Gaza Waits for Justice: One Year Later, Calls for Remembrance and Action
Since Israel's 51-day military assault, rebuilding has barely begun and the ongoing siege pushes the Strip closer to humanitarian crisis
One year after Israel launched a military assault on Gaza that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians in just 51 days, people from within the Strip and around the world are calling on the international community to honor the dead and demand justice for the living—who are struggling to rebuild amid an ongoing siege and humanitarian crisis.
"The international community's support to the people of Gaza is close to nonexistent, unfortunately," Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer told Democracy Now! on Wednesday from Gaza City. "People are still struggling to get back to—to pick their lives up from the beginning. Shejaiya, where I was just yesterday talking to people, they are still living in ruins. Some people are still living in prefabricated houses, and nothing has changed on the ground, really. The wound is still here."
"Gaza remains under siege as Israel implements against it a policy described by Israeli historian Ilan Pappe as 'incremental genocide,'" wrote the Palestinian BDS National Committee, comprised of 27 Palestinian organizations, in a statement released this week. "Israel’s often deadly attacks on Palestinians continue. Most of the water has been contaminated and deemed unfit for human consumption, food and basic supplies remain scarce, and as Palestinian organizations have noted, Gaza is approaching an irreversible breaking point."
Many from within Gaza took to social media on Wednesday to call on the world to acknowledge the humanity of the people impacted by the war. The project We are Not Numbers, sponsored by Euro-Med, can be followed on Twitter below.
On Dublin's Sandymount Strand, a Wednesday art installation entitled "No More" honors the at least 551 Palestinian children killed during the war:
— صايل (@Pxlestine) July 8, 2015
The U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation on Wednesday urged people in the United States to take action by calling on their government to "hold Israel accountable for its use of U.S. weapons to kill Palestinian children and wantonly destroy Palestinian homes." And Tuesday, people in the United Kingdom and Australia marked the one-year anniversary of the invasion by shutting down four drone factories owned by Israeli arms company Elbit Systems.
In a statement released Wednesday, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) accused the world of "neglecting the needs and rights of the people of Gaza," arguing that the humanitarian crisis persists because "the root causes of the conflict remain unaddressed."
"Resolute political action is required on a number of fronts to achieve the necessary change of paradigm in the Strip, starting with a lifting of the blockade, ensuring rights and security for all, allowing increased exports from Gaza to stimulate economic recovery, and freedom of movement for civilians," declared UNRWA.
In addition, groups including the Palestinian BDS National Committee and the U.S.-based Jewish Voice for Peace argued this week that the ongoing injustice against the people of Gaza underscores the importance, right now, of international pressure, including through the global campaign of Boycott, Divestment from, and Sanction of Israel.
As the vast majority of those lost were civilians—551 of them children—the war took more than Palestinian lives. In addition to the more than 10,000 people wounded, an estimated 300,000 young people in Gaza are in need of psychosocial support due to the trauma they have sustained as the result of the war and blockade. The invasion also wrecked civilian infrastructure, leaving at least 120,000 people homeless, hospitals and clinics destroyed, and at least 20 schools and kindergartens reduced to rubble.
One year later, not a single one of the 12,000 completely destroyed homes has been rebuilt, and according to an Oxfam statement released Wednesday, "the slow rate of reconstruction means that many of today's teenagers in Gaza will be elderly parents by the time it is completed, with the latest estimates suggesting it will take more than 70 years to build the homes Gaza needs."
The wounds of war have been exacerbated by the ongoing Israeli blockade by land, sea, and air, which has escalated since 2007 with the political and financial backing of the United States and participation of Egypt. Gaza's economy has screeched to a grinding halt, with unemployment skyrocketing to 67.9 percent for people under the age of 24. Meanwhile, gasoline, electricity, and water are running dangerously low.
Reflections on the one-year anniversary can be followed on Twitter: