Gaza blockade posing serious threats to economic, social and cultural rights
The ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip, together with political divisions in Palestine, are presenting substantial barriers to the ability of Palestinians to enjoy their economic, social and cultural rights, said a report published by Al Mezan Center for Human Rights. The report published in March 2017 documents the situation of economic, social and cultural rights in the Gaza Strip.
According to the report, human rights are threatened or have been intentionally violated as a result of the blockade. This has been exacerbated as an expression of punitive measures taken by the Palestinian Authority against the Hamas government in Gaza. These include decreasing funds dedicated to basic services and diminishing supplies of electricity, medical equipment and medications. Salaries of public sector employees have been cut and thousands omore have been forced into early retirement.
The right to work is severely affected, with unemployment reaching 46.6%. As in most cases, women are mostly affected by the situation. Unemployment amongst women in Gaza has exceeded 85%.
Many residents struggle to enjoy the right to health. According to the report, in 2017 alone, 54 patients seeking necessary medical care outside of Gaza have lost their lives due to the delay and/or rejection of their permits to exit the strip. Furthermore, hospitals and medical units in the Gaza strip have suffered from drug shortages more severe than any time in the past five years.
The blockade has resulted in the increase of sea water pollution, affecting 73% of coastal areas. to the water contamination threatens the health of children, leading to an 80% increase in cases of diarrhea amongst children below the age of three. In addition, 97% of underground water is deemed to no longer be drinkable.
Food in the Gaza strip is increasingly becoming insecure. This is exacerbated as a result to damage of agricultural land as a result of chemical sprays by Israeli forces. In addition, electricity shortages have led to a decrease in irrigation water. The overall situation has led to an increase in operational costs of food storage.
The right to education also continues to face serious challenges. The Gaza strip needs to build 142 new schools to cover for shortages in education spaces. Students at higher education institutions are struggling to cover the direct and indirect cost of their education.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights expects that this deterioration in the situation of economic, social and cultural rights will continue as far as the Israeli closure and blockade and the intra-Palestinian political divisions continue. These two factors result in serious human rights violations that have had devastating cumulative effects, leading to aggravated human suffering amid shrinking opportunities for amelioration and absence of political stability.
In light of the situation, Al Mezan highlights the need for immediate actions to improve the situation in the Gaza Strip. The report contains the following urgent demands:
- The international community must honor its moral and legal obligations by intervening swiftly and effectively to lift the closure and blockade and to pressure Israeli authorities to comply with rules of international humanitarian law and human rights law.
- The international community must foster international cooperation in resolving the complex problems faced by residents of the Gaza Strip. In engaging in humanitarian and development actions, which need to be multiplied rapidly, international community must reject the restrictions imposed by the Israeli closure, which could foil meaningful interventions.
- All Palestinian political powers must work together to end internal divisions and the duality in the political system. A comprehensive process of reconciliation involving all political powers and civil society must be supported to achieve unity, which is essential in preventing the collapse of the Gaza Strip.
- The remaining punitive measures introduced by the Palestinian Authority against the Gaza Strip in 2017 must be immediately removed. The national consensus government must be empowered to act upon its authority and responsibilities towards Gaza, and it should partner with all political, economic and social actors necessary to achieve this end.
For more information, http://mezan.org/en/post/22532
For the report in Arabic: http://mezan.org/uploads/files/1521613384492.pdf