- also included is Palestine Solidarity Campaign's recent statement on UK govt's role in crisis in West Bank, Gaza & East Jerusalem
- See also at foot of this posting the Joint Aid-Agency Press Release humanitarian
crisis facing Gaza from July 2006.
Yasser Nassar, who works for Oxfam on Water and Sanitation, wrote this
description on life in Gaza during the continuing Israeli military
operation to secure the release of an abducted Israeli soldier.
30 June 2006
I am writing this to you while I can. Someone has found diesel for the generator which supplies electricity to the Oxfam building so at least the computer works. Yesterday I tried to write to Oxfam about life in Gaza, but the power failed. The computer shut down and I spent the night with my wife and children on the floor of the Oxfam building
with Israeli jets howling overhead in the darkness. We barely slept. I made up stories in my head and told them to the children. It was impossible to get more than a few moments sleep because the jets create sonic booms, which sound like bombs going off.
The jets are howling overhead now as I write. I can hear explosions. I fear that many people will die. I've been outside and listened to the radio and watched local television when we had power. The Israeli air and ground strikes have knocked out bridges, roads, the main water carrier lines and power transformer stations. Offshore Israeli boats
are shelling areas close to the beach. I moved from my home to the Oxfam building in central Gaza City because I think it might be safer for me and my family. Some of the
neighbouring apartments are owned by U.N. staff and diplomats, and I think they might escape being hit.
One of the worst problems is the shortage of water. It just doesn't come out of the tap any more since the Israelis started bombing infrastructure. This means we have to buy bottled water or depend on wells, if they have escaped the bombing. It is really bad in the hospitals where the shortage of water is felt the most. That and the shortage of electricity and the power cuts mean the hospitals and clinics just cannot function as they should.
Things were getting tough before this military action. The decision by donors to cut off funding to punish Hamas meant no salaries were getting paid, and there was no money anywhere. Israel's on-off closure of the main crossing point for imports and exports meant that prices of essential things went out of reach. Most families I know are now
digging into stockpiles of food they have put aside for times like these. People are living on tinned goods and pasta and rice. The local markets are fast running out of things altogether. People are selling their possessions to get the money to buy what little is available that they can afford.
Daily essentials out of reach
Most basic goods in Gaza come from Israel so prices for daily essentials like sugar and wheat flour are out of reach for many. The poorest households, those that need things the most, are the ones least able to afford what they need to survive. There are at least
80,000 families in Gaza, or around half a million people, who are extremely poor, according to official figures. I can survive because I have a job. My family and I are among the lucky ones.
Most Oxfam projects in Gaza, which is home to 1.3 million people, have been interrupted because of lack of material and supplies in the local market. However, against all odds, Oxfam partners in Rafah are continuing to work to establish a water storage system there. But many other partners we work with cannot reach the places we want to supply water to, out of fear of Israeli military action.
But I can write this for now because the electricity is back. I do not know for how long. My family and I are OK. We pray that the current crisis will end and that Oxfam's humanitarian work can continue.
Palestine Solidarity Campaign on UK govt's role in crisis in West
Bank, Gaza & East Jerusalem
Date: 23 July 2007
PSC Statement: The British government's role in the current crisis.
This statement was discussed at the PSC branch forum on 23 July. PSC is urging all members to write to Gordon Brown as the new Prime Minister to ask him to act on the demands below.
The British government's role in the current crisis in West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem
Since the Palestinian parliamentary elections in January 2006, the British government has actively supported the policy of Israel and the US to overturn the results of a democratic and fair election by brutal and undemocratic means. The West, having demanded the Palestinian people hold elections, must respect their results. Palestinians have the right to elect their own representatives, and to form a government that reflects the results of those elections free from international intervention.
For over a year, the Israeli, US and UK siege of Palestinians, has collectively punished the Palestinians and attempted to starve them into submission. Israel blocks essential supplies from reaching the Gaza Strip, including food and medical supplies, and has bombed essential infrastructure including Gaza's only electrical station. A third of the elected members of the Palestinian Authority have been abducted and imprisoned by Israel. Weapons were provided by the US in preparing to militarily undermine the Palestinian Unity Government, which represented 96 per cent of the Palestinian electorate. And whilst the US, EU and Israel are talking about lifting the siege on
the West Bank, the suffocating siege on Gaza is intensifying, with military incursions, air strikes and threats to escalate this even further.
