THE RT. HON. SIR ROBERT ATKINS MEP
Representing the NORTH WEST of ENGLAND

Contact Nos: 01995-602225 (H) 07770254444(M)
01995-605690 (Fax) 0032-228-45373 (Brussels)
E-Mail:
ratsmep@sir-robertatkins.org
www.sir-robertatkins.org


Newsletter Edition 76

December 2010

I hope that, by now, you will have received the Annual Report and 2011 Calendar. Given postal delays etc., you may not get it for a day or so but it will arrive before Christmas! This report is, therefore, as promised, about my recent trip to Palestine and Gaza.

I went as a Member of the European Parliament’s Delegation to the Palestine Legislative Council and the first difficulty put in our way by Israeli authorities was sensible access to Gaza. The Strip is about an hour from Tel Aviv airport but we were refused that option and so had to fly to Cairo and then take a wearisome 6-hour coach journey through North East Egypt to the Rafah Crossing – which is in Egypt. Israel does not welcome visitors to Gaza!

War Damage

Understandably so when one sees the incredible damage done to this ravaged little country and the intolerable conditions in which people are living. The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) deliberately shelled or bombed hospitals, schools, homes and mosques – most of which have not been repaired because Israel refuses to allow the necessary materiel through the crossing points.

Gaza residents are trying to rebuild and recycle the rubble wherever possible – by donkey cart, as there is not much fuel available – but Israel refuses to allow cement into the Strip so progress is slow, where possible at all. UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) has told the Israeli authorities that there is an immediate need to rebuild at least 100 schools for 34000 children. But Israel has only agreed to the materiel for six. 34000 children will therefore not be able to go to school!

Food

UNRWA is feeding 752,000 people daily, of whom 300, 000 are in abject poverty, unable to provide any food for their families. The EU is meeting the cost because Arab/Muslim States have made financial promises to cover this expense but very little has been forthcoming.

Sanitation

90% of the water is wholly unfit for human consumption and attempts have been made to build desalination plants. But Israel has refused the necessary materiel. So too with sewerage. 80 million cubic litres of raw untreated sewage is pumped daily into the Mediterranean. The urgent need for renovation and replacement is overwhelming but, yet again, no co-operation from Israel.

Crossing Points

The crossing points are open intermittently and the Israeli authorities make their operation as difficult and bureaucratic as possible. For example, aggregate and wheat are tipped into a pit on consecutive days, with little or no provision for cleaning. Thus the wheat is regularly contaminated with gravel and has to be taken away for filtering.


All in all, an appalling state of affairs. I had been briefed beforehand as to conditions in Gaza, but it was far worse than I had imagined. The world needs to know what is going on there and to do something about it.

West Bank

From there to Nablus in the West Bank travelling to Cairo by coach and then flying back to Tel Aviv. Wholly pointless and unnecessary.

Restrictions

The first reminder of divisions in the Occupied Territories is the Wall – a gross offence to humanity.


And other restrictions on the free movement of Palestinian residents include the requirement for Special Passes, checkpoints, Palestinian-only buses, roads open only to Israeli settlers and a new Metro which neatly divides Palestinian and Israeli communities. All this in the Palestinians’ own country. A South African diplomat has said that the apartheid in Palestine is far worse than in the old South Africa. What an indictment!


Settlements

There are upwards of 500,000 illegal Israeli settlers in the West Bank & East Jerusalem and they include people who live in houses where local Palestinians are evicted illegally. I met a family, comprising a grandmother, her daughter and young grandchildren, literally thrown out of their house at 4am by 40+ armed Police, Soldiers and Special Forces – and their belongings smashed or confiscated. This happens daily. I confronted the ultra-orthodox Jew now living there, from Brooklyn in the USA, asking him why he had stolen someone’s home. “God gave it to me” he said, “This has been Jewish land for 4000 years and it is all ours. Palestinians are scum!”

The Quartet

We went to meet Tony Blair’s Quartet in its luxurious suite of offices in the American Colony Hotel. Blair was not there but, then, he rarely is these days. It has achieved very little, costs a great deal of money and is despised by both Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Politicians

We met a cross-section of elected politicians, including Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a familiar face on European television. She is a highly articulate Palestinian Christian and her cool and calm exposition of the iniquities of the Occupying Power was devastating in its thoroughness and detail.

Conclusions

Finally, we were able to discuss all that we had seen with the PLC Prime Minister, Dr. Salam Fayyad. The core conclusions that we drew from both meetings were clear and specific:-

1. The so-called Two State Solution – Israel and Palestine living side by side – is almost dead. “One minute to midnight” declared Dr. Ashrawi. The alternatives are not good – to put it mildly.

2. The illegal settlements continue to be built and wanton violence of some settlers upon local Palestinians is condoned by the Israeli Security Forces.

3. The Wall must come down and the other harsh restrictions upon Palestinians must be eased and removed.

4. The illegal and cruel evictions must be stopped.

5. The Gaza blockade must cease.

There was a collective view that:-

a. President Obama and the USA were not to be trusted as they only took the Israeli position.

b. The Quartet is a waste of time and money.

c. The EU is a payer, not a player.

d. The future is very uncertain, with increased dissatisfaction amongst moderate Palestinians and the likelihood of more violence from the younger generation.

This is a bleak assessment of a bleak state of affairs. I will do whatever I can to contribute to the resolution of these intractable problems but it will take Governments, especially those of the EU and USA, to sort it all out. There is not much evidence that they will.

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Euro MP publishes report of his visit to Gaza (From The Bolton News).

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