20 EU officials visit Gaza as Palestinian NGOs call for an end to Israel's 'illegal' blockade
20 European Union representatives on Wednesday arrived in the besieged coastal enclave to look at the humanitarian situation in the area as Palestinian official calls to end the 16-year Israeli blockade.
"The diplomatic delegation arrived at the territory for a two-day trip to check the humanitarian situation in Gaza and follow up on projects funded by the EU," Shady Othman, the spokesman of the European Union Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah, told The New Arab.
"The delegation will visit schools belonging to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) as well as hold meetings with Palestinian officials at non-government institutions working on civil issues," Othman said.
"The humanitarian situation in Gaza is very bad, and the residents need to find a solution to end the Israeli blockade," he added.
As a result, many houses owned by poor families were negatively affected by the weather depression as dozens of streets and low-lying areas, were flooded with rainwater.https://t.co/v6PE3nSchC— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) January 16, 2023
Since 2007, the residents of the Gaza Strip, home to more than 2.3, have been suffering from an Israeli and Egyptian blockade imposed after the Islamic Hamas movement controlled the territory.
In addition, Israel launched five large-scale military wars against Gaza, killing and wounding thousands of Palestinians in Gaza and destroying thousands of civil and official facilities.
Since then, the humanitarian situation deteriorated, with residents of the besieged coastal enclave struggling to survive amid high rates of poverty and unemployment.
"The Israeli blockade has caused serious repercussions because of the continued deterioration of the economic, social and humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip," Amjad al-Shawa, the head of the Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) Network in Gaza, said to TNA.
He said that the Israeli blockade caused "a humanitarian catastrophe that affected all aspects of life for the residents of the strip, which is the highest population density in the world."
Recently, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its report that “the longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza have undermined the living conditions of locals.https://t.co/RvLtWlxVQo— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) January 31, 2023
Up to now, he further said, Israeli authorities continue to impose restrictions on the movement of goods and people, prevent farmers from accessing their agricultural lands in the border areas, target fishermen in a restricted fishing area and prevent the entry of many raw materials, devices and equipment, therefore hindering the development of the economic sector.
As a result, he stressed, more than 60 per cent of the population of Gaza is food insecure, and the unemployment rate has reached 50 per cent, while among the younger population it has reached more than 70 per cent, the highest in the world. Moreover, more than 61 per cent of the population lives under the poverty line.
Al-Shawa added that the Israeli authorities prevented over 33 per cent of Gaza's patients from access to treatment outside of the coastal enclave. In addition, the Israelis are still preventing entry of crucial medical devices and equipment, despite sustained power outages daily, as well as a significant water shortage since 97 per cent of Gaza's water is not suitable for drinking.
Al-Shawa stressed that the deterioration is accompanied by the international community's inability to pressure Israel and is aggravated by the donors' reduction of financial support to the UNRWA and civil society organisations that work to provide services to Palestinians.
He held the Israeli government legally, politically and moral responsibility for the situation in Gaza due to the blockade, which he described as "collective punishment", a crime "that requires accountability before the International Criminal Court."
In 2012, the United Nations said in its annual report that the Gaza Strip will be "unlivable" if the Israeli blockade persists. Since then, the UN repeatedly warned of the sharp deterioration of living conditions in the Gaza Strip.