Gaza's Economy Close to Collapse
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org - Home - Stephen Lendman)
Israel's suffocating blockade caused increasingly dire humanitarian conditions - grievously harming over two million Gazans, victims of ruthless persecution, worsened by Washington freezing half its aid for Palestinian refugees.
Major media ignore dire humanitarian conditions in the Strip, supporting Israeli viciousness instead of condemning it.
Gazans are without electricity 18 or more hours daily, its water unsafe to drink. Lack of sanitation harms human health, sewage disposed of offshore.
Food supplies are inadequate, vital medicines in short supply or unavailable, unemployment around 50%. Most available jobs don't pay a living wage because of blockade and other harsh conditions.
Three Israeli wars of aggression on Gaza since December 2008 devastated the Strip, another likely any time at Israel's discretion.
The Gisha Legal Center for Free Movement discussed 10 repressive Israeli policies imposed on Gaza last year, making dire conditions worse.
They corresponded with far fewer numbers of Gazans permitted to travel outside the Strip for urgently needed medical treatment, education and other reasons.
Below are Israeli restrictions imposed last year, maybe tougher ones coming:
1. "Security blocks restricting travel through Erez crossing:" They've been increasingly restrictive over the past few years.
2. "Trader permits cancelled and new approvals declined:" They've dropped by 85% since 2015, causing economic hardships, "undermining what little economic activity exists in the first place," Gisha explained.
3. "Cancellation of quota for Friday prayers in Jerusalem:" Travel permission was cancelled in December 2016.
4. "Making Gaza residents (permitted to travel abroad) sign a commitment not to return for a year:" Israeli obstacles imposed are part of an ethnic cleansing scheme, perhaps intending to prevent reentry at any time.
5. "Freeze on travel to the American consulate" in East Jerusalem: Last November, the ban was inadequately eased. The repressive policy remains largely in place.
6. "Introduction of shuttle services:" Gazans permitted to leave the Strip must travel between Erez crossing and the Allenby Bridge, connecting the West Bank with Jordan.
The policy restricts, hampers and discourages movement. Shuttles operate once weekly, waiting times for permission to use them much longer.
7. "Permit applications left pending with no response:" Thousands of application go unanswered. As of last September, 16,000 requests were pending - rejection by other means.
8. "New directive prohibiting Palestinians from exiting Gaza with food, toiletries or electronic devices:" All travelers need them, important for Gazans because of long travel times going anywhere outside the Strip.
9. "Lengthening of processing times on applications for permits:" They take two months or longer, Israel obstructing a procedure easy to permit smoothly.
10. "Increase in frequency and severity of 'security interviews' at Erez" crossing: All Palestinians permitted to travel outside the Strip endure grueling interrogations, their harshness toughened in recent years, making it harder to leave Gaza for any reasons.
Other restrictions were imposed last year, Gisha explained, including "a prohibition…on visits to prisoners allegedly affiliated with Hamas, fewer permits given as 'holiday gestures' during Eid al Adha and Christmas, extended closures of the crossings during Jewish holidays, and the closure of Erez as a punitive measure in response to rocket fire."
"While not all these tactics are new, we are concerned by the overall trend pointing to a severe and inexplicable tightening of the closure."
Israel imposed over 10 years of suffocating blockade for political, not security, reasons - the world community complicit for failing intervene responsibly to end it.
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