Call to end the isolation of the Gaza Strip

Call to end the isolation of the Gaza Strip

The political, economic and social isolation imposed on the occupied Gaza Strip violates international law and has dire consequences for future peace, development and security in the region.

The political, economic and social isolation imposed on the occupied Gaza Strip violates international law and has dire consequences for future peace, development and security in the region.

We, the undersigned development and human rights organisations urgently call for an end to the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, an end to the international isolation, and dialogue and reconciliation between Palestinian parties.  We also call for an end to 40 years of Israeli occupation in the interests of peace and justice for all.

“Gaza is a prison. There is no other way to describe it. 1.5 million people are trapped in Gaza and the result is violence. I’m not just talking about factional violence; domestic violence is also increasing.”
Women’s Affairs Centre, Gaza

“The separation between Gaza and the West Bank has to be resolved. Otherwise it kills any hope for a Palestinian state. The Gaza Strip is totally closed. There is no connection or access to the outside world.”
Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC), Gaza/West Bank

“This division is affecting all aspects of Palestinian society: economic, social and cultural as well as security and personal freedoms.”
Culture and Free Thought Association, Gaza

“Gaza alone without the West Bank cannot survive – it needs free borders and access. 1.5 million people cut off with no trade or water, it’s impossible.”
Palestinian Medical Relief Society, Gaza/West Bank

“How can Gaza be a normal place, how can we live a normal life here? Firstly there has to be free movement between Gaza and the West Bank and open access to the outside world.”
Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Gaza

Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem and its policies of closure and isolation has resulted in fragmentation across the occupied Palestinian territory.

Israel first imposed its closure policy on the Gaza Strip in 1991 as a form of collective punishment and control and since then it has had a steadily worsening impact on access to education, medical care, employment and the economy. Effectively imprisoned and with only a drip-feed of humanitarian aid, 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are now entirely cut off from the West Bank and the outside world, facing a life without the essential requirements for survival let alone development.

By sealing off the Gaza Strip, declaring it a hostile entity and threatening to cut fuel and electricity, Israel is retreating from its responsibilities as the occupying power. Not only does it make a mockery of international humanitarian law, the policy of collective punishment is only serving to deepen despair and frustration in Gaza. It does not provide security for either Israelis or Palestinians. Crucially, the security of one is indivisible from the security of the other.  

The international community has exacerbated this situation by further isolating Gaza and pursuing a ‘West Bank first’ approach to aid and diplomacy that abandons 1.5 million people to poverty. The violent collapse of the Palestinian national unity government in June 2007 and split between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank has further entrenched the isolation and separation of the Gaza Strip at the expense of an already impoverished population.

Continuing the isolation policy is illegal and will only lead to more suffering and take the whole region further away from peace.

  • The right to work and to an adequate standard of living: The economy has been decimated as 85% of manufacturing businesses in Gaza have closed down, over 70,000 workers have lost their jobs, imports and exports remain blocked and production has ground to a halt.
  • The right to health: Deteriorating conditions and a lack of medical supplies are diminishing the capacity of hospitals to treat patients in Gaza, while patients needing medical care unavailable in Gaza are frequently denied permits to leave.
  • The right to education: Students are prevented from studying at universities in the West Bank or abroad, while school textbooks cannot be printed due to lack of raw materials. The next generation is being held back which will have serious implications for future development.
  • The right to life: Isolating Gaza has not stopped Palestinian rocket attacks into Israel and the entire population of Gaza remains vulnerable to continuing Israeli military attacks. All civilians, Israeli and Palestinian, must be protected under international law.