Gaza Strip

Palestine Update  156
Special edition

Gaza Strip

The Gaza Strip, run by Hamas, is a poverty-stricken and overcrowded Palestinian coastal enclave under a crippling blockade by Israel, with which it has fought several wars. After Israel tightened the blockade on Tuesday by suspending fuel deliveries amid fears of a new all-out conflict, here is some background. Gaza is one of the most densely populated territories on the planet with around two million Palestinians squeezed into 362 square kilometers (140 square miles). It was seized by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967. In 2005 Israel withdrew its soldiers and settlers, ending 38 years of occupation. But it imposed a blockade in 2006, restricting the cross-border movement of people and goods following the capture of a soldier by Hamas militants on Israeli territory. The blockade was tightened a year later after the ousting of troops loyal to the rival Fatah faction of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas. The only entrance to Gaza not controlled by Israel is at Rafah on the Egyptian border. This too has been almost completely closed since extremists launched an insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula after the military overthrew Egypt’s president Muhammad Mursi in 2013.Palestinians in Gaza are ‘locked in’, denied free access to the remainder of the occupied Palestinian territory and the outside world. Movement restrictions imposed by Israel since the early 1990’s and intensified in June 2007, following the takeover of Gaza by Hamas, have severely undermined the living conditions. The isolation of Gaza has been exacerbated by restrictions imposed by the Egyptian authorities on its single passengers crossing (Rafah), as well as by the internal Palestinian divide. The UN Secretary-General has found that the blockade and related restrictions contravene international humanitarian law as they target and impose hardship on the civilian population, effectively penalizing them for acts they have not committed. Major escalations of hostilities in the past years have resulted in extensive destruction and internal displacement. In May 2018 Israel began working on a “new and impenetrable” coastal barrier just north of Gaza to prevent the possibility of Palestinians entering by sea. The Gaza Strip has almost no industry and suffers from a chronic lack of water and fuel. Its GDP losses caused by the blockade are estimated at more than 50 percent, the World Bank says. Unemployment stands at 45 percent and more than two-thirds of the population depends on aid.

Human right to water is indispensable for a life in human dignity

  • In Gaza, the devastating water crisis and electricity shortage have forced hospitals to reduce the cleaning and sterilizing of medical facilities.
  • The hospitals are overwhelmed with patients. Since the Great March of Return demonstrations began on March 30, 2018, Israeli forces have injured more than 15,500 Palestinians.
  • Of the 8,221 Palestinians requiring hospitalization, 63% were limb injuries, and nearly half (4,023) were the result of gunshot wounds.
  • 61 Palestinians received amputations, 11 of them children.
  • 10 Palestinians have been left paralyzed. More than 1,400 Palestinians are at risk of longer-term physical disability.

Of the 138 people killed by the Israeli army so far this year, 27 were children. 21 of those children were targeted in Gaza with live bullets (11 were shot in the head and neck).
Source: UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Rehabilitation needs of Palestinians seriously injured during Gaza demonstrations: Over 1,400 may suffer long-term disability
Although the number of casualties recorded during the ‘Great March of Return’ demonstrations in Gaza declined during June (see infographic), the health sector has continued to struggle with the cumulative caseload of serious injuries, particularly those requiring long-term rehabilitation.

The recent increased demand on health services exacerbates a number of longstanding challenges to the capacity of the health sector in Gaza. These challenges include on-going shortages of medicines and medical disposables, large electricity deficits for health facilities, a continuing salary crisis affecting government employees and Israeli restrictions on access for vulnerable patients requiring health care not available in Gaza. Additionally, the import to Gaza of materials required for the production of artificial limbs, including carbon fiber and epoxy resins, is restricted, due to Israel’s consideration of these materials as ‘dual use’ items, which could be used also for military purposes.

Survey identifies 19,700 housing units beyond repair and 24,000 requiring prioritized shelter assistance
The number of housing units in substandard conditions across the Gaza Strip increased dramatically since mid-2014 as a direct result of hostilities that took place that year. Nearly four years later, over a third of the homes that sustained some type of damage (some 59,000 out 171,000) are yet to be repaired.

Gaza’s incendiary kite-flyers defy Israeli threats
By Nour Abu Aisha
‘Sons of al-Zawari’ vow to continue resistance until Israel lifts its years-long blockade of Gaza

A group of Palestinian activists in the Gaza Strip who have been flying incendiary kites and balloons into Israeli territory say they will continue their activities — despite Israeli threats — until the 11-year blockade of Gaza is lifted. “Since morning, our units have been steering flaming kites and balloons over Israeli-occupied territory to show that we don’t take orders from anyone,” the Sons of al-Zawari — a self-proclaimed “brigade” of Palestinian kite flyers — said in a Wednesday statement.
“We will continue our peaceful resistance until our demands is met and the siege lifted,” the group added. It went on to deny Israeli media reports that resistance movement Hamas, which has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007, had vowed to curtail the group’s activities. “These reports are completely false,” the group said. “The Palestinian factions will not stop us from waging peaceful resistance…The more they tighten the siege, the more fires we’ll set [inside Israel].” In recent weeks, Palestinian activists in Gaza have been flying flaming kites and balloons over Israeli territory as part of ongoing popular rallies along the Gaza-Israel security fence. According to Israeli officials, the improvised aerial weapons have caused numerous fires inside Israel, causing considerable material damage — in some cases — but no deaths or injuries. Since the rallies along the security fence first kicked off on Mar. 30, more than 130 Palestinian protesters have been killed — and thousands more injured — by Israeli army gunfire. Protesters demand the “right of return” to their homes and villages in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel. They also demand an end to Israel’s 11-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of basic commodities.


Don’t befriend me for a day, and leave me a month. Don’t get close to me if you’re going to leave. Don’t say what you don’t do. Be close or get away.
 لا تصاحبني يوماً .. لتهجرني شهراً ولا تقربني .. لتبعدني .. لا تقل ما لا تفعل كُن قريباً .. أو ابتعد.

Mahmoud Darwish.