UN: Israel Behind Alarming Situation in Gaza, 60,000 Palestinians at Risk in Jerusalem
The United Nations blames Israel for the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, calling on Tel Aviv to end the fatal blockade.
Describing the conditions in the impoverished Gaza as alarming, UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Robert Serry, said Thursday that the deadly Israeli blockade on the costal enclave has crippled normal life, with tens of thousands of Gazans still living in unacceptable circumstances months after the Israeli attack.
“Fulfilling the humanitarian needs and beginning early recovery is impossible without the adequate entry of fuel, cash, and materials needed for the repairs of damaged or destroyed homes, schools, clinics, and other urgent infrastructure repairs,” Serry said, calling on Israeli officials to end the fatal siege.
Earlier on Thursday, the UN had announced that none of the USD 4.5 billion package of reconstruction aid pledged in March has reached Gaza because of border restrictions.
The Israeli-imposed blockade has triggered a steady deterioration of health conditions in the coastal territory. It has also blocked necessary humanitarian aid and assistance from reaching the 1.5 million people trapped inside the Strip. They face chronic shortages of vital medicines and hospital facilities that rely on electricity largely due to the lack of fuel for power generators.
Tel Aviv has so far resisted international calls for lifting the 21-month blockade which was imposed after Hamas — the democratically-elected government of Gaza — took control of the Strip.
Israel began a war on Gaza on December 27. Three weeks of ensuing airstrikes and a ground incursion inflicted more than $1.6 billion in damages on the Gazan economy.
The carnage left around 1,400 Palestinians dead and nearly 5,450 others injured. The casualties were mostly civilian.
Israeli fighter jets strike tunnels across the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt to further tighten the noose of hunger around the blockaded enclave.
The air strike on the first of day of the new month came as the international community’s silence drowns out its calls on Tel Aviv to lift the almost two-year siege on Gaza.
Meanwhile, Palestinians resort to launching home-made rockets on the southern Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Prior to Israel’s Friday blitz on the tunnels in the border city of Rafah, Palestinian fighters fired two rockets at Israeli towns, Israeli military officials said.
Many of the tunnels, considered to be the Gaza Strip’s feeding tubes since they are used to sneak food and fuel into the impoverished sliver, were devastated during three weeks of non-stop Israeli attack in December and January which left an estimated 1,434 Palestinians — including 960 civilians – killed, according to the UN.
The Israeli blockade has been in place since June 2007, when the Islamic Hamas movement had to take control of the densely-populated territory against rival Fatah’s move to topple its democratically-elected government.
On Thursday, The United Nations’ special envoy to the Middle East described the situation in the impoverished coastal strip as ‘alarming’.
The UN Relief and Works Agency has also warned that many patients have died and many others are in dire need of medication due to the Israeli blockade.
A report published Friday by a United Nations agency has warned that the problems facing the people of Silwan, who are facing eviction from their homes, are replicated throughout East Jerusalem.
At least 60,000 out of the estimated 225,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem are at risk of having their homes obliterated because they have been deemed illegal by Israeli officialdom, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stated.
Some 90 Palestinian buildings were demolished in 2008 alone, uprooting about 400 people.
All this destruction is being wrought as part of a systematic policy of ensuring that the entire city of Jerusalem falls into Israeli hands, even though a raft of UN resolutions have insisted there is no legal validity to building settlements in East Jerusalem. To date one-third of East Jerusalem has been expropriated by Israel and almost 200,000 settlers housed. >>>