Gaza: A Humanitarian Implosion


VOICE OF CARLO BASILONE: A coalition of eight UK-based human rights organizations released a scathing report on conditions in the Gaza Strip on Thursday.


London, UK
March 6, 2008

DAVID MEPHAN, POLICY DIRECTOR, SAVE THE CHILDREN: The judgment of the various humanitarian, human rights, and development organizations like Save the Children that have been involved in putting this report together is that the humanitarian situation on the ground in Gaza today is the worst that it’s been for forty years.

Gaza City, Gaza Strip
March 6, 2008

JOHN JING, HEAD OF UN RELIEF AND WORKS AGENCY: Eighty percent of the people here are depending on handouts of food from the United Nations. They’ve no other way to survive unless they get these handouts of food, because the economy has completely collapsed. And they’ve been stripped of their dignity, so they’re left in a most miserable and desperate situation. And this report gives clear evidence of just how bad the situation is.


VOICE OF MICHAEL BAILEY, ADVOCACY AND MEDIA MANAGER, OXFAM: The primary public health concerns are that if you have any disease that can’t be treated in Gaza, you’re unlikely to be able to go out of Gaza to get your life-saving treatment. They have to fight to get a permit from the Israeli authorities. And we know that in the last three months of last year, 20 of them lost that fight and died, simply because they couldn’t get out of Gaza. If you require x-raying, if you require CT scanning, if you require other complex imaging, it’s unlikely that you will be able to get that in Gaza because it’s very difficult to maintain old equipment when spare parts aren’t let in, technicians aren’t allowed in, and the service has generally fallen apart.

BASILONE: The report, sponsored by Amnesty International, OXFAM, CARE International UK, Save the Children UK, and four others adds that it considers Israel’s blockade of Gaza unacceptable and illegal, and uses the term “collective punishment” to describe the situation.

BAILEY: It’s a strong term for a serious crime against humanity when 1.5 million people are being punished for something over which they have no control. It’s the correct term to use when collectively people are being punished for something they haven’t done, and which in fact they have very little influence over. I think it’s very difficult for the general public in Jerusalem or elsewhere in Israel to be entirely clear about what’s happening in Gaza. The news that’s available to them tends to concentrate on the deplorable rockets that are fired from militants in Gaza into Israel. They tend to hear about the Israeli military incursions into Gaza. They hear very little about the daily life of people in Gaza. And indeed many people in Israel know nothing about the daily life of people in the West Bank, or even in East Jerusalem, which is the Arab part of Jerusalem, because, for most people, they don’t travel out of Israel into the Arab areas.


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