Civilians in Gaza see no hope of a brighter future – and that’s one of the most distressing aspects of the situation in the Middle East.
So says Hanan Elmasu, Christian Aid‘s emergency advocacy officer for the region who worked on a briefing detailing the impact of Israel’s measures to ease the blockade of Gaza after six months.
Elmasu, a regular visitor to Gaza, told The Baptist Times, “Life for Gaza civilians is very traumatic. There is very little economic activity, high unemployment and much of the population are dependent on handouts.
“I’ve been going to Gaza for several years and have seen how life has changed. What’s distressing is the destruction of the people there. There used to be a glimmer of hope, but now there is an inability of people to plan for the future.
“Parents can’t provide for their children, children aren’t going to school because of a lack of construction materials and you put all that together and it’s a hopeless position.”
Christian Aid was part of an international coalition of 22 development, human rights and peace-building organizations to have compiled a report looking at the effects of Israel’s measures to ease the blockade of Gaza, announced in June.
The report, “Dashed Hopes: Continuation of the Gaza Blockade,” says that little has changed for Gaza’s 1.5 million population because “not only has Israel neglected to address major elements of the blockade in its easing measures, such as lifting the ban on exports from Gaza, but it has failed so far to live up to key commitments it did make.”
For instance, Israel promised to expand and accelerate imports of construction materials for United Nations’ and other international projects such as schools, health centers, houses and sewage plants, many of which were damaged or destroyed during the military operation in December 2008 and January 2009.
But in reality progress has been “slow and limited” since this pledge, says the report.
An average of only 715 truckloads of construction materials have entered the Gaza Strip per month since the easing announcement. The United Nations has estimated that Gaza needs 670,000 truckloads of construction materials for housing alone.
Exports remain banned, which continues to “cripple” the local economy, while the movement of people has also seen little change, adds the report.
The coalition is calling for renewed international action to ensure “an immediate, unconditional and complete lifting of the blockade.”
This article appeared originally in The Baptist Times of Great Britain.