Israel’s blockade of the Gaza strip has now been active for five consecutive years. Imposed in June 2007, Israel believes that it prevents Hamas from gaining access to threatening military equipment.
The blockade was condemned by 43 aid organisations and seven UN organs on Thursday. A report released by the Unite Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) is critical not only of the humanitarian situation, but also the economic impasse caused by the harsh restrictions.
”Since 2009, the Israeli naval forces have prevented fishermen from accessing sea areas beyond three nautical miles from Gaza’s coast, where the main sardine shoals are found,” the report noted. ”This has severely undermined the livelihoods of 35,000 people.”
Gaza is one of the most densely populated regions in the world. With 34% of its workforce and more than half of its youth unemployed, its GDP per capita for 2011 was close to 17% below that of 2005.
As much as 90% of the water from the Gaza aquifer is unsafe for human consumption and 71,000 new housing units are needed to meet growing demands. Almost half of the population suffers from food insecurity and roughly 80% are aid recipients.
Filippo Grandi, the head of The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), also points out the mental consequences of the blockade, “because you can’t move if you if you are a man or a woman, and especially young women and men in Gaza.”
Gaza’s isolation has infused the need to build tunnels in order for Palestinians to access restricted goods. Since the inception of the blockade, 172 Palestinian civilians have died in the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt.
During this period, Israeli forces have killed nearly 2,300 Palestinians and injured some 7,700, while 37 Israelis have been lost and 380 wounded in attacks from Gaza.