In the name of the "humanitarian sense of all," Israel and Egypt must lift border restrictions on the Gaza Strip, said outgoing head of the United Nations Relief and Works Organization (UNRWA) Filippo Grandi on Tuesday.
While Egypt and Israel often site "security concerns" in reference to the strict trade blockade on Gaza's borders, Grandi said, "the world should not forget about the security of the people of Gaza. Their security is worth the same as everybody else's security so we appeal to the humanitarian sense of all."
As both import and export out of the occupied territory are tightly restricted, goods coming in through the single commercial border crossing with Israel meet only 35 to 50 percent of Gazans' needs, as Reuters reports.
The import blockade is "illegal and must be lifted," said Grandi, adding, "I also want to make a strong appeal for export to resume because the lack of export is the main reason for the poverty of Gaza."
In earlier comments, Grandi said the Israeli blockade has made life "uninhabitable" for the 1.8 million Palestinians there.
Similarly, Richard Falk, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories said last month that Israel's "systematic oppression" of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza appears to constitute the "inhuman" and "degrading" practice of "apartheid."
"Through prolonged occupation, with practices and policies which appear to constitute apartheid and segregation, ongoing expansion of settlements, and continual construction of the wall arguably amounting to de facto annexation of parts of the occupied Palestinian territory, the denial by Israel of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people is evident," said Falk in his final report after six years in the position.