The Humanitarian Coordinator for the oPt, Maxwell Gaylard, yesterday described the Gaza blockade as “an assault on human dignity with serious humanitarian implications,” at the launch of the 2009 Consolidated Appeal. The blockade, which began in June 07 and has been compounded by the recent full closure, has caused the degradation of daily life for most Gazan civilians – half of them children. People’s lives are being increasingly reduced to a daily struggle of obtaining clean running water, fuel for cooking, and fresh foods to maintain their families. Lacking electricity and back-up fuel, most basic services and utilities are on the brink - having received only limited maintenance and spare parts, and no development investment in more than a year. With a poverty rate already standing at 76%, an unemployment rate of 45%, the 76% of the population already receiving assistance are looking more and more to the international community for help.
On 26 November, the Gaza crossings were opened allowing limited humanitarian assistance and some fuel supplies in. While this is a positive development, the amounts of supplies imported remain wholly insufficient to meet the basic needs of the population and restore any semblance of normal life. The level of imports since the closure of the crossings on 5 November, stands at an average of less than five truckloads a day, compared to 123 in October 08 and 475 in May 07, before the Hamas takeover. The unpredictability of these humanitarian deliveries is also making it difficult for organizations to run assistance programs.
On 26 November, following the temporary replacement of damaged batteries, with locally adapted car batteries, the Gaza Power Plant resumed operation. However, the electricity situation is still precarious as the replacement batteries could fail at any time and fuel supplies are sufficient for two days only. Power cuts, particularly in Gaza City, are expected to be reduced at least for the coming two days.
On 27 November, Israel allowed the entry of 18 tons of chlorine, used to disinfect drinking water. This quantity is sufficient for about eight days.