News Release

UN Group: Israel Should Fully Lift Gaza Blockade


Reuters is reporting: “Nothing short of the full lifting of Israel’s blockade on Gaza would allow the territory to be rebuilt, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees said on Monday, a day after Israel said it would ease its siege. …

“‘We need to have the blockade fully lifted,’ said spokesman Christopher Gunness of UNRWA, the United Nations relief agency that looks after Palestinian refugees. He spoke to Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in Cairo.

“‘The Israeli strategy is to make the international community talk about a bag of cement here, a project there. We need full unfettered access through all the crossings.'”

Shawa is coordinator of PNGO, the Palestinian NGO Network in Gaza. He said today: “This step of easing the siege doesn’t fulfill our basic rights of free access for individuals and goods — it will not solve the basic humanitarian conditions. For example, in the industrial sector — we had 4,000 factories in Gaza — things have come to a halt because of the siege. This doesn’t change that. This easing of the siege will not help the 3,500 fishermen to fish. Israel allows only three miles for fishing, a violation of the Oslo agreement, which gave 20 miles. Farmers are not allowed to export their products — not even to the West Bank. They used to export their strawberries and carnations to Europe.

“This easing of the siege is an attempt at legitimizing the siege. Israel is trying to put in a ‘smart siege’ that will go on and on. But having free access is not a gift from Israel — it’s a basic human right. Israel is making a show for the international community, but it should actually lift the siege.

“Further, it’s not clear what Israel is proposing with this ‘easing’ in terms of health infrastructure, water infrastructure and destroyed houses.”

The Oakland Tribune is reporting: “Hundreds of peace activists prevented the unloading of an Israeli ship at the Port of Oakland Sunday by forming a picket line. Organizers said their goal was to delay the ship’s unloading for 24 hours in protest of the Israeli military’s May 31 open-seas raid on a humanitarian aid flotilla that had been bringing goods to Gaza. … The longshoremen’s union largely cooperated with the picket line. No workers tried to cross it.”

Agre is with the Middle East Children’s Alliance, was at the protest on Sunday and is in regular contact with people in Gaza.

Background: While backers of Israel’s Gaza policy frequently claim security for Israel as the reason for the siege of Gaza, Sen. Charles Schumer stated recently that the real reason is a political goal. For text and video, see: “Schumer Says It ‘Makes Sense’ To ‘Strangle [Gaza] Economically’ Until It Votes The Way Israel Wants

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167