End Israel's blockade of Gaza, petition urges

2015-08-26 07:53

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cairo - One year after a ceasefire agreement ended Gaza's 51-day war, hundreds of thousands of people have signed a petition urging world leaders to pressure Israel to lift its blockade of the Palestinian territory.

The petition - launched by the online activist group Avaaz and supported by dozens of other organisations, including World Vision International and Medical Aid for Palestinians, notes that 100 000 Palestinians in Gaza remain homeless and calls for "urgent action" to allow more construction materials to enter the besieged coastal enclave.

"For a whole year the Israeli government has restricted basic and essential construction materials from entering Gaza. Not one of the 19 000 homes that were bombed and destroyed has been fully rebuilt," notes the petition, released on Wednesday.

Organisers said they were aiming to gain 1.8 million signatories, representing the current population of the Gaza Strip. The move comes a year after a ceasefire agreement ended the war on August 26, 2014.

Stalled progress

Just 5% of the nearly seven million tons of cement, steel and aggregates required to rebuild Gaza have so far been allowed to enter the territory, according to Avaaz. At that rate, the group noted, it could take 17 years to complete reconstruction.

In addition to the Israeli blockade, Gaza's border with Egypt is also frequently closed and smuggling tunnels in Gaza's south have been systematically destroyed. The ongoing political bickering between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been blamed for further stalling reconstruction.

In previous comments to Al Jazeera, a spokesperson for the Israeli government said it was working "to advance the reconstruction" of Gaza, with hundreds of truckloads of reconstruction supplies entering each month. The United Nations-sponsored rebuilding mechanism "includes means for the oversight of supplies in order to prevent their misuse for terror activities", the spokesperson said.

But aid organisations maintain that critical materials are still not getting through.

Unfulfilled pledges

"What Gaza needs more than anything is reconstruction, yet the government of Israel restricts the entry of even the most basic building materials… [preventing] the rebuilding of even the most vital infrastructure in Gaza, including hospitals and clinics," said Tony Laurance, the CEO of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

Organisations supporting the petition are calling on donor countries, who collectively pledged $3.5bn in aid to rebuild Gaza at the 2014 Cairo conference, to fulfil their promises. Funds have been trickling in amid concerns over the Hamas-PA tensions and a number of other major regional crises that have demanded donor aid.

The 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza killed more than 2 200 Palestinians and more than 70 Israelis. Thousands of houses were damaged or entirely destroyed by Israeli bombs, leaving tens of thousands of Palestinians with nowhere to live.

Gaza City resident Ibrahem el-Shatali told Avaaz that many of his friends and family were still homeless, unable to rebuild their lives.

"How can we live like this, surrounded by rubble, with no hope?… All we need are basic building materials and a fresh start," he said.

Read more on:    palestine  |  israel  |  middle east peace  |  gaza

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.