UN Official: Israeli Economic Blockade of Gaza Not Good for Peace Talks

Click here: Voice of America News – UN Official: Israeli Economic Blockade of Gaza Not Good for Peace Talks

A senior United Nations official says Israel’s economic blockade of the Gaza Strip does not bode well for U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace talks expected later this year.  He appeals to Israel to lift restrictions on humanitarian supplies entering the Palestinian Territory.  Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, says the humanitarian situation in Gaza is worsening as restrictions on the entry of essential supplies tighten.  In July, he says Israel allowed more than 3,000 trucks loaded with basic supplies to cross into Gaza.  In September, only half that number got through.

…He says Gaza is running out of essential drugs.  In July, he says about 40 emergency patients each day were allowed to leave the territory for medical treatment in Israel.  In September, this number was reduced to less than five patients a day and medical supplies are running low.

“People are not dying of hunger at this moment,” Holmes said. “But, in terms of medical supplies, medical access, there certainly are people who are suffering, possibly dying…because of lack of drugs, because of lack of access outside Gaza to essential treatment, which do not exist inside Gaza.  But, in terms of a famine, no we are not there.  But, in terms of a serious humanitarian crisis – yes, we are there already.”

“One of the objectives of those discussions is to show that there is progress on the ground,” Holmes said. “If we look at the situation inside Gaza, but even inside the West Bank, it does not look as if that position is getting better.  It looks as if it is getting worse with all the dangers that entails of creating an isolated and radicalized population.”

Holmes says it is hard to see how this situation can be conducive to peace.  He urges Israel to lift the economic blockade against Gaza and to let humanitarian supplies flow into the territory.He says he understands and sympathizes with Israel’s desire to prevent terrorist rocket attacks from Gaza.  He says this is a legitimate demand.  But, he says collective punishment is neither the right nor the most effective response to those attacks.

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