Aid groups say world must push for end to Gaza blockade

2015-04-13 14:51
A Palestinian school girl walks to her family house passes by a destroyed building that was damaged in last summer's Israel-Hamas war. (Adel Hana, AP)

A Palestinian school girl walks to her family house passes by a destroyed building that was damaged in last summer's Israel-Hamas war. (Adel Hana, AP)

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Jerusalem - Reconstruction of thousands of homes and businesses destroyed in last summer's Israel-Hamas war in Gaza has barely begun and living conditions in the territory have only worsened six months after donor countries pledged $3.5bn for the task, a coalition of international aid groups said Monday.

The Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA) urged the international community to adopt a new approach to Gaza, including by pressuring Israel to lift its border blockade of the Hamas-controlled territory.

The blockade, also enforced by Egypt, has been in place since the Islamic militant group Hamas seized Gaza in 2007.

The report signed by 46 aid groups said only open borders and a durable Israel-Hamas cease-fire can bring economic, social and political stability to Gaza. Otherwise, "a return to conflict, and the cycles of damage and donor-funded reconstruction that accompany it is inevitable," the report said.

Israel and Egypt say they need to maintain the closure because Hamas, shunned by much of the world as a terror group, poses a security threat. Israel has fought three wars with Hamas in the past six years, in part to try to halt Gaza rocket fire on Israeli towns.

The 2014 war was the most devastating for Gaza's 1.8 million people, killing more than 2 200 Palestinians, a majority of them civilians, according to UN figures. Seventy-two people were killed on the Israeli side, including 66 soldiers.

The report said about 19 000 homes were destroyed or severely damaged in Gaza, while another 134 000 suffered some damage but are fit to live in. About 100 000 people are still displaced, living in UN schools, tents pitched on rubble or rented apartments and storefronts.

In October, donor countries and international organisations pledged $3.5bn for Gaza. So far, only $945m, or 26.8%, has been released, the report said.

"Six months after the donor conference, little tangible change has taken place on the ground in Gaza and living conditions for women, girls, men and boys continue to worsen," the report said.

Read more on:    palestine  |  israel  |  gaza

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