A large, international coalition of human rights groups released a report (embedded above) yesterday examining the ongoing and illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip and whether anything has changed post-“Freedom Flotilla.” The answer is that not much has changed.
In the aftermath of Israel’s illegal attack on the Gaza-bound “Freedom Flotilla,” international attention was focused on the situation in Gaza. In early July, responding to international pressure, the Israeli government announced an “easing” of the blockade. The “easing” measures included promises of the allowance of more consumer products into Gaza and allowing the entry of construction materials for projects approved by the Palestinian Authority (which has no power in Gaza). This new report has a handy chart looking at the promises made post-flotilla and how they match up to reality.
The report indicates that Gaza remains in dire straits, with an economy strangled to death, a lack of construction materials to build homes and schools that were destroyed by the 2008-09 Israeli assault, and a population “locked in” with no way to freely enter and exit the Gaza Strip as they please.
The human rights coalition concludes the publication with an urgent call to the international community:
The international community must do its part to ensure that its repeated appeals to end the blockade are finally heeded.
1) Launch a new, concerted diplomatic initiative for an immediate, unconditional and complete lifting of the blockade, including:
• allowing movement of people including humanitarian staff into and out of Gaza;
• allowing exports from Gaza;
• allowing entry of construction materials including those for the private sector;
• allowing entry of raw materials;
• expanding operations of the crossings;
• lifting restrictions on fuel imports;
• ensuring access to Gaza’s agricultural land and fishing grounds and the protection of civilians in these areas.
2) Convene a meeting of the UN Security Council to review the implementation of Resolution 1860 which emphasises “the need to ensure sustained and regular flow of goods and people through the Gaza crossings” and calls for “tangible steps towards intra-Palestinian reconciliation.” Further action necessary for its implementation should be considered.
3) Plan a visit to Gaza as part of every high-level visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
4) State explicitly that the ongoing blockade is illegal under international law.
5) Support genuine investigations into, and accountability for, violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law committed by all parties, including the Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups as a way to prevent future violations.