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Israeli Blockade Deepens Crisis in Gaza

In June 2007, after Hamas took control of Gaza, the Israeli authorities significantly intensified movement restrictions, effectively isolating the Gaza Strip from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and the world. As a result, the Gaza Strip has been referred to as the largest open-air prison. For the past sixteen years, the people in Gaza have been trapped in a distressing and unjust blockade, which has had overwhelming effects on all aspects of life.

The economic conditions have been dramatically impacted by Israel’s blockade. The Gaza Strip has experienced a sharp rise in unemployment and poverty rates, making it the worst period economically, especially due to the wars waged by the occupying forces.

Um Uday, a humanitarian relief worker from the Bedouin village in the northern Gaza Strip, has witnessed the suffering caused by the blockade firsthand. In her speech, she emphasized the dire situation faced by the people in her community, with a staggering unemployment rate of around 99% and a lack of basic infrastructure, including paved roads for mobility, sewage networks, and safe houses.

As unequivocal evidence of the siege’s severe psychological impact on the population, Um Adi said: “People here suffer from psychiatric illnesses, they have no idea how to behave with their children, most of their children on the streets, there is no care, there is no health care, people in winter suffer from the scourge of rain, extreme cold, and in summer they suffer from extreme heat.” She appealed to international institutions to find radical solutions for the problems resulting from the blockade, such as creating job opportunities and establishing psychosocial relief programs for children with serious diseases.

Similarly, Mahmoud Ali Abu Hassoun, a clothing salesman in the Nuseirat market, spoke about the catastrophic situation faced by the market. He described a significant recession, with sellers sitting at the doors of their shops, waiting for customers. Abu Hassoun explained that the dire economic situation has made people refrain from buying, leading to a stagnation in purchasing power. “Within a whole day I sell only one or two pieces of clothing because of the poor economic situation and the high prices of goods imported from abroad,” Hassoun said. He also highlighted the lack of job opportunities for youth due to the blockade imposed by Israel.


Blockade Strangles Access to Critical Medical Supplies and Treatment

The health situation in the Gaza Strip has been significantly impacted by Israel’s blockade, as it has posed numerous challenges to the operation of hospitals and health centers. Critics argue that Israel’s blockade aims to undermine the health and humanitarian system in Gaza.

According to Dr. Ashraf al-Qidra, the official spokesperson for the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the Israeli blockade has resulted in a severe shortage of essential medicines in the Gaza Strip. Reports suggest that up to 42% of vital medications, 30% of essential medical consumables, and 60% of laboratory supplies and blood banks have been affected by the blockade.

Moreover, the blockade has imposed restrictions on approximately 40% of Gaza’s patients seeking treatment at specialized hospitals in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank. The complex measures implemented by the Israeli authorities have made it difficult for these patients to access necessary healthcare services, leading to unfortunate casualties over the past years.

Dr. Al-Qidra has highlighted additional concerns, stating that the occupation prevents the introduction of medical devices and spare parts required for repairing inactivated medical equipment in Gaza’s hospitals. The blockade also obstructs the arrival of delegations, relief aid, and medical convoys to the Ministry of Health, further exacerbating the shortage of essential supplies.

Furthermore, Dr. Al-Qidra pointed out that the blockade deprives Gaza patients, particularly those requiring oncology treatments, of radiotherapy and atomic scanning. This situation has worsened the health conditions of over 9,000 oncology patients in Gaza who require ongoing treatments. Additionally, kidney patients in the region lack access to necessary treatments that are unavailable in the Gaza Strip. Patients with chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and various heart defects are also affected by the blockade.

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