Friday, January 23, 2009

Israel: End the economic siege of Gaza

UN wants all Gaza borders opened
AP: UN humanitarian chief John Holmes said... a top priority will be to get all border crossings opened not only for food and medicine but for desperately needed construction materials which Israel has refused to allow in since June 2007. Holmes told reporters 'it's absolutely critical' that cement, pipes and other building materials are 'unbanned' by Israel and allowed into Gaza to start rebuilding the war-ravaged Palestinian territory. 'Otherwise, the reconstruction effort won't get off first base.'

Paul Woodward, War in Context: One of the primary causes of the war on Gaza was Israel's unwillingness to lift the siege. Hamas wasn't firing Qassams at Sderot in the hope of destroying Israel; its aim was to get a crippling economic embargo lifted. So when Obama calls for the borders to open 'to allow the flow of aid and commerce' he is posing a challenge to Israel.

AP/Patrick Cockburn: The rebuilding of Gaza after the Israeli bombardment already faces unique problems and is likely to be the most difficult reconstruction project in the world. This is because of the sheer scale of the devastation, the economic siege of the Palestinian enclave by Israel and Egypt, and the attempt to exclude Hamas, the elected rulers of Gaza, from any role in the rebuilding.

The difficulties are all the greater because of the destruction of much of the tunnel system linking Gaza to Egypt... The 'tunnel economy' has been the way in which food, fuel and everything else has reached Gaza since Israel and Egypt sealed off the Strip 18 months ago... Military supplies were always a very small part of Gaza's imports through the tunnels...

The Palestinian tunnels and the Israeli-Egyptian border closure were two issues at the centre of the war and their future is still unresolved. Until Gaza has continual access to the outside world, any real reconstruction will be impossible.
Image source here.