Gaza: 7th Year of Unlawful Blockade (UN HRC SR Press Release)

15 Jun

Gaza Blockade

Prefatory Note: I am posting a press release of yesterday, 14 June 2013, to take note of the start of the seventh year of the Israeli blockade. After the Mavi Marmara incident, 31 May 2010 and the more recent November ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Gaza government there was an undertaking to ease the blockade with respect to the flow back and forth of people and goods, but the situation remains desperate for the civilian population of Gaza that remains essentially locked into the Gaza Strip where economic destitution has reached epidemic extremes and where the water is mostly unfit for human consumption. The international community, and its main leaders, have commented adversely on the blockade, but nothing happens! It is this sense of powerlessness that is undermining the legitimacy and relevance of the United Nations to the suffering of the Palestinian people, and with particular relevance to the extreme ordeal of the civilian population of Gaza.

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Freedom Flotilla 

 

 

UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner

Press Release on start of 7th year of Gaza Blockade

Collective punishment in Gaza must end: Israel’s blockade enters its 7th year – UN Special Rapporteur        

GENEVA, 14 June 2013 – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, Richard Falk, called today on Israel to end its blockade over the Gaza Strip, six years after it was tightened following the Hamas takeover in June 2007. The human suffering of the land, sea and air blockade imposed on the 1.75 million Palestinians living in one of the most densely populated and impoverished areas of the world has been devastating.

“Six years of Israel’s calculated strangulation of the Gaza Strip has stunted the economy and has kept most Gazans in a state of perpetual poverty and aid dependency,” said the UN expert. “Whether it is fishermen unable to go beyond six nautical miles from the shore, farmers unable to access their land near the Israeli fence, businessmen suffering from severe restrictions on the export of goods, students denied access to education in the West Bank, or patients in need of urgent medical attention refused access to Palestinian hospitals in the West Bank, the destructive designs of blockade have been felt by every single household in Gaza. It is especially felt by Palestinian families separated by the blockade,” he added.

Gaza children at fence

“The people of Gaza have endured the unendurable and suffered what is insufferable for six years. Israel’s collective punishment of the civilian population in Gaza must end today,” said the Special Rapporteur.

“Israel has the responsibility as the Occupying Power to protect the civilian population. But instead of allowing a healthy people and economy to flourish, Israeli authorities have sealed off the Gaza Strip. According to statistics released by the Israeli Ministry of Defense, last month’s exports out of Gaza consisted of 49 truckloads of empty boxes, three truckloads of spices, one truckload of cut flowers, and one truckload of furniture,” he said. In 2012, the total number of truckloads of exports leaving Gaza was 254, compared to 9,787 in 2005 before the tightening of the blockade.

“It does not take an economist to figure out that such a trickle of goods out of Gaza is not the basis of a viable economy,” noted the UN expert. “The easing of the blockade announced by Israel in June 2010 after its deadly assault on the flotilla of ships carrying aid to the besieged population resulted only in an increase in consumer goods entering Gaza, and has not improved living conditions for most Gazans.  Since 2007, the productive capacity of Gaza has dwindled with 80 percent of factories in Gaza now closed or operating at half capacity or less due to the loss of export markets and prohibitively high operating costs as a result of the blockade. 34 percent of Gaza’s workforce is unemployed including up to half the youth population, 44 percent of Gazans are food insecure, 80 percent of Gazans are aid recipients,” he said.

“To make matters worse, 90 percent of the water from the Gaza aquifer is unsafe for human consumption without treatment, and severe fuel and electricity shortage results in outages of up to 12 hours a day. Only a small proportion of Gazans who can afford to obtain supplies through the tunnel economy are buffered from the full blow of the blockade, but tunnels alone cannot meet the daily needs of the population in Gaza.”

“Last year, the United Nations forecast that under existing conditions, Gaza would be uninhabitable by 2020. Less optimistic forecasts presented to me were that the Gaza Strip may no longer be viable only three years from now,” said the Special Rapporteur. “It’s clear that the Israeli authorities set out six years ago to devitalize  the Gazan population and economy,” he said, referring to a study undertaken by the Israeli Ministry of Defense in early 2008 detailing the minimum number of calories Palestinians in Gaza need to consume on a daily basis to avoid malnutrition.  The myriad of restrictions imposed by Israel do not permit civilians in Gaza to develop to their full potential, and enjoy and exercise fully their human rights.

ENDS

In 2008, the UN Human Rights Council designated Richard Falk (United States of America) as the fifth Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the UN Commission on Human Rights.

Learn more, log on to: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/countries/ps/mandate/index.htm

UN Human Rights – Occupied Palestinian Territories: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/MENARegion/Pages/PSIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights – Israel: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/ILIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Kevin Turner (kturner@ohchr.org) or Kiyohiko Hasegawa khasegawa@ohchr.org) or write to sropt@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:

Cécile Pouilly, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)

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20 Responses to “Gaza: 7th Year of Unlawful Blockade (UN HRC SR Press Release)”

  1. gazaheart June 15, 2013 at 4:34 am #

    Reblogged this on Tales of a City by the Sea.

