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Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
13 December 2007
Since June 2007, in response to the Hamas take over of the Gaza Strip and the on-going and indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel, the Government of Israel (GoI) has increased restrictions on access of goods and people to and from Gaza. These have severe consequences for the day-to-day life of the 1.48 million Gazans.
More Gazans than ever need food and direct assistance
Fuel shortages have threatened essential services and water supply
Life-saving treatments are not available in Gaza’s hospitals
17 per cent of patients with referrals were refused exit for treatment in Israel, East Jerusalem or overseas
The on-going isolation of Gaza threatens the local economy
Baby milk, medicines, and cooking oil are increasingly scarce
Hundreds of businesses have gone bankrupt due to ban on imports/exports
Thousands of labourers have lost their jobs due to the collapse of the building industry
Building projects worth US$370 million are on hold indefinitely
The isolation of the Gaza Strip has lasted six months, leaving the local economy to possibly face irrevocable damage and the population in Gaza more reliant on aid than ever before. If the closures are not eased, the UN predicts the need for food and direct assistance will sharply rise above and beyond the current level of 80 per cent of the population.
Tight controls are imposed on all Palestinian access in and out of the Gaza Strip, including those with permission to seek essential medical treatment in Israel, East Jerusalem or overseas.
Severe shortages and restrictions on imports and exports are already beginning to distort markets in the Gaza Strip, putting anything other than the most basic goods and foods beyond the buying power of a large portion of the population. Low stock levels, rising prices, increased joblessness and loss of incomes are having devastating consequences for the population and local economy and the livelihoods of the people of Gaza.
All sections of the population have been affected by a reduction in fuel supplies which undermines the delivery of essential services. The current strain will be exacerbated if the GoI fully implements its decision to further reduce fuel imports and restrict Gaza’s electricity supplies.
Tight restrictions on the movement of goods and people have been imposed by the GoI since mid-June 2007, following a period of intense factional fighting which led to the takeover of the Gaza Strip by Hamas and the breakdown of coordination arrangements which had been in place at key crossing points. On 28 October 2007, economic sanctions were implemented by the GoI in response to the continued firing of Qassam rockets and mortars by Palestinian militants into Israel. Between 1 January and 30 November 2007, 1204 Qassam rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, resulting in 96 Israeli injuries and two Israeli deaths.
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