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Gaza on the 61st Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

By Palestine Return Center, June 20, 2009

‘‘The situation in Gaza is often compared to that of a giant prison. This is hugely mistaken as prisoners in civilized societies are afforded three meals and do not live under constant insecurity.
The daily life in Gaza is worse than a prison as most Palestinians struggle to have two meals a day and are living hand to mouth. They are also under constant insecurity with no hope of respite. There is also severe shortage of every basic essential to rebuild life in Gaza’’
John Ging, Director of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza. (from his speech in a Workshop at the European Parliament April
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights marked a watershed moment in human history. It’s most fundamental principal was stated in its opening article in the following words; All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.(Article 1)
 Sixty One years on the auspicious moment has not heralded a life of peace and security and Gazans continue to face life that is nasty, brutish and short. Gazans are unable to expand their existence beyond the biological into political, social and more importantly to that of a human being.
Life in Gaza: Nasty Brutish and Short
 · A travesty of justice and human rights ensued after Palestinians democratically voted to end the corruption and impasse in the peace process by electing for change.
 · Up to now the Siege has meant a total blockade on Movements by air and sea, very limited Import of Construction Material, Medical Supplies, Import of Basic goods, All Export Banned.
 · The Siege compounded by the recent war has pushed 80% of the people of Gaza into poverty and 79% totally dependent on aid.
 · The daily life of Gazans is worse than a prison’ said the head of UNRWA in Gaza, ‘in Prison you are entitled to basic human rights and have access to food but the civilians of Gaza are barely subsisting and have no recourse to rights enshrined in international law ’.
 The Israeli War on Gaza
 · There were 1.5 million civilians who were unprotected for nearly a month as Israel bombarded the region. There was nowhere to go, no shelter no warning systems nowhere to flee as all borders were closed.
 · 1440 Palestinians died including 431 children and 114 Women.
 · Of the 5380 that were injured 1614 are permanently disabled.
 · The damage to the infrastructure was colossal.
· Preliminary results of United Nations surveys of the houses demolished during the military operation found that 52,400 families had homes that were demolished or damaged. Of these, 3,700 homes were completely demolished, 2,700 homes incurred major damages, and 46,000 homes were slightly damaged. Hundreds of families are sheltering in tents or living in damaged homes. Due to ongoing restrictions on the entry of essential construction materials, reconstruction or major repairs have yet to take place.
 · Citizens Action to Dismantle Nuclear Weapons Completely' has prepared a 33 page report showing the presence of tens of tons of depleted uranium in the Gaza Strip. The quantity of depleted uranium may amount to no less than 75 tons found in the soil and subsoil in the Gaza Strip," on May 25, 2009,
 Post War Aggression
 The unilateral ceasefire which ended the war has not diminished the misery as the siege and Israeli aggression continues.
 · On May 2009 Eight Palestinians including seven civilians were injured by Israeli air strikes in Gaza city. Homes and metal workshops were demolished and eight other houses sustained partial damages.
 · Israeli patrol boats opened fire on fishing boats and since the ceasefire Israeli military has reduced the fishing range allowed to Palestinian fisherman from six miles to three miles.
 · There have been six child fatalities from unexploded ordnance
(UXO) since the ceasefire implemented in the Gaza Strip on 18 January 2009. The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has identified
273 locations with UXO risks. A joint operational plan is being implemented by organizations including UNDP, UNMAS, UNICEF and several NGOs for the education of Gaza civil society on the risks and avoidance of unexploded ordnance. This week, a 12‐year‐old boy killed in Khan Younis while handling a UXO.
 · Meanwhile, although a delegation of Irish doctors was allowed into Gaza this week, a group of British medical personnel were refused entry to set up a cardiac surgery unit at al Shifa hospital in Gaza City, and are now staging a hunger strike at the border. (Palestine
 · 15 of Gaza's 27 hospitals suffered damage, 9 (Ministry of Health) MoH and 6 NGO hospitals, among them Al-Wafa rehabilitation hospital, which is Gaza's only rehabilitation hospital. (There are 12 MoH Hospitals in Gaza, all MoH hospitals have been partially damaged, except Beit Hanun, Nasser and Gaza Psychiatric Hospitals, which remained unaffected)
 · Out of the surveyed PHC facilities, 41 PHC clinics were partially damaged and 2 destroyed: 28 MoH clinics, 7 UNRWA, and 8 NGO.
 · Industrial fuel requirements for the operation of Gaza’s Power Plant are not met with only 70% of weekly requirements imported.
 · Cooking gas imported into Gaza through Nahal Oz are only 54% of Gaza’s weekly needs as estimated by the Gas Station Owners’
Association (GSOA); cooking gas consumption remains rationed in the Gaza Strip.
 · The GSOA also estimates that diesel and petrol enter through the Rafah‐Egypt border tunnels at a rate of nearly 100,000 litres of diesel and 70,000 litres of petrol per day. No petrol or diesel fuel has entered Gaza through the Nahal Oz fuel pipeline since 2 November 2008, except for limited quantities for UNRWA.
 · Eighty per cent (80%) of the water supplied in Gaza does not meet the WHO standards for drinking. The shortage of chlorine used to disinfect water following the tightening of the blockade has increased the risk of an outbreak of waterborne diseases.
 · Damage from the Israel’s “Cast Lead” operation has left 32,000 people without access to piped water. International NGOs have provided water tanks to these communities for domestic use
 · Health - The capacity of the health system has been significantly reduced due to the damage of at least 21 clinics. Ten primary health care clinics are functioning as emergency clinics and hospitals and intensive care units continue to treat the mass casualties.
 · Israel continues to restrict access of goods to and from the Gaza Strip. Essential items, including clothing, school textbooks, agricultural products, and construction materials needed to rebuild thousands of homes damaged during Israel’s “Cast Lead” military operation in Gaza, remain unavailable in the Gaza Strip.
 · 98% of Private Business closed, more than 100,000 jobs lost, shortage of medical supplies and other essentials.
 · A basic service such as water and sewage treatment and lack of garbage collection has caused major public health hazards.
 · Big Losses to agriculture and Fishery, cash shortage, Unemployment is 49%
 · Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: weekly report on occupied territory.
 · World Health Organization.
 · Disasters Emergency Committee.
 · Ministry of Health – Gaza.
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