Oxfam calls for an end to Gaza fighting
20 Jan 2008: Oxfam calls on the Government of Israel and on Palestinian armed groups to immediately cease violence directed against civilians. The escalation of Israeli military action and Palestinian rocket attacks is having devastating consequences for ordinary people.
Under international law, all parties have a responsibility to protect civilians. This includes allowing unimpeded access to Gaza for supplies to keep essential public services like electricity and water functioning.
The Government of Israel must ensure that essential fuel supplies flow through the oil pipeline immediately and without interruption. Gaza’s water network is at breaking point. Oxfam’s partner in Gaza, the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility, normally runs over 130 water wells, together with sewage treatment plants and other facilities. CMWU said on Sunday morning that water and sewage systems for one and a half million people in Gaza will stop unless fuel arrives by Tuesday.
Gaza’s electricity power plant has already run out of reserves of fuel. One turbine has been turned off and the final working turbine will have to be shut down today (Sunday) unless new supplies of oil are provided.
After six months of blockade by the Israeli government it is clear that this continuing act of collective punishment is ineffective as well as unlawful. It has not prevented the rocket and sniper attacks on Israeli civilians.
Barbara Stocking, Oxfam GB’s executive director, recently returned from inspecting Oxfam’s work in Gaza and the West Bank. She said “The violence of the past week is a mark of the shameful failure of all parties to take the peace process forward. Blame can be endlessly debated. What must stop now is the daily assault on the rights and the security of civilians, Palestinian or Israeli.
“The international community must take urgent steps to ensure that civilians are neither targeted by violence or sanctions.”