One year on and Gaza is still in crisis, says Trócaire

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Written by Alan Whelan on Wed, 2009-12-23 12:00

One year after Israel's military offensive in Gaza, more than 1.4 million people remain in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, Trócaire said today.

On 27 December 2008, Israeli attacks on Gaza resulted in the deaths of 1,417 Palestinians . 14 Israeli citizens were killed in Palestinian rocket attacks in the same period .

Their efforts to recover from the sustained bombardment a year ago have been made almost impossible because of an illegal blockade'on the people of Gaza that has been in place since June 2007.

"A year on from the devastating violence in Gaza, innocent women and children continue to live in appalling conditions because of the Israeli-imposed blockade on Gaza's borders," said Justin Kilcullen, Trócaire's Director. "Basics such as food, medicine and fuel remain in chronically short supply," Mr Kilcullen said.

"Power cuts are now a daily fact of life. Even the homes that were destroyed or damaged during the conflict cannot be repaired because the Gazans are also not allowed access to sufficient cement and basic building materials."

Mr Kilcullen continued: "Gazans are even forbidden from importing basic items such as spare parts for cars and buses, plastic sheeting for shelter, toys for their children, wheelchairs for their disabled, books and stationery for their students, or even footballs and music instruments."

The blockage has extended even to European officials, politicians and aid workers, who remain largely unable to investigate the devastation in Gaza. Minister for Foreign Affairs , Micheál Martin TD, recently told the Dáil's European Affairs Committee how he was "flatly turned down by Israel without any substantive reason being given" when he tried to enter Gaza.

He also told the Committee that several colleagues on the European Council had not been granted permission to visit Gaza, again with no adequate explanation or justification.

Trócaire is calling on Ireland, the EU and the international community to pressurise Israel to immediately open all access routes into Gaza and to lift the crippling two-and-a-half year siege to allow for free movement of people, goods and services.

Trócaire this week launched a report co-authored with 15 other humanitarian organisations throughout Europe. The report, entitled 'Failing Gaza: No rebuilding, no recovery, no more excuses' describes how the ongoing blockade prevents reconstruction and recovery of Gaza from the extensive damage caused by the Israeli military offensive one year ago.

The report also addresses extensively the role of the international community, which "can and must do far more to end this illegal and inhumane blockade".