For a year now, Palestinians in Gaza have been creatively and bravely protesting for their freedom by marching towards the fence with Israel to demand an end to the blockade of Gaza and respect for their rights.. In response, Israel has met unarmed civilians with live sniper-fire, killing over 200 and injuring tens of thousands, including paramedics, journalists, children, and people with disabilities. In total, 45 children have been killed.
When it convened in Geneva in March, the UN Human Rights Council condemned Israel’s “apparent intentional use of unlawful lethal and other excessive force” against protesters in Gaza. A commission of inquiry formed by the human rights council found that Israel’s use of lethal force against protesters warrants criminal investigation and prosecution and may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. The US must take these findings seriously and should take action to both hold Israel accountable for its actions and respond to the concerns of protesters, including by working to end the blockade.
These protests come in the context of a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza which has been made worse by cuts in US funding to Palestine. The lack of employment opportunities, power, clean water, and adequate medical care create a situation of despair and suffering in Gaza that contribute to long term instability and violence. Over 80% of the population of Gaza rely on international assistance to survive. Over 40% of the population is unemployed. Breakdown in the water and sanitation systems in Gaza increases the risk of a serious health crisis including the proliferation of cholera and other similar diseases which will not stop at the Gaza border.
In 2012 the UN warned that Gaza would be unlivable by 2020 without change. We are now only months away from that date and the situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate. To avoid a more severe crisis, change in policy is needed immediately but rather than working to ameliorate this situation US aid cuts and political support for the blockade have only made the situation worse.
Humanitarian assistance must never be politicized, and the US should immediately resume providing needs-based aid to Palestine.
After 12 years it is time to end the blockade. Israel has said that through the blockade it seeks to force political change in Gaza. However, after a decade with no political change and immense suffering, it should be clear that the blockade is failed policy.
The blockade is the source of the crisis in Gaza and ending the blockade is necessary for ending the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. But ending the blockade is not enough. There must also be accountability for both the blockade and violence against Palestinian civilians. Join us in calling on congress to change policy by resuming aid to Palestine and demanding an end to the blockade and accountability for violence against civilians by Israel.
Please contact your representatives in Washington, urging them to restore US funding for UNRWA and humanitarian assistance, to work to end the blockade of Gaza, and to insist upon accountability of Israel for violence used against Palestinian civilians there.