Israel to NGOs: Blame Hamas for Gaza crisis

Report by 8 British rights organizations claims situation worst since '67.

IDF n. Gaza fab 224.88 (photo credit: IDF )
IDF n. Gaza fab 224.88
(photo credit: IDF )
Israel on Thursday rejected a report published by eight British humanitarian and human rights organizations which charged that the situation in Gaza was worse than it had ever been since 1967 and that Israel was responsible for it. International NGOs "fail to face the reality and sequence of events leading to the deteriorating situation in the southern regions of Israel as well as the Gaza Strip," the Foreign Ministry said in a prepared statement. "If only the Palestinians chose to cease their pointless and indiscriminate firing of rockets and missiles against hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians, the entire region would return to a normal routine in which Palestinians and Israelis could once again enjoy their daily lives. As stated to these organizations time and time again by the Israeli government, they should point their criticism towards the Hamas terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip and not against the State of Israel." According to the report, filed by British NGOs including Amnesty International, Oxfam, Christian Aid, Save the Children, Care and Trocaire, "the situation for 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is worse now than it has ever been since the start of the Israeli military occupation in 1967. The severity of the situation has increased exponentially since Israel imposed extreme restrictions on the movement of goods and people in response to the Hamas takeover of Gaza and indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israel." The organizations wrote that more than 80 percent of the Gaza population is dependent on humanitarian assistance, compared with 63% in 2006. Today, over 1.1 million people, almost 75% of the population, are dependent on UNRWA food aid. The World Food Program has reported that the mean household monthly income dropped by 22% between June and September 2007. The number of households in Gaza earning less than $1.20 per day increased from 55% to 70% over the same period, while the National Deep Poverty Line is pegged at $2.30 per day. As a result of the blockade caused by Israel's virtual closure of all the border crossings, the number of trucks carrying supplies into Gaza has plummeted, the report continued. Palestinian farmers raising cash crops have been prevented from exporting them via Israel. As a result of the growing poverty and the blockade, food prices have risen and there is a shortage of goods including wheat flour, milk and cooking oil. The organizations charged that the Gaza economy has collapsed. In the past six months, most private businesses have shut down and 3,500 out of 3,900 factories have closed, causing a total of 75,000 people to lose their jobs. The report also charged that the cuts in fuel and electricity imposed by Israel in the past few months have caused serious damage to the water supply, sewage treatment, and hospitals. It also accused Israel of reducing the number of Palestinians in need of medical aid unobtainable in Gaza who receive permits to seek treatment in Israel or abroad.