Great Return March: Sign the petition and send a letter to your MP
On the 30th March 2018 Palestinians launched the “Great Return March”, a peaceful series of demonstrations reaffirming the Palestinian right of return – as enshrined by international law – and protesting against the inhumane living conditions caused by a decade long illegal blockade of Gaza.
The Israeli government responded to unarmed civilian protestors with violence, and has indicated it will continue using live ammunition against Palestinians exercising their right to demonstrate.
As of the 10th April 2018, at least 31 Palestinians have been killed, 1297 shot, and a further 1554 injured. With demonstrations set to continue up until the 15th May – to coincide with the 70thanniversary of the 1948 “Nakba” when Palestinians were expelled from their land – it is essential that the international community intervenes to prevent further massacres.
According to Human Rights Watch, “Israeli soldiers were not merely using excessive force, but were apparently acting on orders that all but ensured a bloody military response to the Palestinian demonstrations. The result was foreseeable deaths and injuries of demonstrators on the other side of a border who posed no imminent threat to life.” It is notable that there has not been a single Israeli casualty, and that Palestinians have refrained from escalating violence despite the attacks on them.
The targeting of civilians is a war crime, and there is now ample evidence of Israeli forces carrying out extrajudicial killings of unarmed demonstrators and even members of the press. Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman shockingly responded to this by claiming that there are “no innocent people in Gaza”.
The refusal of the Israeli government to investigate the use of lethal force against civilians demonstrates how little regard they have for Palestinian lives. Israel, as an occupying power, is legally responsible for the wellbeing of Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. Despite this, Israel have imposed a debilitating decade long siege on Gaza that has triggered major socio-economic and health crises. 80% of the population are dependent on humanitarian aid to survive, and 42% of essential medicines are currently at zero stock.
The UN warns that Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020 unless urgent action is taken. As it stands, 97% of the water is not safe for consumption and there are electrical blackouts for around 16 hours each day. Former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, stated that “the closure of Gaza suffocates its people… Its a collective punishment for which there must be accountability.”
In the face of ongoing Palestinian suffering, the UK government still continues to approve arms exports to Israel despite its own guidelines prohibiting any sales of weapons that risk being used in violation of international law.
We, the undersigned, therefore call upon the British government to fulfil its legal obligations as a third state actor in upholding international law. We call upon the government to:
– Support the UNs call for an independent and effective investigation into the use of lethal force by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians exercising their right to demonstrate.
– Take immediate action to end the siege of Gaza, which is illegal as a form of collective punishment.
– Ensure UK arms, finance, and trade are not used to support Israels unlawful actions.
(Send an email to your MP by entering your postcode, and automatically have your name added to the petition above)
Oxfam forced to suspend Ebola response in DR Congo following pre-election violence
Oxfam has been forced to suspend its work in the Ebola ravaged areas of Beni and Butembo, due to vio..
Oxfam has been forced to suspend its work in the Ebola ravaged areas of Beni and Butembo, due to violent protests following the announcement that people in these areas wont be able to cast their votes for a new president, when the rest of country goes to the polls this Sunday.
Raphael Mbuyi, Oxfams acting Country Director in the DRC said: “This is an extremely worrying situation, as every time the Ebola response has been suspended before weve seen a big spike in the number of new cases. This could mean Ebola spreading to even more people and potentially other countries in the region, putting many more lives at risk.
“However, its not surprising that people who have had their votes taken away at the last minute are frustrated and going to the streets. These people deserve to have their say as well.
“All parties need to find a way for people who have been devastated by Ebola and have lived through decades of violent conflict, to cast their vote.
“Whatever the outcome, there needs to be an end to the years of misery people in this country have had to endure. Just because elections are being held does not mean there will be peace.”
Notes to editors
Spokespeople available for interview in Kinshasa, DRC and in the UK.
For more information or to request an interview, contact email@example.com or call +44 (0)1865 472498.
For updates, please follow @Oxfam.
Gaza’s water crisis is ‘a ticking time bomb’
Reporter Sandy Tolan – In the Middle East’s Gaza Strip, a narrow piece of contested land where three..
