22 January, 2008

Press Statement


"Tightened Siege on Gaza Reaches Unprecedented Levels and

Endangers the Life of 1.5 Million Civilians"


Israel has imposed a severe siege on the Gaza Strip since Hamas' winning of the parliamentary elections in January, 2006. Furthermore, Israel has tightened this siege following Hamas military domination over the Gaza Strip in June, 2007 when Israel declared that the Gaza Strip is an enemy entity.


Two weeks ago, Israel has tightened the siege and embargo imposed on the Gaza Strip reaching unprecedented levels. This action included various sanctions such as: cut-off fuel and electricity provisions to Gaza as well as all other energy resources. Israel has also imposed strict closure on all Gaza Strip border crossings, preventing movement of civilians including patients' for medical services. Such procedures led to entire shut-down of the sole energy producing station in the Gaza Strip, two days ago. As a consequence, Gaza is drowning in darkness whereas electricity from all homes, industrial, and health facilities in the Gaza Strip was cut-off entirely.


The electricity cut-off, therefore, has paralyzed all aspects of life in the Gaza Strip as water supply couldn’t reach the homes of Palestinians; elevators in the high-rise towers have not functioned properly; and household electrical instruments have been shut down completely. Nonetheless, what is more critical is the water and sewage systems are about to shut down in addition to electricity generators in major hospitals and sanitation vehicles. All such matters warn of a humanitarian, health and environmental crisis.


Due to the denial of deliveries of vital supplies of food, fuel and humanitarian aids to the Gaza Strip, there has been a crisis in obtaining necessary food supplies for the people in Gaza. This situation added to the already existing crisis due to the fact that 85% of the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip depends mainly on the humanitarian aids for securing their basic needs of survival. Furthermore, the stoppage of electricity and fuel as well as flour cut-off have caused even more paralysis in the bakeries in the Gaza Strip, thus preventing the Palestinians from receiving their necessary needs of bread. 


All forms and consequences of the siege imposed by Israel aggravate the Palestinians' sufferings in Gaza Strip, coinciding with the economic crisis and high rate of poverty and unemployment. The new procedures of siege have led to significant rise of burdens on the Palestinian civilians and families, as well as an emergence of a new wave of feelings of panic, anger, suppression and helplessness. As a result, the psychological sufferings of people are intensifying in the presence of the economic hardships.


Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP) is gravely concerned over the continuation of the tightened siege and isolating Gaza from the outside world. Further, GCMHP warns against the critical humanitarian, health and mental ramifications of this siege on the civilians which threaten their life and significantly deepen their suffering. Such consequences are becoming more apparent as reports warning of the death of patients in intensive care units and deterioration of the health conditions of chronic disease patients including cancer and kidney failure.


In this critical time, GCMHP calls upon the international community, human rights organizations and all peace activists around the world to hold their moral and legal responsibilities to end the Israeli inhumane siege and its repercussions that reach the levels of war crimes. Additionally, GCMHP demands the international community not to remain silent towards the Israeli crimes and to immediately intervene and pressure Israel to end its siege and collective punishment imposed on the Gaza Strip that threatens the life of 1.5 million innocent civilians.



Gaza Community Mental Health Programme