After six years of Israeli blockade, 1.7 million Palestinians continue to be trapped in the Gaza Strip, largely cut off from the outside world. One year since the ceasefire between the Government of Israel and Hamas, the promised economic improvements for people in Gaza have failed to materialize.
Although the last 12 months have been the quietest in 10 years in terms of safety, violations continue. At the same time, the commitment to facilitate the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza remains unfulfilled.
What Oxfam is doing
We have been working in Gaza for over 15 years. Our work in Gaza together with our partners includes:
- Building sustainable livelihoods for families through income generating projects;
- Supporting economic empowerment and participation of women;
- Improving water quality and public health in vulnerable neighborhoods;
- Helping farmers to increase productivity through land reclamation.
Besides supporting Palestinians in Gaza to cope with the poverty they currently experience, we are committed to helping find ways to end the blockade and occupation so that people can live with dignity with their rights upheld.
To this end, we continue to raise concerns with decision-makers and the wider public about the need for a lasting peace settlement, starting with an end to violence by all parties.
In response to the flooding caused by the December 2013 winter storms, we distributed blankets, mattresses and hygiene kits to some of the worst affected families -- see the photos.
The blockade has devastated Gaza’s economy, restricted freedom of movement, and has had severe negative impacts on the ability of ordinary people to access the essential services they need. The blockade is also increasing fragmentation and disrupting economic, social, and political ties between Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.
- Exports: In the first ten months of 2013 only 111 commercial export trucks left Gaza, compared to 254 in 2012. This year is set to be the lowest for exports since 2009.
- Imports: The Egyptian government has closed most of the tunnels that people used to bring in affordable food, fuel and construction materials.
- Agriculture and fishing: Access restrictions continue to have a devastating impact on livelihoods and the economy. Fishermen are prevented from going any further than six nautical miles off the coast, while farmers are not allowed to access much of the fertile land at the edge of the Gaza Strip.
- Employment: Unemployment in Gaza is expected to rise to over 40 percent by the end of the year. The construction sector, one of the few industries that had until now managed to grow under the blockade, is falling for the availability of construction materials has dropped to a third of pre-blockade levels.
- Infrastructure: With only about 40 percent of needed fuel currently entering Gaza daily, people are struggling to cope with worsening power shortages. Blackouts of 12-16 hours a day are restricting the provision of basic services.
- Aid: Over 80 percent of people in Gaza are now in need of humanitarian aid, and 65 percent of families are expected to be food insecure by the end of the year. Two thirds of Gaza’s population currently receives clean water supply only once every three to four days.
- Security: In the past year, Israel has carried out over 300 incidents of border and naval fire – half of them against fishermen at sea – and Palestinian factions have fired over 140 homemade rockets towards Israel.
The government of Israel needs to facilitate a consistent opening of the crossing to allow in essential humanitarian goods so we can keep helping people in need.
Reconciliation between Palestinian factions is urgently needed, but what Gaza needs more than anything else is long-term sustainable development.
Briefing note: Beyond Ceasefire: Ending the blockade of Gaza (December 2012)
Dream On: 5 Years Lost: Case studies looking back at life under blockade (June 2012, pdf 629kb)
Updated 20 December 2013