Maximum pressure needed from EU delegation to end Gaza onslaught

Published: 2nd January 2009

Agency refutes Israeli foreign minister’s view as sewage pours onto the streets

International aid agency Oxfam today called on the high level EU delegation expected to arrive in the Middle East Sunday to put maximum pressure on all parties for an immediate ceasefire and allow unimpeded humanitarian access to the besieged population of Gaza. The agency refuted the Israeli foreign minister’s view, expressed in Paris yesterday and widely reported in the media, that there is not a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza strip.Oxfam International said the humanitarian crisis gets worse by the day. Hospitals are overwhelmed with casualties. Raw sewage pours into the streets in Beit Hanoun, a town of over 20,000 inhabitants. The water authority has only a couple of days’ stock of fuel and chlorine. Water supplies are being restricted in many areas to a few hours a week. Food and fuel are also becoming ever more scarce and there are queues of up to 300 meters long at some bakeries. “The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is only set to get worse while food and fuel shortages continue. The risk to public health increases with shortages of chlorine to treat water and raw sewage spilling into the streets in Beit Hanoun.“The time for kid-glove diplomacy has long gone. The EU has to put the maximum pressure on all parties to agree an immediate and lasting ceasefire, allow unimpeded humanitarian access and restart the search for a peaceful solution,” said Jeremy Hobbs, Oxfam International’s  Executive Director. Oxfam has had to suspend much of its work in Gaza which was reaching 65,000 people.The agency is calling on the EU delegation to put maximum pressure on all sides to end the violence immediately. It says that Israeli bombing is excessive and Hamas’ rocket fire indiscriminate and neither party is respecting international humanitarian law.It is also calling for a binding UN Security Council resolution to demand an immediate halt to violence in Gaza and Israel by all parties, call on all parties to commit to a comprehensive and permanent truce, and demand that Israel allow – and Hamas or other parties not block – immediate access to and from Gaza for humanitarian and commercial goods and for people by ending the blockade.

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is only set to get worse while food and fuel shortages continue.
Jeremy Hobbs
Executive Director of Oxfam International