'Gaza blockade is collective punishment'

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

gaza woman 298 (photo credit: AP)
gaza woman 298
(photo credit: AP)

'sblockade of the Gaza Strip constitutes collective punishment against itscivilian population, Amnesty International claimed in a report released forpublication Monday to mark the one year anniversary of the end of Operation CastLead in the coastal territory.

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

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

The release of the report comes only days after the Defense Ministrypresented figures showing improvements in 'shumanitarian situation, noting that even during Cast Lead some 1,400 truckscarrying supplies were allowed to enter.

The Defense Ministry cited an overall 28% rise in humanitarian goodsentering 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 GazaCoordination and Liaison Administration, which brought together representativesfrom major international organizations operating in .

When contacted by The Jerusalem Post Sunday, Amnesty did not deny thefigures

presented by the Defense Ministry. Instead, it cited a report they releasedlast month that stated that since the end of Cast Lead, only 41 truckloads ofconstruction materials have been let in.

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

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