As the blockade of Gaza—widely denounced as "collective punishment"—marks its ninth anniversary this month, Oxfam is urging the global community to apply pressure on Israel to allow the territory's residents to exercise their most fundamental human rights.
Israel imposed the blockade in 2007 when Hamas gained control of the territory, and is, according to a panel of experts reporting to the UN Human Rights Council, in "flagrant contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law."
And, according to the international aid group's Country Director Chris Eijkemans, it "is making a dire situation worse."
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That's because of the widespread devastation following Israel's bombing campaign on Gaza two years ago. As the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) states,
The scale of human loss and destruction in Gaza during the 2014 conflict was catastrophic and has, in the words of the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “shocked and shamed the world.” During the 50 days from 8 July until 26 August 2014, 2,251 Palestinians were killed, 1,462 of them are believed to be civilians, including 551 children and 299 women. Sixty-six Israeli soldiers and five civilians, including one child, were also killed. Overall, 11,231 Palestinians were injured during the conflict, including 3,540 women and 3,436 children. Roughly one third of these children will have to cope with permanent disabilities for the rest of their lives as a result of their injuries.
"Gaza has not recovered from the 2014 war," Eijkemans adds. "75,000 people still can’t return home. Less than 10 percent of destroyed homes have been completely rebuilt and 80 percent of the population rely on international humanitarian aid to survive. The blockade must end before Gaza plunges further into humanitarian disaster," he stated.