OPT: Israeli blockade of Gaza must end

EU Foreign Ministers must ensure Israel ends its blockade of Gaza when they meet Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Luxembourg today, warned international agency Oxfam. Nearly one and a half million Gazans will soon run out of food and medical supplies if Israel does not lift the blockade. Around eighty per cent of Gazans are reliant on food aid, all of which must enter through crossings that Israel controls. Gazan fuel depots also report they are running short of supplies.

As Occupying Power Israel is responsible for the welfare of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. The European Union has an obligation to ensure that Israel abides by international humanitarian law.

Elena Qleibo, a Program Officer for Oxfam in Gaza said: "Israel must open the borders to allow food, fuel and medical supplies to enter Gaza. Doctors have told me they are already running short of basic medical supplies like syringes and gloves. Shops are running short of food. Unless Israel allows humanitarian access, Oxfam and other agencies will not be able to provide urgently needed supplies."

A year long financial boycott of the Palestinian government, by the European Union, Israel and the US has contributed to increasing poverty, the collapse of essential services and violence. Efforts by the European Union to provide direct aid to some government workers and Fatah-led institutions have been unable to address the decline while inflaming tensions between Palestinian factions.

Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director of Oxfam International, added: "European governments must lift their destructive financial boycott which has contributed to the violence. The civilians of Gaza and the West Bank need humanitarian support and basic services. They should resume European aid to capable institutions in Gaza and the West Bank as soon as practically possible."

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Shaista Aziz +44 (0)1865 473152, +44 (0)7810 814980

Sean Kenny +44 (0)1865 472 359, +44 (0)7881 655 715