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Amnesty demands Israel 'immediately' lift Gaza blockade
Published Tuesday 03/12/2013 (updated) 04/12/2013 03:45
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Gaza residents wade through sewage after the local wastewater
treatment plant failed, flooding their neighborhood, in early November.
(MaanImages/Ezz Al Zanoon)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- British human rights organization Amnesty International condemned the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip in a statement released on Monday, demanding Israel "immediately lift its blockade" on the besieged coastal enclave "by allowing the delivery of fuel and other essential supplies into the territory without restrictions."

The statement highlighted that the situation in Gaza had deteriorated significantly in the last month, as "Gaza's 1.7 million residents have been living without power for most of the time and in the shadow of a public health catastrophe, after their sole power plant was forced to shut down, causing the failure of several sewerage and water plants."

"This latest harsh setback has exacerbated the assault on the dignity of Palestinians in Gaza and the massive denial of rights they have experienced for more than six years because of Israel’s blockade, together with restrictions imposed by Egypt," Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International, was quoted as saying in the report.

The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli blockade for nearly 7 years. However, since the July military coup, Egypt has strictly enforced the blockade and targeted underground tunnels that used to provide the strip with a vital lifeline to the outside world.

The report stressed that the rapid deterioration of the situation in recent weeks was caused by Egypt's post-coup crackdown, but also highlighted that, "as the occupying power, Israel has the primary responsibility for addressing the current crisis by immediately increasing fuel supplies to Gaza."

Amnesty International, however, called on Egypt to "facilitate construction of new power lines" into the southern Gaza Strip, and to negotiate between Israel and Gaza to end the crisis.

In early November, Gaza authorities that there was extremely little fuel available in the strip due to the blockade, leading to widespread disruptions of the functioning of basic services.

The Amnesty International statement highlighted the potentially disastrous implications for public health caused by this lack of fuel, pointing out that "all 291 water and wastewater facilities in the Gaza Strip are now relying on standby generators."

It also noted that a large sewage pumping station had failed south of Gaza City earlier in the month, "allowing more than 35,000 cubic meters of raw sewage to spew into the streets."

Clean-up did not begin until weeks later due to lack of resources, leaving thousands of local residents to wade through sewage in order to leave their homes.

The statement highlighted that water supply was also deeply restricted because of the tightening of the blockade, and 65 percent of Gaza's population only received access to water "every three or four days."

'Fundamental human rights' are being violated

"For each day that the Gaza power plant does not receive fuel, the risk of a massive public health crisis increases. Access to adequate sanitation and drinking water are fundamental human rights. The power plant shutdown should never have been allowed to happen," added Philip Luther.

The statement revealed that the effects of the blockade were also being felt in hospitals and health facilities, as they were relying on generators during power outages. These generators, however, are also effected by the severe lack of fuel, "jeopardizing essential services like kidney dialysis, operating theaters, blood banks, intensive care units, neo-natal care, and laboratories, putting patients` lives at risk."

The statement said that the effects of the crisis were being felt in every aspect of life, as "businesses, construction, and much agricultural work ... ground to a halt amid the power cuts and shortages of fuel and building materials."

This has severely reduced people's access to steady income even further than before.

"Bakeries have reduced production and people are forced to queue to buy bread. Transportation throughout the Strip has been curtailed; carts pulled by donkeys are now being used to collect solid waste," the statement continued.
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1 ) dan / netherlands
03/12/2013 13:14
funny that the Hamas - Fatah fight is not mentioned. Or is that not the reason Gaza is without petrol...

2 ) Claudia / Italy
03/12/2013 15:17
Just wait till EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the UN Security Council, Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour United Nations and Humanitarian Coordinator James Rawley, The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs The International Federation for Human Rights, Defenders of Human Rights Center, Ahrar Center for Prisoners Studies and Human Rights all express concern

3 ) howard / usa
03/12/2013 16:28
No condemnation to Egypt??

4 ) RondoMondo / Canada
03/12/2013 19:21
Israel sells oil to the PA for 4 NIS per liter, the PA offers to resell the oil to Gaza at 7 NIS plus taxes. Hamas refuses to buy gas from the PA because of the taxes. How is it Israel's fault that Hamas and Fatah cannot agree on a price so that Israeli oil can flow to Gaza? And why should it be Israel's problem to solve Gaza's energy crisis. Maybe Hamas should use its stockpiles for military purposes for the civilians of Gaza. Maybe Gaza should build the relay structure for Gaza's Plant.

5 ) Truth / Spoken
03/12/2013 19:26
#1 it's not the reason The reason is the 60 years of brutal occupation caused by Zion Why isn't israel fighting Germany , they killed more Jews than anyone. Reason is that Zionist want Palestine plain and simple it's not about holocost

6 ) Coward / USA
03/12/2013 19:27
#3 Egypt has borders while Palestine is occupied

7 ) Johnny benson / USA
03/12/2013 19:35
Who cares what they say.....if Israel bent to every demand , it would be national suicide....

8 ) Outlier / USA
03/12/2013 20:31
Amnesty International is clearly out of touch with the region's current geopolitical realities.

9 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
03/12/2013 20:32
If you read the AI report, the word "rocket" does not appear once. Neither is the brutal attack by Palestinian terrorists on the fuel transfer depot in 2008 that left two innocent Israelis dead - they were transferring fuel to Gaza. Shame on AI for issuing such a blatantly biased report.

10 ) Maureen / Australia
03/12/2013 20:47
#3 howard It is Israel who is committing slow genocide of all Palestininian culture and its people! It is Israel who is the land theif! It is Israel who is coveting the last remaining Palestinian coast line and all of its marine treasures!

11 ) Arnold / Canada
03/12/2013 21:07
Screw off you British blow hards. Screw you with your demands. Go make demand on Egypt. You bloody (h)arses.

12 ) John Turnbull / Canada
03/12/2013 21:13
@dan Don't pretend that cooperation between Hamas and Fatah would make fuel flow to Gaza. The PA buys it (and pays the taxes), but they don't control shipment. Nor do they control export from Gaza that could attract the currency to create an ordinary market for fuel. @ howard Both Israel and Egypt are within their rights to build a fence and stay behind it, denying trade if they wish. The blockade of Gaza by sea is what prevents Gaza from looking after itself as best it can. That's the IDF.

13 ) some one / some where
04/12/2013 00:43
some one must tell this idiot "Philip Luther" he should harsh hamas authority not to spend million of $ to dig a tunnel from Gaza to their country you expect to do anything you want and they should snde you thank you note with flower? really idiot

14 ) RealityCheck / World
06/12/2013 06:44
#10 Maybe they shouldnt have tried to annihilate Israel in '48 then, and threatened to do so again repeatedly for 65 years, they might have their land back.
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