Sunday, 8 July 2012

Oxfam: Five years of blockade shatters Gaza’s once thriving economy

Five years since the start of the government of Israel's blockade of Gaza, imposed on security grounds, its once thriving economy is in ruins, with 30 percent of businesses closed and 80 percent of people recipients of humanitarian aid, says international aid agency Oxfam and Palestinian export development body, Palestine Trade Center- PalTrade.

Oxfam's International Director Jeremy Hobbs, said:

"There is no natural reason for Gaza to be in the humanitarian situation it is in now– a look at Gaza before the blockade shows clearly the entrepreneurial, resourceful character of Palestinians who worked with their Israeli counterparts to export their products to the rest of the world. Compared to five years ago, Gaza is an industrial wasteland. Oxfam condemns violence targeting civilians on both sides, and we condemn this blockade that primarily harms civilians. The crossings can be equipped with the technology necessary to address Israel's legitimate security concerns while allowing for the free flow of people and goods. In order to create the environment necessary for a just, durable peace, all parties must respect their obligations under international law."

Citing security concerns, the government of Israel imposed a blockade on all border crossings in and out of the Gaza Strip following the Hamas takeover in June 2007. The current blockade amounts to illegal collective punishment because the whole of Gaza's civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility. Over the past five years, the near ban on traditional export products, such as textiles, furniture, and processed foods, coupled with limitations on the import of raw materials needed for production, has had a devastating impact, with the annual level of exports in 2011 plummeting to less than 3 percent of pre-blockade levels.

Gaza's traditional exports to the Israeli market and Palestinian internal trade with the West Bank remain effectively closed. more

Settlers and soldiers attack village near Nablus, injuring five

(Soldiers blocking the road to Yanoun - ISM photo)

On Saturday 7 July, 2012, the village of Yanoun, located 12km southeast of Nablus, was attacked by illegal settlers from the illegal Itamar settlement. Five Palestinians were injured in the attack and large sections of agricultural land were set ablaze.

The attack began at roughly 2pm. The illegal settlers descended on the village and began setting fire to sections of land and firing on sheep while they were grazing. In the course of the attack on Yanoun, 5 resident of Aqraba, (the neighbouring village) were injured to varying degrees. Two men, Ibrahim Hamid Ibrahim, and Adwan Rajih bini Naber were beaten by settlers, and another, Joudat Hamid Ibrahim was stabbed in the shoulder after being beaten as well. When the Israeli Forces arrived, they joined in the attacks, injuring two more. Hakimun Ahmed Yusuf Bini Jaber, 42, was shot in the arm with live ammunition by an Israeli soldier and Ashraf Adel Hamid Ibrahim, 29, was shot in the back with a tear gas canister when the soldiers attempted to scatter villagers who were to aid the injured.

The villagers who were aiding the injured attempted to carry the injured men to ambulances, but Israeli soldiers blocked the roads and refused to let them through. The Israeli military and illegal settlers also stopped residents from putting out the fires. The first ambulance to leave was reportedly stopped at Huwwara checkpoint en route to a hospital in Nablus. Two of the injured men were taken from the ambulance and held in Israeli custody for an undetermined period of time. The second and third ambulance were not allowed to depart with those wounded for two hours. more