Failing Gaza: No rebuilding, no recovery, no more excuses

Almost a year after violence tore Gaza and touched Israel, international aid agencies report that "little of the extensive damage" that Operation Cast Lead "caused to homes, civilian infrastructure, public services, farms and businesses has been repaired. As thousands of families still come to terms with loss or injury of their loved ones, they are being prevented from rebuilding their shattered society."

The aid agencies hold Israel and the world community responsible for the situation. They also make recommendations for actions that Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, and other Palestinian armed factions need to take.

The report notes that the blockade imposed by the Israeli government in 2007 after Hamas took control of Gaza, not only "forbids most Gazans from leaving or exporting anything to the outside world, but also only permits the import of a narrowly-restricted number of basic humanitarian goods. Desperately-needed reconstruction materials are not counted amongst these."

They note that the community is responsible for failing to address the issue of the blockade effectively. As Oxfam's director, Jeremy Hobbs says that "world powers have failed and betrayed Gaza's ordinary citizens." The report calls for the world community to work to end the blockade and to ensure full and sustained opening of the crossings.

The report of the aid agencies also states that:

"Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups must maintain their current de facto cessation of violence and permanently cease all indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel from Gaza.

"All Palestinian factions need to intensify their reconciliation dialogue to pave the way for a reunified Palestinian government able to effectively provide for the needs of its civilian population. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas need to do all they can to support and facilitate access to Gaza within the constraints set by the blockade."

Over thirteen hundred people from 43 countries will be en route to Egypt and Israel to participate in the Gaza Freedom March on December 31. This nonviolent witness will bring the call to lift the blockade on Gaza.

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