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UNRWA calls Gaza 'disaster area,' pleads for end to Israeli blockade
Published Saturday 14/12/2013 (updated) 15/12/2013 18:05
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BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness said that large regions of the Gaza Strip are a "disaster area" and called on the world community to lift the Israeli blockade in order to allow recovery efforts to proceed, in a statement sent to Ma'an.

"Large swathes of northern Gaza are a disaster area with water as far as the eye can see. Areas around Jabalia have become a massive lake with two meter high waters engulfing homes and stranding thousands," the statement read.

"Four thousand UNRWA workers are battling the floods and have evacuated hundreds of families to UNRWA facilities. Our sanitation, manintenance workers, social workers and medical staff have been working through the night and round the clock to assist the most vulnerable, the old, the sick, children and women," the statement continued.

"We have distributed five thousand of litres of fuel to local pumping stations, but the situation is dire and with the flood waters rising, the risk of water borne disease can only increase. This is a terrible situation which can only get worse before it gets better," it added, referring to major fuel shortages across the Gaza Strip that have dramatically worsened in the last few months.

Gunness also highlighted the need for an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip in order to allow the region recover from the current crisis.

"When all this is over, the world community needs to bring effective pressure to end the blockade of Gaza," he said.

"Any normal community would struggle to recover from this disaster. But a community that has been subjected to one of the longest blockades in human history, whose public health system has been destroyed and where the risk of disease was already rife, must be freed from these man made constraints to deal with the impact of a natural calamity such as this," the statement continued.

"And of course it is the most vulnerable, the women and children, the elderly who wil pay the highest price of failure to end the blockade."

The Gaza Strip is currently under a state of emergency due to severe weather conditions caused by a historic storm front moving south across the Levant.

Fuel shortages have caused daily life in the Gaza Strip to grind slowly to a halt since early November, as power plants and water pumps are forced to shut down, cutting off access to basic necessities for Gaza residents.

The Gaza Strip has been without a functioning power plant since the beginning of November, when the plant ran out of diesel fuel as a result of the tightening of a seven-year-long blockade imposed on the territory by Israel with Egyptian support.

The plant itself was only reopened last year after it was targeted by an Israeli airstrike in the 2006 assault on the Strip. The power plant generates around 30 percent of the Gaza Strip's electricity supply, while the rest comes from Israel and Egypt.

Until July of this year, the tunnels to Egypt provided a vital lifeline for the territory amidst the otherwise crippling Israeli blockade. The blockade has been in place since 2006, and it has limited imports and exports and led to a major economic decline and wide-reaching humanitarian crisis.

In the last year, however, the situation had greatly improved, as the tunnels to Egypt witnessed a brisk trade following the Egyptian Revolution.

Gaza Strip energy officials have blamed Egypt for destroying numerous tunnels linking the Gaza Strip and Egypt in recent months. They also blamed the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority for charging taxes on fuel too high for Gaza Strip authorities to afford.
1 ) Henrietta / Canada
14/12/2013 22:20
The Israelis have been sending in aid, medical equipment, diesel for the power station and emergency water pumps while UNRWA's Mr Chris Gunness was still asleep. Where is the Islamic Relief's emergency team, still finishing off that chillum.

2 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
14/12/2013 23:11
Funny. The one word that you would expect to see in this article doesn't appear at all. "Hamas" Nobody is desperate enough yet to "plead for and end to the Hamas blockade of peace talks". The one thing that could save Gaza is missing - Hamas negotiating for peace and thus ending the Egyptian-Israeli blockade and allowing Gaza to flourish. And, of course no mention of the Hamas/IJ attack on the fuel depot in which 2 Israelis were murdered. The UN continues to be the cause of Gaza suffering.

3 ) southparkbear / usa
14/12/2013 23:37
it's time to block this sob from crossing through israel. have him go through egypt. israel has been more helpful to gaza then the whole world combined. and the jerk still spews hatefull lies. when gaza agree to full cease fire things can change, until then by their own choice we are at war

4 ) Tibi / Tubas
14/12/2013 23:44
THE UN & UNRWA SHOULD "plead for end", and NOT PLEAD FOR A ONE-SIDED SOLUTION, where - Israel's ends the Nava blockade, but - Hamas prepares abduction attempts, and stock-piles rockets for firing at Israel.

5 ) Eldad / USA
15/12/2013 01:43
The Gaza power plant was not closed between 2006 and 2012, as your article says. It reopened in 2007 with an 80 MW capacity. See Gisha. Israel provided whatever fuel the PA and Gazans were willing to pay for. The Kerem Shalom crossing is not operating at close to capacity because there isn't enough demand from Gaza for products. Lifting the "blockade" will not help if no one is willing to pay for what is needed. Please stop reporting lies.

6 ) southparkbear / usa
15/12/2013 04:31
let's think for a moment.....nah. blockade stays

7 ) Harry / Argentina
15/12/2013 10:29
No one forced Israel to send fuel and heavy water pumping equipment into Gaza, certainly not UNWRA, Guness or the world community. Israel commenced the emergency aid transportations on Thursday.

8 ) What blockade??? / ISRAEL VACATED GAZA
15/12/2013 12:01
Israel has NO REPSONSIBILITY for an ARCH ENEMY who swears to EXTERMINATE HER!!!!!

