'Gaza blockade is collective punishment'

Amnesty slams Israel as Defense Ministry cites 28% rise in humanitarian goods entering Strip in 2009.

January 18, 2010 07:46
1 minute read.
'Gaza blockade is collective punishment'

gaza woman 298. (photo credit: AP)

's blockade of the Gaza Strip constitutes collective punishment against its civilian population, Amnesty International claimed in a report released for publication Monday to mark the one year anniversary of the end of Operation Cast Lead in the coastal territory.

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In the report, Amnesty calls on to immediately lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip. The report, entitled "Suffocating: The Gaza Strip Under Israeli Blockade," contains testimony from residents of the Strip, who say the blockade has prevented them from putting their lives back together after the offensive.

The report also criticizes for delaying travel permits for Gazans seeking medical treatment outside of the Strip, and says that such delays have exacted a humanitarian toll on Gazans. The report also says that the blockade is largely responsible for the 40 percent unemployment rate in .

The release of the report comes only days after the Defense Ministry presented figures showing improvements in 's humanitarian situation, noting that even during Cast Lead some 1,400 trucks carrying supplies were allowed to enter.

The Defense Ministry cited an overall 28% rise in humanitarian goods entering the Gaza Strip in 2009 over the previous year, and an increase of 125% in the number of foreign nationals allowed entry to the Strip.

The findings were presented at a conference held last Thursday by the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration, which brought together representatives from major international organizations operating in .

When contacted by The Jerusalem Post Sunday, Amnesty did not deny the figures
presented by the Defense Ministry. Instead, it cited a report they released last month that stated that since the end of Cast Lead, only 41 truckloads of construction materials have been let in.

That report, "Failing Gaza: No rebuilding, no recovery, no more excuses," claimed that the paucity of building supplies allowed into the coastal territory have helped prolong a humanitarian crisis by stifling Gazans' ability to rebuild their homes and infrastructure. It also stated that fuel shortages, along with the lack of building materials, have led to breakdowns in power supplies and in turn greater contamination of the water supply, further endangering the population.

The IDF had not seen the report by press time and could not issue a response.

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