The Siege of Gaza

  • 11 December 2007

 A report prepared by the Institute of Development Studies raises alarm over the unprecedented blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, a blockade that has caused a severe economic crisis in the territory. Unemployment figures have shown an exponential increase; rising from 26.4% in the second quarter of 2007 to 32.9% in its third quarter—as per the criteria set by the International Labor Organization (ILO)—and to 37% on the basis of a definition that includes people desperately looking for a job among the unemployed.

The study reveals that more than 70% of the Palestinian families in Gaza lie below the poverty line, of which 42% are facing extreme poverty. Undoubtedly, the economic crisis facing Gaza has worsened following its takeover by Hamas last June. Palestinians have suffered from the internecine conflict between Fatah and Hamas, and Israel has exploited it to the hilt. Tel Aviv has tightened its blockade on the Gaza Strip after Hamas took control of it, and after its decision on September 19 that branded Hamas an enemy of Israel that has led to further intensification of the blockade. The occupying Israeli authorities prohibit the import of any product from the Gaza Strip. In the light of the growing feud between Fatah and Hamas, it is feared that the economic crisis, faced by the Palestinians, would further worsen. The chances of dialogue between the movements are remote, despite constant Arab parleys and news that both parties are preparing themselves for an imminent dialogue.

Such a catastrophic situation in Gaza necessitates Fatah and Hamas to resolve their differences and to start national dialogue to alleviate this catastrophe. In this context, the Palestinian government in the Gaza Strip should repeal the punitive measures it has imposed on the Palestinian people in Gaza, such as stopping the payment of salaries to thousands of employees in the territory, because such measures—in addition to the Israeli blockade —worsen the economic situation in the territory. In spite of this, Hamas and Fatah movements bear equal responsibility for the dire situation in Gaza, which is in addition to the debilitating Israeli actions against Hamas. The catastrophic situation in Gaza necessitates all international organizations, non-government organizations, and relevant international powers to take immediate steps for ending this human crisis in the Gaza Strip.