Know More About Palestine

Sunday June 13, 2010 7:01 PM (EST+7)
Gaza plight a crisis with a difference

Read more: Gaza, blockade, siege, humanitarian crisis

RAMALLAH, June 13 (JMCC) - In the wake of Israel's deadly raid on the Freedom Flotilla the international community has put increased focus on Israel's blockade of the beleaguered Gaza Strip.

Israeli leaders have attempted to claim that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but professionals on the ground are quick to disagree, asserting that Gaza may not fit the typical mold of a crisis, but circumstances are dire nonetheless.

Look, it's not like sub-Saharan Africa, said Chris Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which assists Palestinian refugees. We are not talking about a natural disaster or famine caused by failed rains. But Gaza is a political crisis with grave human consequences.

So although some can argue that Gaza's mortality rates are steadily improving, others could note that more Gazans died during Israel's 22-day military assault 18 months ago than civilians were killed in Darfur during all of 2009.

Acute malnutrition in Gaza is well below the emergency threshold. But at the same time, a higher percentage of Gazans are dependent on food aid than is true of Somalis.

Health officials report no serious problems with cholera, measles or diarrhea, yet 90% of Gaza's water is so polluted that it's undrinkable, and on average two patients die every month waiting for Israeli permits to leave Gaza for treatment, according to the World Health Organization.

It's not the kind of disaster that you might see in other places, said Mahmud Daher, head of WHO's Gaza office. But it's always on the edge of a crisis. And without the help of the international community, it would be a crisis.

Passing through the half-mile Erez checkpoint and emerging into Gaza, the contrast could hardly be more stark. In Israel, there are shopping malls and traffic lights. In Gaza, donkey carts and herds of goats cross the road. Young boys pick through the debris of bombed-out buildings to salvage construction materials.

Read more at The Los Angeles Times...






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