Aid groups say world powers betrayed Gaza
December 22, 2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The international community betrayed the people of Gaza by failing to end an Israeli blockade stymieing reconstruction efforts following last winter’s war, 16 aid and human rights groups said in a report released Tuesday.
The report Failing Gaza: No rebuilding, No recovery, No more excuses, alleges that the world’s powers, particularly the European Union, failed to ensure that aid pledged to Gaza actually reached its intended recipients.
Since the end of the three week military offensive dubbed Operation Cast Lead in January, Israel has allowed only 41 truckloads of construction materials into the Gaza Strip, the groups reported. All of those materials were destined for NGOs implementing piecemeal reconstruction efforts, or repairs to the electricity and sewage networks.
The groups sponsoring the report included Amnesty International, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Medical Aid for Palestinians, Mercy Corps and Oxfam International.
The report said thousands of truckloads of reconstruction materials are needed to rebuild the tens of thousands of homes, businesses, schools, mosques and other buildings destroyed and damaged during the war. As a result, thousands of Gaza residents are still living in tents, and the Strip’s economy remains in ruins.
“The wretched reality endured by 1.5 million people in Gaza should appall anybody with an ounce of humanity. Sick, traumatized and impoverished people are being collectively punished by a cruel, illegal policy imposed by the Israeli authorities,” Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said in a statement.
“Israel’s responsibility to protect its citizens does not give it the right to punish every man, woman and child of Gaza.”
She also said the world has an obligation to act to end the blockade: “All states are obliged under international law to intervene to put an end to this brutal blockade but their leaders are failing in this fundamental measure of their own humanity.” [...]
The report notes that as the occupying power, Israel is responsible to safeguard the welfare of the population in Gaza. Absent funds from Israel, the international community offered to rebuild Gaza after the recent war.
International donors pledged four billion US dollars to rebuild Gaza at a conference in the Egyptian Red Sea resort town of Sharm Ash-Sheikh in March. Because of the ban on construction materials, virtually none of the aid has materialized. The EU accounted for 1 billion dollars of this figure.
The report faults the EU for failing to seek compensation from Israel for the destruction of facilities relating EU-funded projects in Gaza. The UN charged Israel 11.4 million for damages to its facilities.