By Christoph Koettl, the Project Manager for Amnesty International USA's Science for Human Rights Project.
The New York Times today published a major front page story on the daily life in Gaza. The story chronicles the adversity, disunity, and sheer loss that dominates daily life in Gaza, and the Times' website includes some very powerful images and video footage. Civilians in Gaza suffer from a complete lack of opportunities, high unemployment, and scarce resources, including water and electricity, the article concludes.
The article also claims that the root of the current suffering is the loss of opportunity and the inability of Palestinians in Gaza to produce for themselves. Since these options do not exist for Gazans, men stay home throughout the day, some taking sedatives to numb their loss, and women struggle to ease their husband's pain and fill their children's bellies. Despite international criticism over the Israeli blockade of Gaza and the international concern over the May 31st flotilla incident, the blockade has continued uninterrupted for three years, and the daily struggles and overwhelming despair of the Palestinian inhabitants of Gaza have been largely overlooked and misrepresented internationally.
We have repeatedly urged the U.S. government and international community to pressure Israel to lift the blockade. In fact, the recent "easing" of the blockade is not sufficient in adequately addressing the daily plight of Gazans. Israel's blockade of Gaza has left more than 1.4 million Palestinian men, women and children trapped in the Gaza Strip, four in five of which are dependent on humanitarian aid. As a form of collective punishment, Israel's continuing blockade of Gaza is a flagrant violation of international law. The blockade does not target armed groups -- who in the past have repeatedly launched indiscriminate attacks against civilians in southern Israel - but rather punishes Gaza's entire population by restricting the entry of food, medical supplies, educational equipment and building materials. Unsurprisingly, its impact falls most heavily on those most vulnerable among Gaza's people: children, the elderly and the sick. To end the suffering and restore opportunity and hope to the people of Gaza, a full lifting of the blockade is imperative.
Don't forget to watch the New York Times video from inside Gaza.
Then, urge the Obama Administration to advocate for a lifting of the blockade!