Vital humanitarian work of international humanitarian and development agencies in the Gaza Strip is being impeded by access restrictions imposed on international and local Palestinian staff by Israeli authorities. Emergency programmes to make sure people in Gaza have safe drinking water and sewage services, effective health care and sufficient nutritious food to eat are being undermined by Israeli authorities preventing the full and unimpeded humanitarian access that is demanded by international humanitarian law where the occupying power is not meeting its obligation to ensure the well being of the civilian population.
The ability to move to and from the Gaza Strip at short notice and without unreasonable delay is essential for international humanitarian and development agencies who work with local partners to play their part in ensuring the quality, timely delivery and sustainability of essential services for alleviating the humanitarian consequences on Palestinians in Gaza of the Israeli government's blockade of Gaza.
Restrictions on entry to Gaza have grown rapidly in recent weeks with the introduction of shorter crossing opening hours at Erez and longer delays in processing requests for entry into Gaza. On 2 November 2008 the Erez crossing opening hours for staff of international humanitarian and development agencies and the United Nations were reduced from 60 hours to 45 hours a week. Restrictions have further tightened since the recent violations of the truce on both sides. Even after prior agreement from Israeli authorities, there is still often considerable delay at Erez crossing, particularly for local Palestinian staff. Written confirmation detailing decisions is not provided by Israeli authorities, often leading to further delays. These further conditions add to the collective punishment of Gaza's 1.5 million population.
International humanitarian and development agencies call on the government of Israel and the leaders and senior officials of the international community to ensure a transparent and accountable system of unimpeded humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip so that high quality, effective and sustainable essential services are delivered to the people who need them. Urgent steps are needed from the Israeli authorities to ensure that simple and clear procedures facilitate unrestricted access to and from Gaza for international and Palestinian staff of international humanitarian and development agencies and that these procedures do not put an unreasonable administrative burden on these agencies. Clear written procedures and guidance are needed to ensure that unimpeded humanitarian access is fully guaranteed in line with international humanitarian law.
- Action Against Hunger
- Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED)
- CARE West Bank and Gaza
- COOPI (Cooperazione Internazionale)
- Gruppo di Volontariato Civile
- Handicap International
- Medical Aid for Palestinians UK
- Norwegian People's Aid - Palestine
- Oxfam International
- The Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden
- Premiere Urgence
- Relief International
- Solidaridad Internacional
- War Child Holland
- World Vision International