  2. Gene Schulman June 15, 2013 at 5:24 am #

    Perhaps when the Israelis stop indoctrinating their children, and citizenry in general, that Arabs are subhuman ‘untermentschen’, as the Nazis considered the Jews in their own era of persecution, they will begin to treat their neighbors with a bit of humanity. Like that former IDF soldier from the NGO “Breaking the Silence” at the conference on “The Situation of Palestinian Children”, Avihai Stollar, told us: Israeli children are taught from a very young age in the schools, that Arabs are animals and do not have the same rights as Israelis.

    More work and teaching such as yours can only help, Richard. Your explanation at the conference of your persistent efforts is encouraging, and should be emulated.

    • Gene Schulman June 15, 2013 at 7:20 am #

      This may add some flavor to the above remarks:

      http://www.veteranstoday.com/2013/06/15/the-israeli-lab-and-the-palestinian-guinea-pigs/

      • monalisa June 15, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

        to Gene Schulman:

        thank you for your web link. I read this article.
        Somehow when 2009 the “Cast Lead” fell over the Gaza-Strip and I got the news and saw some pictures my first impression was almost the same: Israels force is carrying out some sort of “probes” in order to see how the effects are on the bombed people.

        Doesn’t this remind somehow on USA at the end of the war between USA and Japan ? They could have dropped their nuculear bombs anywhere else but no, they dropped it over two cities.

        As long as such terrible things are carried out as long the danger prevails that we as a mankind will “sort ourselves out from this planet”. And I think we are already on the verge of this.
        Too many sales for murdering and bombing other populations on our earth. The greed for more and more power and money dictates.

        monalisa

  3. oldguyincolorado June 15, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    I would like to remind Mr. Schulman of many things, but only have time for just a few:
    1. @1.2 million Arabs live in Isreal and have the right to vote, freedom to work, freedom to practice their religion and freedom of movement.
    2. All Jews have been thrown out of Gaza.
    3. Much of what is worthwhile in Gaza, by way of infrastruture, was built while Jews were there – it was a cesspool while under Arab administration from pre-1948 up to 1967 when Isreal took over.
    4. When shooting starts in Gaza it is almost always started by Arabs. Isreal does initiate it when “specific” targets present themselves, unlike the random shooting by Hamas.
    5. Isreal has the absolute right to defend itself.
    6. The “blockade” by Isreal is justified in order to prevent the importation of weapons to Hamas – at least as to military type or dual purpose goods. Goods must be inspected to verify that they are as is represented. It is not the duty of Isreal to make the lives of the citizens of Gaza easy – it is the rexact opposite.
    7. The citizens of Gaza chose Hamas.
    8. The goal of Hamas is to kill every Jew in the entire world – see their Charter
    9. Hamas, and therefor Gaza, is still in a state of war with Isreal.
    10. This war by Hamas has nothing to do with politics – it is religious – see their Charter
    11. Hamas does not care who it kills, just so long as one of the targets is a Jew or supporter of Jews. Collateral damage means nothing to them.
    12. Isreal tries to limit collateral damage when it shoots back – it even warns civilians in Gaza to remove themselves from the area targeted.
    13. The solution to the troubles in Gaza is to remove Hamas, cause Hamas to change it’s stated goals or “somehow” to stop the shootings by it – here the U.N. seems to be helpless.
    14. It would appear that the citizens of Gaza are either unable or unwilling to stop Hamas in it’s war against Isreal and therefore have only their own government (Hamas) to blame.
    15. It is not the responsibility of your enemy (Isreal) to protect you (civilians of Gaza) from the damage being done to you by the actions of your own government (although Isreal clearly tries to do that when it shoots back).
    I could gone on, but doubt that it will be of much help.
    If Mr. Schulman disagrees with me (and I am sure he does), I suggest that his responses start by pointing out to me how I have misread the Charter of Hamas. Count the number of times that document uses the word “kill” in reference to Jews and explain to me that my understanding of that word is wrong.

    • monalisa June 15, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

      to oldguyincolorado:

      have you been brainwashed ???

      No idea of history ??

      If you don’t belive Moslems than you should speak to Christians living there in order to get a more real picture of facts.

      And the right to defend themselves ? Who ?
      The right to defend themselves have the oppressed people and in the case of Israel are these the oppressed Palestinians (not all are Moslems to remind you!).
      Read the relevant Geneva Convention as well as the relevant UNO Chapters to which all UNO members are bound.

      Gaza doesn’t even have a real military force to compete with Israels force.

      If you are living in Colorado/USA you show to the world community the level of education.

      monalisa

      • Gene Schulman June 15, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

        Good for you, monalisa. That oldguyincolorado is either just plane ignorant, or perhaps suffering heat stroke from those tragic fires in Colorado.

  4. monalisa June 15, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    Dear Richard,

    thank you for bringing this into the open !

    Chapeau !!

