12 August 2008
"The Israeli siege has turned Gaza into a big prison. We cannot leave, not even for medical care or to study abroad, and most of what we need is not available in Gaza. We are not living really; we are barely surviving and the outlook for the future is bleak." – Fathi, a Gaza resident
The blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip over a year ago has left the entire population of 1.5 million Palestinians trapped with dwindling resources and an economy in ruins. Some 80 per cent of the population now depend on the trickle of international aid that the Israeli army allows in. This humanitarian crisis is man-made and entirely avoidable.
Even patients in dire need of medical treatment not available in Gaza are often prevented from leaving and scores of them have died. Students who have scholarships in universities abroad are likewise trapped in Gaza, denied the opportunity to build a future.
The Israeli authorities argue that the blockade on Gaza is in response to Palestinian attacks, especially the indiscriminate rockets fired from Gaza at the nearby Israeli town of Sderot. These and other Palestinian attacks killed 25 Israelis in the first half of this year; in the same period Israeli forces killed 400 Palestinians.