Reporter Sandy Tolan – In the Middle East’s Gaza Strip, a narrow piece of contested land where three out of four people are refugees, unsafe drinking water has led to a worsening health crisis. Gazan children suffer from diarrhea, kidney disease, stunted growth and impaired IQ.
Twenty years ago, 85 percent of Gazas drinking wells were too contaminated for human consumption. Today, that figure is 97 percent.
Local tap water is too salty to drink because the aquifer below Gaza has been over-pumped so severely that seawater is flowing in. Two-thirds of Gazans get water delivered by truck. Desalinated water is pumped into rooftop tanks via hoses. But the desalinated water is unregulated and because this water has virtually no salt, its prone to fecal contamination. When children drink this water, they get diarrhea.
Repeated bouts of diarrhea can lead to stunting and developmental problems, including a measurable impact on IQ. Late last year a British medical journal found an “alarming magnitude”of stunting among Gazan children.
Children drink and fill water jugs at a mosque in Gaza City.
Credit: Abdel Kareem Hanna/The World
“If you really want to change the lives of people, you have to solve the water issue first,” says Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesperson for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. “Otherwise, you will see a huge collapse of everything in Gaza.”
“It’s a ticking time bomb,” agrees Gidon Bromberg, director of EcoPeace Middle East, based in Tel Aviv. “We have a situation where two million people no longer have access to potable groundwater. When people are drinking unhealthy water … disease is a direct consequence. Should pandemic disease break out in Gaza, people will simply start moving to the fences of Israel and Egypt, and they won’t be moving with stones or with rockets. Theyll be moving with empty buckets, desperately calling out for clean water.”
Assigning blame for the plight of Gazans is not exactly simple. Take the fact that only three percent of Gazas drinking water wells are actually drinkable. Is that because Gazas citrus farmers pumped too much? Or because Israeli agricultural settlers depleted a deep pocket of fresh water before they left Gaza in 2005? Or the simple fact that Gazas population quadrupled in a matter of weeks when towns and villages fell to Israel in 1948?
Food- and water-borne diseases have also been a concern — the power is shut off for 20 hours a day. Are Israel and Egypt to blame for withholding fuel deliveries? Or Israel, for bombing water and sewage infrastructure in Gaza during the 2014 war? Or the fight between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, which deprives Gazans of critical medicines? Israels economic blockade of Gaza contributes to worsening poverty, skyrocketing unemployment and child malnutrition, according to several human rights groups.
A peace deal could have connected Gaza to the West Bank, where the vast Mountain Aquifer is big enough to end Gazas water crisis. As it is, there is no peace. The two Palestinian territories are splintered. And Israel has effective control over all the water.
Critics say Israel could solve the whole problem by simply implementing power lines into Gaza. But Israeli officials say they are already sending water to Gaza and to do more would be rewarding Gazas bad actors.
“What’s going on in Gaza is a real catastrophe,” says Ori Shor, spokesperson of the Israeli Water Authority. “The situation there is unbearable. But it’s also frustrating, at least from our point of view, because it’s a bit difficult to help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves. The problem in Gaza is really that Hamas does nothing to try even to solve the problem.”
Shor says Israel is providing more than twice the amount of water they are obligated to provide based on current agreements. But that amount is just a fraction of the clean water Gazans need every day.
Fifteen members of the Nimnim family at home in the Beach refugee camp.
Credit: Abdel Kareem Hanna/The World
As the situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate, humanitarian groups estimate that Gaza will become uninhabitable by 2020 — barely a year from now. To avoid that, international relief agencies and the Palestinian Water Authority are working on a network of big sewage and desalination plants.
Donors have pledged $500 million to build out this network. But one large obstacle remains: On most days, Gaza has electricity for only four hours, which makes running these projects almost impossible.
“At this time, we dont have [enough electricity], but we hope,” says Kamal Abu Moammar, manager of the Southern Gaza Desalination Plant. “Many of our ministers say they will solve this problem. But we don’t know when. Or how.”