We are now seeing the fruits of that intervention. The United States has a long history of using all methods possible, including violent ones, to overthrow democratically elected governments of which it has not approved. The strategy of forcing Palestinians to live under occupation and destroying their democratic right to choose their own representatives is creating death, destruction and poverty.
Israel, with the acquiescence of the US, has destroyed the PA institutions developed under the leadership of secular national political figures since the Oslo Accords. It is now attempting to separate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank. This is a long-planned
strategy, currently being implemented to further fragment the people and land, and destroy hopes of a viable state of Palestine.
The British government must end its support for policies designed to overthrow democracy. Palestinians have the right to elect their own representatives, and to form a government that reflects the results of those elections free from international intervention.
The British government must:
# Immediately call for international support for the Palestinian power-sharing framework of the Mecca Agreement and a return to a unity government, based on the results of the January 2006 elections
# Demand that the blockade on all Occupied Palestinian Territories be lifted and freedom of movement guaranteed
# Reinstate funds and aid to Gaza and ensure there is no separation of the Gaza Strip from the West Bank and East Jerusalem
# Act to ensure Israel releases all elected Palestinian parliamentarians, and all other Palestinian political prisoners
Download the petition here: Petition to Gordon Brown in PDF:
PM Gordon Brown
10 Downing Street,
Via the website: www.number10.gov.uk
or fax: 020 7925 0918
PSC welcomes the UNISON vote in support of Palestinian rights and in
support for a campaign of boycott.
Wednesday 20th June 2007
You can view the full motion on the PSC Trade Unions Page:
To find out more about PSC and how to affiliate visit
www.palestinecampaign.org, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or
telephone 0207 700 6192.
Joint Agency Press Release - 11 July 2006
Aid agencies express concern about humanitarian crisis facing Gaza
Save the Children UK, Christian Aid and Oxfam International fear that escalating violence in Gaza will lead to a humanitarian crisis for over 1.3 million Palestinians.
Without electricity, following the military strike on Gaza's sole power station, three key sewage treatments plants are now out of action and over one hundred municipal water wells can no longer operate normally. The agencies warn of an increasing scarcity of
clean water, an increase in water -borne diseases from untreated sewage, and of a health system under extreme stress without stable power supplies.
Action must be taken by both Israel and the Palestinians to stop this deteriorating situation and bring a peaceful end to the crisis. All parties, including the international community, have a responsibility to protect civilians from violence.
The Government of Israel must end its continuing destruction of civilian infrastructure, including electrical generators and water pipelines necessary for survival and immediately restore supplies of food, medicine, electricity, fuel and water as well as opening the Karni crossing for goods. Palestinian armed groups must stop
indiscriminate attacks on Israel that harm civilians, including firing Qassam rockets into Israel. The international community also has a duty under international law to ensure the protection of all civilians.
Adam Leach, Regional Director from Oxfam said:
"Ordinary Palestinians are suffering from the destruction of bridges, water pipelines and electricity supplies - all things that civilians are entitled to and depend upon. Hundreds of thousands of people are without a regular supply of water. Many of our vital water projects had already been interrupted because of prolonged Israeli restrictions
stopping supplies entering Gaza. People's basic rights are being denied - this does nothing to secure a just and lasting peace in the region."
Mr Leach said: "The crisis comes as tens of thousands of families in Gaza and the West Bank are struggling to survive without an income because of the suspension of tax payments by the Government of Israel and aid by the international community to the Palestinian Authority."
Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive of Save the Children added:
"In May, Save the Children warned of a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza. Today we fear that the situation is sliding towards a humanitarian catastrophe. Children are suffering from acute anxiety and fear from ongoing Israeli military attacks and aerial bombardment. These attacks have also targeted civilian structures, including schools. Families, warned of new incursions, are already preparing to flee from targeted areas. Children as always are most affected."
Christian Aid works with local NGOs in Gaza and one of their partners, the Culture and Free Thought Association (CFTA) which works in Khan Younis, has warned how people are being affected living without water and electricity.
Majeda al Saqqa of CFTA said:
"Gaza is now very hot and humid with temperatures constantly over thirty degrees. Without power, people cannot pump water up to their flats. Old people cannot reach hospital if they live in high buildings. At least 200 surgical operations have been cancelled."
For further information and to arrange interviews please call:
William Bell, Christian Aid: 44 (0) 20 7523 2039 / (0) 7973 827 535
Shaista Aziz, Oxfam: 44 (0) 1865 473152 / 44 (0) 781 081 4980
Laura Conrad, Save the Children: 44 (0) 20 7012 6847