PARIS (AFP) -- Some 35 aid groups from around the world, including ActionAid and Oxfam, launched a joint call Wednesday to end Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, which is in dire need of reconstruction.
Last summer's devastating war in Gaza caused mass casualties, killing 2,251 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including more than 500 children. Seventy-three people were killed on the Israeli side, including 67 soldiers.
"For a whole year the Israeli government has restricted basic and essential construction materials from entering Gaza," said a statement signed by the NGOs and posted on the site of activist group Avaaz.
"Not one of the 19,000 homes that were bombed and destroyed has been fully rebuilt.
"One year on, around 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza are still homeless, hospitals and schools still lie in ruins, and whole neighborhoods have no access to running water."
Over 35,000 meters of water and sewage pipelines were damaged or destroyed during the war and 120,000 Gazans have no access to the water network.
At least 11 schools and universities were totally destroyed, with 253 severely damaged. Over 81 hospitals and clinics were also damaged or destroyed.
“With sewage spewing onto pavements, electricity and water supplies still severely limited and schools that look more like bomb-sites than places children get an education, hope is dwindling and Gaza’s future looks bleak,"William Bell, Christian Aid's Policy and Advocacy Officer for Israel/Palestine said.
Israel imposed its blockade on Gaza in 2006 after Hamas captured an Israeli soldier, and tightened it a year later when Hamas won Palestinian elections. more