Calling for an end to the 15-year-old tragedy of the Gaza blockade, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor (Euro-Med) stressed that the existing arrangements for holding the Palestinian general election require serious international assurances that the blockade would end without conditions relevant to the outcome of the election.
The Euro-Med Monitor analyzed the consequences of the Israeli blockade on the lives of Gazans in its annual study on the impact of the Gaza blockade, entitled 'Suffocation and Isolation - 15 Years of Israel's Blockade on Gaza.
The report confirms that the per capita economic losses in Gaza have reached approximately $9,000 over the past decade as a result of the long-term closure and military operations to which the Gaza Strip is also subject.
A study released on 25 November 2020 by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) concluded that the economic cost of Israel's occupation of the Gaza Strip over the past decade is estimated at 16.7 billion per cent.
"Noura Erakat, Member of the Board of Trustees of Euro-Med Monitor, said, "We are now entering 2021, the fifteenth year of Israel's naval blockade and land siege, and the international community seems unfazed by the unlivable conditions in the tiny coastal enclave or by the fact that a whole generation has grown alienated from the world.
"These conditions are unconscionable and have no moral, legal, or policy justification. The siege must end without preconditions and condemned to the history of atrocities never to be repeated again." The study showed that the Gaza Strip unemployment rate is still among the highest in the world. In 2020, after reaching 23.6 percent in 2005, it reached 49 percent, while the per capita share of GDP shrank by 27%.
Poverty rates have also jumped from 40% in 2005 to 56% in 2020. The poverty gap has also risen from 14% to 20%, and the cost of raising the population of Gaza out of poverty has quadrupled, from $209 million to $838 million.
The study noted that the monthly rate of goods trucks entering the Gaza Strip in 2020 was approximately 7,000. Taking into account the growth in population since 2005 and the number of trucks joining that year, this number is not adequate for half of Gaza's needs.
Prior to the imposition of the blockade on the Gaza Strip, the monthly rate of Palestinians travelling via the Israel-run Erez crossing was about 30,000. The figure was about 14,960 travelers in 2019, while it fell to 4,600 cases in 2020, a drop of about 85 percent from the rate before the 2006 blockade.
As for the Rafah crossing bordering Egypt, the monthly peak of crossing travellers was approximately 12,172 cases in 2019, while the monthly average was just 4,245 cases in 2020.
The study indicated that the crossing work was primarily motivated by the Coronavirus outbreak. It was closed for extended days, with hundreds of thousands of patients, students and entrepreneurs waiting for the crossing to open.
As for the health sector, it remains the most affected sector, showing a strong indication that humanitarian conditions are worsening. Hospitals and primary care centers are also functioning at low levels of capacity, in addition to the acute shortage of medicines and medical devices. After the Coronavirus pandemic outbreak, the situation further deteriorated (COVID-19).
The ongoing plans for holding the Palestinian general election require local, regional and international mobility to put an end to the blockade, and promise that if it is lifted, it will not be repeated in the future, Euro-Med said.
A binding international resolution to end a blockade, which international legal references agree to constitute war crimes, is the best way to ensure the success of the upcoming elections.
Guarantees should be provided that the blockade will not be repeated (if it is over), that the will of the Palestinian voters will be respected, and that peaceful and democratic circulation will be ensured, the human rights organization requested, in a way that achieves stability and prosperity for the Palestinians.