While the 72-hour Gaza truce began, I arrived into Hebron, the city located in the occupied West Bank. I have read a lot about the historic center and day by day understood why it’s known as “the ghost town”. Hebron is a city where around 500 Israeli settler families live among 250,000 Palestinians. The presence of the settlers is protected by thousands of Israeli police and soldiers, while Palestinians who once lived there have abandoned their houses or still live facing every sort of movement harassment and restrictions.
Need is both immediate and long-term
Visiting the ActionAid oPt colleagues and offices located here, it’s more and more evident to my eyes that in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) humanitarian aid and development assistance alone – if not accompanied by campaigning efforts that aim to end the occupation – will not be enough to address the root causes of poverty and exclusion faced by the Palestinians. This is the reason why ActionAid’s work in oPt is focused on work that helps people in a way that respects their basic human rights for the long-term. Our humanitarian aid efforts in Gaza will combine addressing immediate need with longer term development.
ActionAid has joined humanitarian agencies in calling for ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, but sadly over the years these ceasefires have not lasted and we have had to revert back to life-saving relief and emergency programmes, aiding innocent people to cope with the trauma, and rebuilding Gaza time and time again.
Addressing the root cause of the problem
With almost 1900 people – the vast majority civilians – in Gaza killed by Israeli airstrikes and homes, schools, and water facilities damaged and destroyed, we have to face a dramatic situation. But we also know and we are convinced that unless the root cause of the conflict is addressed, there will be no long-term peace.
The people of Gaza have lived under Israeli occupation since 1967 and an economic blockade preventing the free movement of people and goods since 2007. As a result half of the people in Gaza have not got enough food and 80% are dependent on humanitarian aid. The blockade – which is illegal under international law – is having a devastating impact on the lives of the people of Gaza and should be immediately lifted.
Calling for an ever-lasting peaceful solution
That’s why ActionAid is calling on the international community to work for a just and lasting peaceful solution that will end the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the blockade of Gaza. The right to self-determination of the Palestinian people must be respected – they must be allowed to live free from discrimination and violence, to take control of their lives and determine their own future. Without this, the cycle of violence will continue.
To help please go to www.actionaid.org/gaza