UN Coordinator in Gaza Calls to Lift Israeli Siege, Open Borders, Begin Reconstruction

GAZA, February 10, 2015 (WAFA) – The United Nations’ Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs in the Palestinian Territories, James Rowley Tuesday called for lifting the siege imposed by Israeli on the Gaza Strip, starting the reconstruction process to repair the destruction caused by the latest Israeli war as well as opening the Rafah border crossing.

Rowley said in a press conference held in al-Shifa hospital in Gaza city that the siege has greatly affected health and humanitarian Services and the blockade should be lifted to end the suffering of Gaza’s patients.

He demanded donor countries which pledged to reconstruct the war-weary Strip to fulfill its obligations. Rawley said the international community that pledged to fund the reconstruction process must meet its promises and turn them into commitments.

Israel and the Palestinian factions inked a ceasefire deal on August 26, ending the 2014 deadly Israeli onslaught on Gaza that claimed the lives of over 2,200 people, overwhelmingly civilians.

The ceasefire deal stipulated that Israel must ease the blockade imposed on the strip and the restrictions on the unilaterally-imposed fishing zone off Gaza’s coast.

Egyptain authorities are also closing the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt almost entirely and are only opening it for those deemed as humanitarian cases.

The most pressing key issue is the Gaza reconstruction. Whole neighborhoods across the strip have been flattened and reduced to rubble by Israeli airstrikes, leaving about 475,000 Palestinians refugees displaced for yet another time.

According to UN institutions’ statistics, around 15,000 Gaza refugees are still living in UN-run schools seven months after the end of the war, as they have no other choice after losing their residences.

Israel has however failed to adhere to its agreement, repeatedly violating the ceasefire deal through opening fire on Palestinian fishermen within the fishing zone and hindering the reconstruction process.

Continuing the Cairo-brokered talks on other key issues was repeatedly postponed in the wake of the November attacks against Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula.

Israel has imposed a tightened blockade since 2007 after Hamas won the democratic legislative elections and took over power in the strip.