Averting a Dangerous Humanitarian Disaster in Gaza

  • 20 June 2006

The General Commissioner for the “United Nations Work and Relief Agency for the Palestinian Refugees” (UNRWA) pointed recently to a very dangerous and important aspect in the sequence of events resulting from the confrontation between Hamas and Fateh movements in Gaza.  It called on the international community not to isolate the Gaza strip,  indicating that this closure, after the control of Hamas, will increase the human suffering of its population who are already severely afflicted by problems of poverty and unemployment, reaching the rate of fifty percent.

Gaza is populated by around a million and a half Palestinians living on a very small area of land, making its density rate one of the highest in the world and representing half of the Palestinian population in the territories. Since the control of Hamas on the Gaza strip, fears are increasing among the population of a long-term siege against the movement, but its negative consequences will affect them primarily, as is common in cases of economic sanctions everywhere as proven by previous experiences; where governments are targeted but the people are the ones who primarily bear the consequences. No doubt that Gaza is on the threshold of a serious  human crisis that could rise to the level of a catastrophe if the economic and trade actions begin to increase. The United Nations even has indicated that the essential food supplies could start to disappear from stores within weeks, and for that reason it is important to take the suffering of the people in Gaza seriously into consideration by the parties concerned in this matter. Increasing this suffering will not only lead to a serious human crisis but to a state of despair that could lead to an explosion and consequently  increase the volatility of  a region with extremely dense population and already suffering economically and socially in a manner that will thrust the population into the quagmire of chaos, violence and extremism.

Israel has exploited the international rejection of Hamas and its actions in the Gaza strip to practice a policy of strangulation and siege on the strip and its population, either by cutting electrical supply, stopping the cargo shipments, threatening continuously of a military assault under the pretext of hunting down Hamas elements and eliminating them, or preventing the missile launching from Gaza on its territories. Israel never cared for the suffering of the Palestinian people and it will never be deterred from increasing this suffering and widening its scope in Gaza or elsewhere however, it must be prevented from exploiting this situation in order to execute its wide range aggressive plan on Gaza to punish its inhabitants en masse, a measure Israel excels at. No doubt that the confrontation between Hamas and Fateh movement has contributed greatly in having Gaza reach this critical and difficult stage, but this cannot be taken as a pretext to leave a million and half Palestinians to face hunger or to punish Gaza because it is the stronghold of Hamas.