It’s no secret that the residents of Gaza are suffering. Women, children, men, refugees, the elderly, the youth, the disabled–people from all walks of life face a similar daily struggle to survive. People can’t get food and electricity is scarce. Homes have been destroyed, as have the lives that once inhabited them.
A little more than a year following Israel’s latest assault on the Strip, it’s well-documented that the situation there is worse than it’s ever been. The statistics are staggering, and as the plight continues, the international community needs to be asking: what should be done in Gaza to stop the blatant violation of human rights and human dignity that’s currently the status quo? How do we stand up to injustice and fight for Gaza’s children to have opportunities to make a better future for themselves?
Although there may not be one catchall solution to such a multidimensional problem, one fact stands out clearly from the rubble: the illegal Israeli blockade on Gaza has caused much of the economic devastation and destitution of Palestine refugees within the Strip. In a recent report by the World Bank, the blockade was directly connected to high unemployment (a striking 43%, and 60% for youth), a decrease in output for the construction sector (by 83% in 2014) and a virtual disappearance of the export sector.
In today’s globalized world, it’s difficult for economies to survive without a connection to the outside world. The blockade prevents not only this critical economic connection but human connection–few of Gaza’s 1.8 million residents are allowed to travel freely outside of the Strip without hard-to-obtain permits. The Palestinians in Gaza are trapped, literally, within a situation that is extraordinarily dehumanizing.
Many have said that the status quo is unsustainable. But it’s time for the civil society of the international community–individuals committed to ensuring a just solution for Palestinians who have undergone years of suffering–to speak louder and call on Israel to end the blockade once and for all. We must speak with one voice and demand that human rights are respected and progress is allowed. Ending the blockade is the first step.
Sign UNRWA USA’s petition to #EndtheBlockade and share widely: https://www.change.org/p/demand-an-end-to-the-illegal-israeli-blockade-on-gaza-now