    You are one of these extremely rare and extraordinary personalities who stand up to defend the law and the oppressed people !

    I admire you for this greatly !

    Take care of yourself,

    monalisa

    • Gene Schulman June 15, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

      Good for you, monalisa. That oldguyincolorado must either be ignorant, or perhaps suffering heat stroke from those tragic fires out in Colorado.

      • Gene Schulman June 15, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

        Sorry about the double entry. I didn’t think the first one passed. Anyhow, it emphasizes my point. No point in arguing with a brick wall.

      • oldguyincolorado June 15, 2013 at 11:06 pm #

        Looks to me as if we have a bit of a cabal working here. No response to any of my points, just a self admiration society functioning and deprecatng a person who holds different views based on some, none of which you have shown to be wrong. Perhaps you may wish to review the videos of that very altruistic fellow who had his head cut off while he was very much alive, or that really neat guy cutting out the heart of an enemy and eating it, or that wonderful woman caught at a checkpoint who was on her way to suicide bomb the Isreali clinic which just saved her life, or that honorable Islamic cleric who was teaching very youg children (on a TV childs program, no less) that Jews were animals and should be exterminated, etc. etc.ad nauseum (whoops – I just used some Latin – how could this uneducated dolt know any of that ? – must have picked something up during my 8 years of university training at a top 1o school from which I received 3 degrees – one in modern history no less).

        My view of your narrow-minded views, simply put, is: ex nihilow nihil fit. Whoops, there goes some Latin again.

        Wiederschoen (now where on earth did that come from? – hope the spelling was correct since I haven’t spoken that language in about 50 years.

        I give you a point about the dropping of the bombs: they should have been dropped just off shore in order to demonstrate what could happen if that war was not stopped. I still remember the sound of the second bomb as it came over our radio.

        Thanks for your commiseration about our fires – I have some very wonderful Christian friends who lost everything. Nice going folks. With this class of blogger, I have nothing further to say – especially since you seem to be able to say anything. Very humanistic of you.

  5. Gene Schulman June 15, 2013 at 11:43 pm #

    Ah, oldguyincolorado. What’s the point in responding to your points when all they are is rehashed hasbara we’ve all heard and responded to many times over. And you keep playing the same record over and over again, just like your confederates, Rabbi Ira and David Singer. Our replies would only be as boring to you as yours are to us, because you just turn a deaf ear, if not an ignorant one. Glad you’re so proud of your university training. Though 8 years doesn’t seem to have added any intelligence to the world. We are not impressed.

    • oldguyincolorado June 17, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

      Gene – I merely point out, via my education (a subject you folks initially brought up) that I, too, have an education which does give me some background to speak on these issues. I really have read a lot of history – which one of you suggested that I do. You folks brought that up, not me.Sorry that I bore you, but from my reading, all you seem to do is to rehash, too. Why do you bother? I wont since it appears that your ears are deaf as well. One wall not talking to another, I guess. The difference between us appears to be that mine is built with facts and yours built with blindness.

      I never contended that the Palestinians have no rights or any cause to complain. Like a legion of others (perhaps not including you?), I believe that much of that should be directed towards their leadership. They are poorly served in that regard. Most of their plight should have been over with the Barak, Clinton, Arafat and Bandar negotiations. Do you not agree? They prolong their own sufferings. Is that the fault of Isreal? Isreal is suffering from that poor PA leadership, as well. Can’t you see that? Arafat never even came back with a counter-proposal, did he?

      Do you contend that Hamas and Gaza are not Palestinian? If so, then why is Abbas trying to get them back? They only complicate his problems. Do you believe that honest negotiation provides that all of the ultimate demands by one side first be met before they are then subject to negotiations? If so, then we truely do live in two different worlds. Perhaps that is the case, in which case talking will never help and only war results. Sad. All Isreal wants is peace and secure borders for which it is wiling to negotiate, without pre-conditions, including border adjustments. What is the PA really after? Perhaps what Arafat told the Muslim world in Arabic. If so, you folks will then be facilitators. Think on that my friend.

      Shalom.

  6. Paul Wapner June 17, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    I’m sad that at least one reader refuses your invitation to engage in constructive discussion over this issue.

    The Press Release is an excellent summation of your June 10 Report, which is an insightful, well-reasoned, and sobering analysis. I read the Report with a heavy heart. It is mind-boggling how the Gazans continue to live under inhumane conditions. The evidence you and many others produce demonstrates that Israel is uninterested in humanitarian law or norms, and is so mired in its own self-reflexive illusion of victimhood that it cannot even recognize its own brutality. (Or, perhaps it can recognize it, but just doesn’t care.)

    As you have noted before, this doesn’t relieve one of the obligation to keep reporting the dark realities and to keep alive a counter-narrative that cares about justice even if that narrative is relegated to the sidelines. You are the perfect person to serve as the UN Special Rapporteur.

    While I hesitate to draw your attention away from Palestine, I must say that I’ve been looking to you for insight about Turkey. Might you help your readers navigate current Turkish affairs?

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