9 ) Andy Gill / UK
15/12/2013 12:49
Why would Israel listen to UNRWA? UNRWA has consistently blamed Israel for the situation in the Gaza strip, cried wolf about humanitarian crises which never happened, and generally indulged in vicious anti-Israel propaganda. Israel should tell UNRWA to go screw itself, and come back when it is ready to stop peddling lies about Israel and telling the truth about Hamas.

10 ) Jacob O'Brien / USA
15/12/2013 13:20
Everyone keeps saying that Israel keeps sending all this aid to Gaza. Hmmm. And who is the source of these reports? ISRAEL. Israel would love everyone to believe they are the humanitarians of the planet, but the truth is, they want to cripple Gaza. If they had a decent bone in their collective bodies, they'd help the Palestinians instead of worrying about maintainining their superiority over them.

11 ) Lucy / Utopia
15/12/2013 14:01
It's crazy to read comments written by people who have time to write comments full of venom but no time to get some accurate and up-to-date information. What about the bombings in 2008-2009 ? What about the bombings in 2012 ? What about the destructions ? One step forward, 5 behind. It's easy to talk about "helping" a person duying from wounds the so-called "helping" hand killed ... Cynical

12 ) Dr H / USA
15/12/2013 14:02
I can't believe such callous comments. Countless innocent lives are at risk, and suffering is beyond imagination. In this country's we would close any farm or zoo that treated animals this cruelly, yet we stand by while human beings are deliberately made to suffer and die.

13 ) Gis?le / Suisse
15/12/2013 14:07
"All States are under an obligation not to recognize" an illegal situation "and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation" created by a breach of any articles(...)"all States parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 have in addition the obligation, while respecting the United Nations Charter and international law, to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law". ICJ

14 ) Sami / Bethlehem
15/12/2013 16:31
Most of the comments reflect the hypocrisy of the Western Countries that support the zionist state of Israel in murdering the children of Gaza and surround the town of Jesus (Bethlehem) with the apathied wall. however, I advice you all to go and read about Late Nilosn Mandella to be biased to humanity and peace rather than to the colonial state which lives on the rubble of the Palestinian people.

15 ) @ UNRWA / Pleadings
15/12/2013 17:10
THE ONLY SOLUTION to the situation imposed upon Gaza's civilian is 1- to remove Hamas, and other militant elements, by force, and 2- to install a Gaza government that prioritizes protecting civilians now, rather than maintaining a futile resistance of rocket attacks & abductions, which justifies both the closed borders with Israel & Egypt, and the internationally legal naval blockade imposed by Israel.

16 ) Mel / USA
15/12/2013 18:00
Don't sympathize with,or expect facts &humanity from Zionism!It's an evil pathology.Just sociopathic narcissism&cruelty rooted(as hardcore Nazis)inside deluded egoistic minds.Gunness is right.The CORE solution to Israel's collective punishment,cruel &unusual punishment(warcrimes)of 1.8 MILLION CIVILIAN men,women,children/babies,is for USG to END Israel's military occupation & land,sea,air blockade,& BOMBING,of Gaza's people,utilities,homes &HUMAN RIGHTS protected by INTERNATIONAL(not USG)LAWS!

17 ) Malone / Hfx
15/12/2013 18:05
The only reason the blockade exists is due to pal terrorism,if not for that,there wouldn't be one..really not that hard to figure out.

18 ) southparkbear / usa
15/12/2013 20:44
i am having hard time to decide what i like more, slapping the terrorists of gaza or saying no to unrwa. this time i lean toward the 2nd.

19 ) PalSol / UK
15/12/2013 21:35
Are all these pro-israel trolls paid to plaster their obnoxious and inhuman comments all over this website? Who ever is paying them should know - it only makes people who retain their humanity all the more certain as to Israel's true nature - racist, intolerant, cruel, vindictive and steeped in hate.

20 ) @ PalSol-19 / USA
16/12/2013 16:34
-1- Malone-17 is correct (terror caused the blockade).
-2- No one is "paid to plaster comments" that I know of, but
Muslims & Jewish individuals have as different views of truth & justice, as
Muslim Authorities in Gaza/Ramallah and the Jewish State of Israel, and
-3- Retaining a "certainty as to Israel's true nature" will lead to retaining what you call the "Occupation", by the Israel government that is
NEITHER "racist, intolerant, cruel, vindictive, NOR steeped in hate" !!!

21 ) @ PalSol-19 / USA
16/12/2013 16:39
If Israel were so "racist, intolerant, or cruel", then try explaining:
- Why allows anything at all into a Gaza that attacks and abducts, and
- Why it allow more than before, when Gaza's suffering increases ??

22 ) spb / us
21/12/2013 05:03
Give money for a good cause. Donate to western Negev sewage system

23 ) katertaif / U.K.
07/01/2014 13:51
Israel is so hate filled, it provides far more relief to the Palestinians than the immeasurably wealthy Muslim neighbours. What chance would Israel have without constant vigilance. Vigilance forced on them by the same peace loving countries. I assume the rockets filled with explosives fired at Israel almost daily are a demonstration of the peaceful nature of Hamas, who apparently have no need of peace talks.
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