On April 13th, 2015 AFSC and 45 other organizations jointly released the titled “Charting a New Course: Overcoming the stalemate in Gaza”. Produced by the Association of International Development Agencies in Jerusalem, the report details the humanitarian impact that repeated attacks and Israel’s siege have had on Gaza.
The report outlines how the ceasefire that ended Israel’s attacks last summer has not resulted in change on the ground. The blockade remains firmly in place with movement of both people and goods into and out of Gaza severely limited. Despite donor pledges for assistance, only 22.5 percent of money for Gaza reconstruction has been released. However, the release of funds does not mean that work has started as materials needed to start reconstruction work cannot reach Gaza. Not one of the 19,000 homes destroyed during the attacks last summer has been rebuilt and nearly 100,000 people remain homeless.
The ceasefire also has not stopped violence. The report notes that since the end of attacks last summer there have been more than 400 instances of Israeli fire into Gaza. During same period 4 rockets have been fired by Palestinians into Israel causing no damage.
Agencies who have signed the report are calling for accountability and a new international approach to Gaza. We demand an immediate end to the Gaza blockade which, under international law amounts to collective punishment, the reestablishment of direct links between Gaza and the West Bank, prioritization of depoliticized assistance to those in need in Gaza, and international accountability for past and present violations of international law. The report notes that without a change in the paradigms that have governed Israeli and international policies towards Gaza future violence is inevitable.
It further highlights the role of the international community in supporting the current status quo and separation between the West Bank and Gaza. The current Gaza blockade has been implemented with the full support and acquiescence of the international community and, particularly, the Quartet. In addition, the international community is failing its third party obligation to hold Israel accountable for violations of international law.
AFSC supports the report in as far as it goes and hopes that it will help push forward shifts in international policy.
However, as we share this report about Gaza we also believe that it is important to place the report in a broader context. Ending the blockade, facilitating reconstruction, building Palestinian unity, holding accountable those who violate international law, and pushing forward Palestinian political unity are all important steps towards change but do not address the real core of the conflict. As per the current political divisions within Palestinian factions, these have been encouraged and exacerbated by an international community that has prioritized Israel’s security over the resolution of the conflict based on justice and accountability.
As noted in AFSC’s July 2014 release Ending Oppression to End Violence, real change will only come if we acknowledge, examine, and address the roots of the conflict. The blockade, the separation of Palestinians, and ongoing violence are not the roots of the conflict but rather the symptoms of a larger problem which is rooted in the history of Palestinian displacement and dispossession and the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territories. As per the current political divisions between Palestinian factions, the status quo of occupation and ethnic separation has been allowed to continue through the complicity of the international community which has prioritized Israel’s security over the resolution of the conflict based on justice and accountability.
Ending the blockade is essential for ending suffering, but to end the conflict and bring change the deeper issues of injustice and systematic discrimination don to Palestinians must be acknowledged and addressed. Only then will a just and lasting peace based on equality, freedom, and justice be achieved for both Palestinians and Israelis.