Bethlehem – Ma’an – The UN relief agency UNRWA said on Tuesday that Gaza had been “bombed back, not to the Stone Age, but to the mud age,” because the agency was reduced to building houses out of mud due to Israel’s ban on construction materials entering the Strip.
“The Israeli blockade has meant that almost no reconstruction materials have been allowed to move into Gaza even though 60,000 homes were either damaged or completely destroyed. So we in UNRWA have been saying ‘let's lift this senseless blockage,’” UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness told UN Radio, according to the UN news service.
Israel’s three-week offensive on Gaza last December and January left more than 1,400 Palestinians, and 13 Israelis, dead.
One year after the war, thousands of buildings remain in ruins due to the ban on construction materials.
Also on Tuesday, the United Nation’s senior expert on Palestinian rights repeated a call for economic sanctions on Israel to force it to end its blockade of Gaza which has prevented recovery from last winter’s war.
“Obviously Israel does not respond to language of diplomacy, which has encouraged the lifting of the blockade and so what I am suggesting is that it has to be reinforced by a threat of adverse economic consequences for Israel,” Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, told UN Radio.
“That probably is something that is politically unlikely to happen, but unless it happens, it really does suggest that the United States and the Quartet and the EU don’t take these calls for lifting the blockade very seriously and are unaffected by Israel’s continuing defiance of those calls,” he said, referring to the diplomatic Quartet of the UN, EU, Russia and US.