LUISA MORGANTINI MEP
Vice President of the European Parliament
Shameful humanitarian tragedy at Rafah - thousands of Palestinians stuck without humanitarian assistance
Rome, 28 June 2007
"While Israel carries on with its criminal air raids on the Gaza Strip, which have killed 14 people and injured about 50 people in the last two days, and Hamas persists with the rocket bombardments on Sderot, fortunately without victims, another shameful tragedy is taking place at Rafah", declared Luisa Morgantini, Vice President of the European Parliament.
"4000 Palestinians: elderly and ill people, children, women and men are currently stuck at the Rafah border crossing, the southern border of the Gaza strip with Egypt. They are waiting under the burning sun, 42 C° degrees, without money and with scarce water and food ".
These 4000 people do not receive any humanitarian aid, any assistance from international organizations or from the Egyptian government.
The hygienic and logistical situation is completely improper, especially considering that in the group there are a lot of ill people, who are coming back from Egyptian Hospitals, trying to go back to their homes.
Those who can afford it spend their nights in very expensive hotels, others are completely abandoned and they have not even the means to buy medicines.
After Israel's withdrawal from the Strip in September 2005, the border was controlled by the Palestinian National Authority with the support of about 70 European observers.
Since June 2006, when the Israeli soldier, Ghilad Shalit, was kidnapped in Gaza, Israel has authorised the opening of the border for only 74 days out of 365.
After the recent inter-Palestinian clashes, that have resulted in victory for Hamas in Gaza, Israel has decided to make the crisis even worse, through indiscriminate raids on the Strip and through the closure of the border crossing both for people and commercial goods.
"This situation has to stop, but Egypt declares itself ready to re-open the borders - the only way out to the rest of the world for the million and a half Palestinians living in Gaza -only when the Europeans in charge of supervision return.
Thus, completely ignoring, just like Israel or the international community, that there are thousands of people who live in desperate conditions for the last two weeks".
"I call on the European Union and the whole international community not to stay static in front of the Palestinian population which has been wounded for the hundredth time. I call on them to put pressure on the Israeli government instead, to immediately re-open all the border crossing points at the Gaza Strip, in which Palestinian civilians are arbitrarily and unilaterally imprisoned and forced to survive with no food, nor water and with a health service on the verge of collapse.
Finally, I believe that the endorsement of this appeal by the new elected Special Envoy of the Quartet, Tony Blair, would be a significant signal, a first step to give credibility to his role towards the Palestinian and Arab population, sceptical to the neutrality of one of the main promoters of the Iraqi disaster and strong supporter of an aggressive US foreign policy."
"The solution to the Palestinian tragedy, which is not just a humanitarian matter, lies in the end of the Israeli military occupation; nevertheless we must act now on daily living conditions", Luisa Morgantini concludes.