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Blockade must end now

22nd Nov 2012

Martin Hartberg, Oxfam Policy Officer in Jerusalem said:

"This ceasefire must hold. The violence over the last few weeks has been devastating for people in Gaza and Israel. Hundreds of lives have been lost and houses, schools and kindergartens lay in ruins. People need some chance of living normal lives again.  Schools in Gaza and southern Israel have been closed for over a week and ordinary ways of earning a living in Gaza - such as fishing and farming - have been far too dangerous to attempt.  

"But we need more than a ceasefire.  We cannot return to business as usual. For five years, Gaza has been subject to a crippling blockade, which has restricted what it can import and export and destroyed its economy. Since the blockade started, a third of Gaza's businesses have closed and 80 percent of its population now needs aid to get by.

"The blockade has also meant that the UN and aid agencies have struggled to re-build homes and water networks destroyed in Cast Lead because of restrictions on importing cement. This means that at times sewage has flooded Gaza's streets.  

"The international community needs to be courageous. Only by lifting the blockade, do we have any chance of ending the incessant cycle of violence that has devastated millions of lives. The international community's two-state solution will be impossible to achieve while the blockade continues and Palestinians remain divided between Gaza and the West Bank."