July 9, 2010
Oxfam welcomes the Israeli government’s announcement that it will allow more items to enter Gaza. This is a step in the right direction. However, what Palestinians in Gaza need most is to rebuild their economy. This can be achieved only if it is possible for exports to leave Gaza – which can be done while ensuring respect for the legitimate security considerations of Israeli authorities. We are also concerned that the Israeli Government announcement does not allow imports of reconstruction material such as cement for the civilian population. Expanding the inflow of materials for civilian projects that are under international supervision (UN) is a positive step, but its ultimate impact will likely be reduced due to bureaucratic delays.There must also be mechanisms to allow for movement of people into and out of the Gaza Strip, including between Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory. We must not lose sight of the bigger picture. The blockade is a man-made crisis which condemns Palestinians in Gaza to poverty and deprives them of the possibility of giving their children hope – whether it be for greater educational opportunities or for a dignified future. At Oxfam, we see skilled Palestinians in Gaza asking to take part in our cash-for-work programmes because they have been unable to provide for their families since the beginning of the blockade. These are people who used to employ dozens of others on their fishing boats or in their small businesses. The blockade needs to be fully lifted to enable Palestinians to engage in productive, dignified work. That would help restore hope in the future for Gazans and it would be an important step on the road to peace.