Timeline: the humanitarian impact of the Gaza blockade

2018 marks 51 years since the occupation of the Palestinian Territory and 11 years of the Gaza blockade. Both the occupation and the blockade affect every aspect of life for Palestinians – they dictate where they can live and study, and whom they can marry.

The blockade has devastated Gaza’s economy, caused widespread destruction and left most people largely cut off from the outside world. Today, one million Palestinians in Gaza don't have enough food to feed their families, despite receiving food assistance or other forms of support. 

How has the blockade been affecting Palestinians everyday's life? Check the timeline:

The blockade is still in placeTougher restrictions for accessing Gaza via Kerem Shalom, the main commercial crossing. As a consequence, really limited amount of fuel and cooking gas reaches hospitals, homes and business.Fishing zone reduced from 6 to 3 nautical miles (preventing fishermen from accessing 85% of the fishing waters agreed under the Oslo Accords).Almost half of the working-age population are unemployed

Aya, 27 years old, architect and designer - Innovation despite the blockade.

The lack of job opportunities and scarcity of resources caused by the blockade forced Aya to look for a sustainable solution where she can use her skills and build a business. She opened a carpentry workshop and developed an environmentally friendly method to create furniture by recycling used wood pallets.

 Aya, 27, is an architect and designer from Al-Zaytoon neighborhood,east of Gaza city. Credit: Lorenzo Tugnoli/Oxfam

“I used my designing skills to show people of Gaza that we can do something creative and create a lot of things from simple materials. I would like to open a very big factory and expand my business. But in order for that to happen, the economic situation needs to be good, and as long as we are under the blockade that is not going to happen”, Aya says. Photo credit: Lorenzo Tugnoli/Oxfam

2018In April, electricity supply is reduced from 8 to 4 hours per day, with a reduction to 2 hours threatened as of today96% water undrinkable

Less than 16% of items needed to construct vital water infrastructure are reaching Gaza

Now less than four percent of fresh water is drinkable and the surrounding sea is polluted by sewage. Yet the international community is failing to do enough to protect the health and dignity of almost 2 million people who have nowhere else to go.

“Our water is salty as if you are drinking from the sea,” says 50-year old Um Amir, a mother of 11 whose home accommodates an extended family of 20. Photo credit: Oxfam

42% Unemployment rate, one of the highest in the world

Business and livelihoods grind to a halt in Gaza

For Anwar, a carpenter, it means his business is on the brink of collapse. “My customers are just three percent of what I used to have, and the raw materials I can buy have increased in price by 380 percent. Twenty people live in my house, and they all depend on this workshop. Many of my customers can’t afford to pay me, and I then can’t pay my bills.”

“This blockade is my greatest concern. If there are no jobs for people here, there is no work for me.” Photo credit: Sami Alhaw/Oxfam


Life under siege: Tenth year of the Gaza blockade

Gaza is entering its 10th year of blockade. It has crippled its economic growth and the freedom of 1.8 million Palestinians living in the Strip. 80 per cent of the population rely on international humanitarian aid to survive.

Oxfam calls on all parties to the conflict to not allow another escalation in violence, to agree to a lasting ceasefire and an urgent end to the blockade.

Entry of cement suspended for several weeks (only 44% of cement needed for reconstruction reached Gaza)Fishing zone expanded for several weeks (within only 6 nautical miles)47% of Gaza’s population don’t have enough food

Oxfam delivers food vouchers

Oxfam, in partnership with the World Food Program, helps more than 71,000 people to access basic food items through an electronic voucher system. Oxfam also supports farmers and food processing enterprises through economic development projects.

