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UN envoy calls on Fatah, Hamas, to reconcile to end Gaza’s suffering

July 26, 2017 5:16 P.M. (Updated: July 26, 2017 6:59 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- After a recent United Nations report warned that the Gaza Strip had become “unlivable,” UN envoy for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov reiterated urgent warnings about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the besieged coastal enclave.

Addressing the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, Mladenov deplored that Gaza’s two million residents “have been taken hostage in the political standoff between Fatah and Hamas.”

The Fatah-led PA has been accused of deliberately sending the impoverished Gaza Strip further into a humanitarian catastrophe in order to wrestle control of the territory from Hamas, by slashing funding for Israeli fuel, medicine, and salaries for civil servants and former prisoners.

Hamas authorities have also been accused of withholding funds collected in Gaza from the PA, as well as targeting Fatah officials in Gaza through detentions and restricting their freedom of movement, recently preventing a Fatah Central Committee member from leaving the besieged territory.

Meanwhile, Israel, has continued to enforce a ten-year blockade on the small Palestinian territory, widely considered by human rights groups to be the main source of Gaza’s woes, despite the escalating intra-Palestinian political conflict.

In recent days, rights groups have highlighted the effect the blockade has had on female cancer patients, who cannot receive adequate treatment in Gaza and also also prevented from leaving for treatment abroad, and as well as on young music students who were recenlty denied exit permits participate in a music workshop and concert tour.

“The humanitarian impact of the punishing measures taken against Gaza is appalling,” the UN envoy said, highlighting that as a result of the deepening electricity crisis, some parts of the enclave have been forced to cope with power cuts as long as 36 hours.

“No electricity means no drinking water. Hospitals are struggling to survive. An environmental crisis is in the making. Whatever the political differences between the Palestinian factions, it is not the people of Gaza who should be paying the price,” Mladenov said.

He said that the UN “would not give up on Gaza on its people” and would continue to “intense mediation efforts to resolve the standoff.”

He also lauded the Egyptian government for facilitating the entry of fuel, purchased by Hamas, that has somewhat helped ease the electricity crisis after Israeli fuel was cut by some 60 percent at the request of the PA.

The UN envoy called on Palestinian leaders to reconcile and hold national elections, and also slammed Hamas for its suppression of dissent in Gaza since it seized control over the territory after winning elections in 2006.

While other UN officials have also characterized the ever-worsening crisis in Gaza as “an internal Palestinian dispute,” rights groups have placed the bulk of the blame on the Israeli siege.

Israeli NGO B’Tselem blamed the blockade for putting Gaza “in the throes of a humanitarian disaster,” adding that Israel was “consigning (Gaza’s) residents to living in abject poverty under practically inhuman conditions unparalleled in the modern world.”

“This is not some sort of natural disaster,” B’Tselem added. “Had that been the case, Israel would have likely sent in a humanitarian aid mission. Instead, the reality in Gaza is the result of Israel’s handiwork, achieved by its decade-long implementation of a brutal policy.”
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