Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza – Emergency Vigil in Sydney

8 Mar

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The Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine (CJPP) held an emergency vigil in the evenings at Sydney Town Hall on 7 March. One of the speakers is Greens Senator Kerry Nettle who revealed how the Rudd government has been silent on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Concurrently, a group of Women in Black (well-known for being dressed in black and their anti-war efforts) were standing on the steps of Town Hall and silently holding placards reflecting the theme of the rally, ‘Free Gaza, Stop the Killing, End the Siege’.

This vigil was timed to highlight the out of control situation in Palestine. A group of NGOs including Oxfam and Amnesty International voiced similar sentiments by launching an inter-agency report entitled, ‘The Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion’ to reflect the growing adversity of livelihood in Gaza.

In its executive summary, the organisations stated that, ‘The situation for 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is worse now than it has ever been since the start of the Israeli military occupation in 1967. The current situation in Gaza is man-made, completely avoidable and, with the necessary political will, can also be reversed.’

It went on to highlight the state of affairs by giving a ground report of Gaza with supporting statistics from reputable international organisations.

Citing from the World Bank, it claims that, ‘The Gaza economy is no longer on the brink of collapse – it has collapsed. In the last 6 months, the majority of private businesses have shut down and 95% of Gaza’s industrial operations are suspended due to the ban on imported raw materials and the block on exports.’

Other contributing factors to the crisis as reported include impediments towards humanitarian access (such as rising food prices and reduction of trucks carrying humanitarian supplies) to increasing unemployment and denial of access to basic medical supplies and treatments.

The organisations uniequivocally agreed that Israel is responsible for the degeneration of quality of life in Gaza. It argued (p6, Introduction) that, “The contention by Israeli officials that Israel is no longer bound by the laws of occupation since it redeployed its forces to the perimeter of the Gaza Strip in 2005 is a fallacy. Israel retains effective control of the Gaza Strip, by virtue of the full control it exercises over the Gaza Strip’s land border, its air space and territorial waters, and the movement of people and goods. Hence, the Israeli authorities are bound by their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law to ensure the welfare of the Palestinian population in the OPT.”

Amongst its recommendations, it urged the UK government and EU to strongly condemn the Israeli government on its use of collective punishment strategies and demands emergency assistance services be immediately made available to the people of Gaza. The report also urged the UK and EU to drop its policy of non-engagement with certain political faction (in this case, Hamas). This is a view that is shared and supported by the majority of Israelis. In a recent poll by Dialog company and carried by AP, ’64 percent of Israelis believe Israel should talk to Hamas now to bring a halt to ongoing rocket barrages fired by Gaza militants at Israeli towns and to win the release of a captured soldier.’

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Links and References:

1. Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine

2. The Gaza Strip, A Humanitarian Implosion, report in pdf from Relief Web

2. Poll: Israelis want talks with Hamas, The Associated Press, 27 February 2008

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One Response to “Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza – Emergency Vigil in Sydney”

  1. Gaza Economy Collapse March 13, 2008 at 1:05 am #

    The Gazan economy is shot and its people are dependent on handouts. The blockade is causing so much destruction. Its a sad time.

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