OCHA: Israel still tightens the Gazans’ access to their land and sea waters

[ PIC 06/07/2013 – 07:59 AM ]


OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The escalating restrictions imposed by Israel on access to land along Gaza’s perimeter fence and to fishing areas along Gaza’s coast undermine the security and livelihoods of Palestinians, the UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territories stated in a recent report.

According to the report, Israel has tightened its restrictions on the Gazans’ access to the sea and to land located near the fence since September 2000 at the pretext of security concerns.

Up to 35 percent of Gaza’s agricultural land and as much as 85 percent of its fishing waters have been affected at various points, the report said.

The Palestinian access to farming land within 300 meters of the perimeter fence separating Gaza from the 1948 occupied lands is largely prohibited and risky.

Fishermen are currently allowed to access less than one third of the fishing areas allocated under the Oslo accords, about six out of the specified 20 nautical miles from the coast.

There are currently 3,500 registered fishermen in Gaza and 2,000 people work in fishing-related industries, the report noted.

The fish catch lost as a result of access restrictions between 2000 and 2012 is estimated at approximately 1,300 metric tonnes per year.

The report pointed out that these Israeli restrictions caused 95 percent of Gaza fishermen to receive regular international aid.

Prior to November 2012, access restrictions resulted in a loss of approximately 75,000 metric tonnes of agricultural produce, valued at 50.2 million dollars per year.

12 percent of the homes destroyed during operation Cast Lead in 2008/2009 was located in access restricted areas.

13 schools with 4,800 students and staff are located within 1,500 meters from the fence and have had class sessions disrupted due to Israel’s enforcement of access restrictions.

Since June 2007, 214 Palestinians have been killed, including at least 127 civilians, and 825 injured, including at least 761 civilians, in the access restricted areas.

During the same period, five Palestinian fishermen were killed and 25 others were injured when the Israeli naval forces opened fire at them to enforce access restrictions.

The Brutal blockade of Gaza

Editorial- Arab News | June 15, 2011Gaza reels under five years of Israeli siege as the world community stands and stares

It has been five years since Israel imposed its oppressive and inhuman blockade on the Gaza Strip. Without doubt it has been easily one of the toughest and most trying periods in the eventful history of the Palestinian people. The proud and fiercely independent people, however, have refused to give in to Israeli diktats or allow their fighting spirit to waver under the totally asphyxiating blockade of Gaza by land, air and sea.

However, the Palestinians have had a monumental price to pay for their defiance. The United Nations report on Gaza, issued to mark the five nightmarish years of Israeli siege on Tuesday, makes for disturbing reading and must come as a wake-up call to the world’s sleeping conscience. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) has slammed Israel for the acute humanitarian crisis in Gaza, warning of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Nearly half of Gaza’s population is unemployed. Wages have fallen 34.5 percent since 2006 when Israel inflicted its “sanctions” on Gaza imprisoning its entire population for the sin of electing Hamas in Palestinian legislative elections. Most of Gaza’s population is not just desperately impoverished, it craves and has to fight for basics such as food, medicines to fuel.  Nothing can get in — or get out. Many put their lives on line to smuggle in these “valuables” using those tunnels under Gaza’s Rafah border with Egypt. Not surprisingly, the Palestinian refugees, the poorest of the poor who make up two-thirds of the Strip’s population, are the worst hit.

An anguished UNWRA says it’s “hard to understand the logic” of deliberately impoverishing so many and condemning hundreds of thousands of potentially productive people to a life of destitution.  But then whoever said there was any logic or reason behind any of Israel’s actions? If Israel had ever been inspired by reason or common sense, we wouldn’t have this crisis created by the world’s longest occupation in the first place.

Ironically, the UN claims, the punitive Israeli blockade has failed to affect or weaken Hamas or made it any less popular. Indeed, the UN findings suggest the Hamas government in Gaza has been able to actually increase public employment by one fifth even as private sector jobs have vanished in the same period.

The question is, how long will this shameful state of affairs continue? How much more an already persecuted people have to suffer before the world community — if there’s such a things as the world community— decides to confront Israel and its powerful patrons?

What is the Palestinian crime? The audacity to choose who they want as their representatives and leaders? Isn’t this the very freedom that people in Western democracies routinely exercise? Why does it become a problem when the same right is exercised by the Palestinians and Arabs? Why are international champions of democracy and freedom, howling over the atrocities of Libyan and Syrian regimes, silent on Israeli crimes? It is precisely because of this hypocrisy and double standards that no one today takes Western lectures on democracy and freedom seriously.


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