“I totally depend on the electronic vouchers throughout the year, but especially during Ramadan. It allows me to purchase dairy, oils, legumes and many other important food items,” Mnwar says.“This voucher brings life to my family. In the holy month of Ramadan, I pray for all who are supporting us.” Photo credit: Riham Ghazali

2016Entry of building materials for reconstruction begins

More than three months since the ceasefire, the situation in Gaza remains desperate. Around 100,000 people - more than half of them children - are still displaced as their homes have been destroyed. Photo credit: Anas al Baba/Oxfam

Kerem Shalom crossing expanded, exports and imports restrictedViolent clashes near the fenceUp to 12-18 hours of electricity cuts every day

A lingering power crisis

Gaza’s electricity crisis worsened in 2014 after the major power plant was destroyed in the war. The crisis was tragically highlighted in 2016 when three small children were killed after the candle they were using set their bedroom alight.

“We have to use candles during electricity outages; we can’t afford to buy a battery. Recently my son lit a candle and left it burning,” mother of six Abeer Al Sawi said from her home in Sarwarka, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Gaza city. “Thank God I found it during the night.” Photo credit: Sami Alhaw/Oxfam

2015Egypt closes Rafah Crossing to movement of people, with exceptionsEscalation in hostilities: Operation “Protective Edge”

Palestinian kid, Sehed Saad Abu Hasna wounded by Israeli strikes on a refugee camp in Jebalia, taken to Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahia, Gaza on July 30, 2014.
Photo credit: Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

An entire generation of children in Gaza is growing up like Sehed - knowing little but airstrikes and destruction. The UN estimates that at least 360,000 children in Gaza will need psychosocial support to try and overcome the trauma.

Transfer of goods from Gaza to West Bank resumes2014Egypt closes Rafah Crossing to entry of commercial goodsEgypt launches military campaign to destroy tunnels2013Escalation in hostilities: Operation “Pillar of Defence”Fishing areas extended to 6 Nautical Miles, larger amounts of fish are found beyond 9 NM

Fishing under fire in Gaza

Since Israel imposed a blockade of Gaza in 2007 fishermen have only been allowed to fish just six nautical miles or less off shore. With most of the fish at least nine miles out at sea, they have already been struggling to make a living and now 90 percent of them need international aid. Oxfam worked to support fishermen with equipment and technical advice. Photo credit: David Levene/Oxfam

2012Israel closes Sufa CrossingIsrael closes Karni conveyor belt

Adnan "We are a family of 10 living in Gaza Strip. Our house was surrounded by Israeli tanks and soldiers during the 2008-2009 military operation and we had to flee.

I don’t have a job now. I used to work in Israel until 2003, when all Palestinian workers from Gaza were no longer allowed to enter Israel. In those days we used to live a good life. I had a good salary, I could build our house and set up my own family, but everything changed overnight. We had never thought we’d end up depending on humanitarian aid." Photo credit: Karl Schembri/Oxfam 

2011Egypt reopens Rafah CrossingIsrael eases import restrictionsIsrael intercepts flotilla headed to Gaza from TurkeyIsrael closes Nahal Oz Crossing2010Access to areas closer than 300m from the fence is prohibited (35% of farming land is located within the Access Restricted Area)

In Gaza, Israel’s occupation includes a 10-year land, air and sea blockade that has trapped almost two million people inside the 60-kilometre wall, isolating and depriving them of their rights.

“Because of the wall, there is no freedom at all, no liberty. Live has completely changed from what it was before. There is no peace of mind at all. I only think about keeping my children safe and out of harm’s way”, says widow and mother-of-seven Um Fadi. Photo credit: Simon Trépanier/Oxfam

2009Escalation in hostilities: Operation “Cast Lead”Fishing activities beyond 3NM prohibited

"My boat and nets were completely burnt. To make things worse, it was a new boat and I haven't paid the loan for it yet. It cost me around $10,000," say Sabri. "I’ ve been working as a fisherman for ever. Fishing is the only thing I know in life and it's been the sole source of income for me and the 16 members of my extended family." Photo credit: Oxfam

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Act now

Israel’s blockade of Gaza keeps people poor and denies them their rights. We are calling on all parties to the conflict to not allow another escalation in violence, to agree to a lasting ceasefire and an urgent end to the blockade.

Source: OCHA, Unispal and Gisha