UN official says Israel's siege of Gaza breeds extremism and
By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem
Independent" -- - A senior United Nations official
has issued an unprecedented appeal to British MPs to use their
influence to try to alleviate the impact of "indiscriminate" and
"illegal" Israeli sanctions in Gaza which display "profound
inhumanity" and are "serving the agenda of extremists".
In one of the strongest attacks on recent Israeli strategy
issued by a senior international official, John Ging, Gaza's
director of operations for the refugee agency UNRWA, said that
"crushing sanctions" imposed since the Israeli cabinet declared
the Strip a "hostile entity" in September had contributed to
"truly appalling living conditions."
Mr Ging said the measures had been justified as protection from
what he fully acknowledged were rocket attacks "terrorising" the
Israeli civilian population within range. The rockets have
killed two people this year and injured 99 others. But citing
cuts in fuel and planned cuts in electricity along with closures
which have had "an atrocious" impact on Palestinian medical
care, "destroyed" Gaza's economy and threatened already "Third
World" water and sanitation, he told the Britain-Palestine group
of MPs: "This presupposes that the civilian population are
somehow more capable of stopping the rocket fire than the
powerful military of the occupying power.
"My message ... is that not only are these sanctions not
working, but because of their profound inhumanity, they are
counterproductive to their stated purpose and while Gaza is not
yet an entity populated by people hostile to their neighbour, it
inevitably will be if the current approach of collective
punitive sanctions continues."
Mr Ging, whose agency is responsible for 70 per cent of Gaza's
1.5 million population, said that over the past two years "every
hopeful opportunity has been irrationally dashed and followed by
even worse circumstances". He added that Gaza's civilian
population expected more of Israel and the international
community, who regularly expressed concern about their
humanitarian plight but "to no avail".
Mr Ging, whose message is reinforced by a letter warning of the
"increasingly desperate situation" in Gaza from major aid
agencies in today's Independent, said 649 Palestinians had been
killed this year, including 63 children. The figure includes
more than 330 killed in internal fighting.
Mr Ging added that UNRWA was unable to provide more than 61 per
cent of the necessary calories to refugees. "At present we do
not have sufficient funding to provide just one high nutrient
biscuit to 200,000 children in UN schools."
Israeli officials cite signs of a decline in Hamas's popularity
as evidence that the sanctions are working. But Mr Ging said the
"human suffering and misery for the entire civilian population
in Gaza was creating fertile ground for the extremists".
The Israeli branch of Physicians for Human Rights says that 11
patients have died since last month because their treatment was
blocked or delayed. At least 800 more are being denied treatment
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