Israel’s squeeze on Gaza

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israel has cut supplies of diesel to Gaza by more than 40% since 28 October, and supplies of industrial gasoline, vital for Gaza’s power plant, by about 9%. This is the latest step in an ever-tightening economic blockade of Gaza. Its economy is now on the brink of collapse. Of the estimated 5,000 small industrial workshops in Gaza, 95% are now closed, and 80% of the population are dependent on food aid from UN agencies. The situation is made worse by the decision of the PA in the West Bank to stop the payment of wages in the next fiscal year to 17,000 PA employees in Gaza.

The main border crossings from Gaza have been effectively closed since June, with Israel stopping medical supplies and preventing the exit of severely ill Palestinians for medical treatment. According to the head of UNRWA: ‘Restrictions imposed by the occupying power result in Gaza’s hospitals being deprived of necessary medical equipment and supplies (91 drugs are now at zero stocks in Gaza, including many for children in the primary health care centres). At the same time, the closure of the Erez and Rafah crossings result in many seriously ill people being denied the opportunity to seek medical treatment in Israel, the West Bank or Egypt.’

On 19 November an eight-year-old Palestinian boy suffering from a brain condition died when Israeli border guards at the Erez crossing blocked his transfer to an Israeli hospital. He became the tenth Palestinian patient since August to die as a direct result of such obstruction. The Health Minister reported that half the kidney dialysis machines in Gaza were now out of order since Israel refuses to let spare parts enter Gaza. Hundreds of kidney patients face death.

A recent report by Save the Chidren documents that Israeli forces killed 38 Palestinian children between January and September 2007. Defence for Children International – Palestine Section counts 47 children dead with 30 of these killed in Gaza up to 5 November.

Bob Shepherd

FRFI 200 December 2007 / January 2008

 

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