For Immediate Release
Over One Million Palestinians in Gaza Facing Severe Deprivation
WASHINGTON - It is estimated that over one million Palestinians in Gaza are facing undernourishment and severe hardship from a shortage of basic necessities and supplies. The efforts of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides essential support to more than 750,000 Palestinians, have been stopped as Israel continues to block all humanitarian aid to the region. Fuel and medical supplies are also being prevented from reaching their destination in Gaza. Further supplies from the World Health Organization, the European Union, and other international relief agencies have been halted.
Karen Koning AbuZayd, Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency, called the situation "a catastrophe if this persists", insisting that Israel's decision to block aid to reach the region by closing crossing points was having devastating results. On November 4, Israel broke a five-month ceasefire by sending its army into Gaza. Gazan militants responded with rocket salvos into Israel. Israel had also banned journalists and foreign diplomatic representatives from Gaza for a period.
Philip Luther, deputy director of Amnesty International's Middle East program, called Israel's actions "nothing short of collective punishment. Israel's tightening of its blockade has made an already dire humanitarian situation markedly worse." UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon himself issued a statement emphasizing that "measures which increase the hardship and suffering of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip are unacceptable and should cease immediately."
"It is unconscionable that the international community allows this politically imposed catastrophe to occur," asserted Wendy Phillips, VP of CJPME-Toronto. "Where is the outrage at the fact that over 1 million Gazans are made to suffer indefinitely in clear violation of international law, and in complete disregard of any moral standard?"
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) calls on the Canadian government to protest against this crippling siege. Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that "collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism" against an occupied population are prohibited. Similarly, the Hague Regulations (IV) reinforce the principle that "no general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, shall be inflicted upon the population on account of the acts of individuals for which they cannot be regarded as jointly and severally responsible."
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is a non-profit and secular organization bringing together men and women of all backgrounds who labour to see justice and peace take root again in the Middle East. Its mission is to empower decision-makers to view all sides with fairness and to promote the equitable and sustainable development of the region.