, Newburyport, MA

November 28, 2012

Israeli blockade part of the Gaza problem

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the Editor:

The following is an analysis of the Gaza situation that came to me from Gloucester resident Susan Nicholson. I feel it is important information and would like to share it with Daily News readers.

Let’s keep in mind that there is a context for the rockets coming from Gaza — namely, the Israeli blockade. The question we should all be asking is how there can be any long-term solution to the violence on both sides without an end to the blockade, some elements of which I have listed below.

Israel has put 85 percent of Gaza’s fishing grounds off-limits. In the Oslo Accords, Israel agreed to allow Palestinians living in Gaza to fish 20 nautical miles from the Gaza coastline. Since 2009, Israeli naval forces have prevented fishermen from going out farther than 3 miles. Those who attempt to go farther are shot at by Israeli forces and are subject to confiscation of their vessels and gear. Source: UNOCHA Fact Sheet, “Five Years of Blockade: The Humanitarian Situation in the Gaza Strip, June 2012”; UNOCHA, “Gaza Strip: Areas Restricted for Palestinian Access,” July 2012.

Israel has put approximately 35 percent of Gaza’s farmland off-limits. The Israeli army has established a “no go” zone up to 1,500 meters inside Gaza where Palestinians cannot go for fear of being fired upon by Israeli forces. This zone happens to contain approximately 35 percent of Gaza’s productive farmland. Source: UNOCHA Fact Sheet above.

What goods Gaza does manage to produce despite Israeli restrictions, Gaza is prevented by Israel from exporting. In 2011 Israel allowed only one truckload of goods per day to exit Gaza, which is less than 3 percent of the average amount of exports before Israel imposed the blockade. Source: UNOCHA Fact Sheet above.

Israel prohibits Palestinian students living in Gaza from studying at their own Palestinian universities in the occupied West Bank. This Israeli prohibition, imposed since 2000, applies even if Palestinian students enter the West Bank not via Israel but via Jordan. Source: Israeli NGO Gisha –Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, “Student Travel between Gaza and the West Bank 101,” September 2012.

Over 90 percent of the drinking water from the Gaza aquifer is unsafe. This situation results, in part, from Israeli restrictions on goods entering Gaza, including the fuel needed to operate water and wastewater facilities, and the building materials needed to repair these facilities. Source: UNOCHA Fact Sheet above; “The Humanitarian Impact of Gaza’s Electricity and Fuel Crisis,” OCHA Fact Sheet March 2012.

According to the UNOCHA Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief coordinator, Israel’s blockade of Gaza has had a “devastating impact on the lives and livelihood” of Palestinians residents and “amounts to a collective punishment of all those living in Gaza.” Source: UNOCHA “Statement on Gaza, Occupied Palestinian Territory,” June 13, 2012.

According to the UN, without herculean action and a lifting of Israel’s blockade Gaza will be unliveable by 2020. Source: “Gaza in 2020: A liveable place?,” Report by the United Nations Country Team in the occupied Palestinian territory, August 2012.

Diana Philip