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Closed petition Call for an immediate end to the Israeli blockade on the people of Gaza

COVID-19 is uniquely threatening to the people of Gaza. The 1.8 million Palestinians cannot safely self-isolate – there simply isn't space – and no one can leave the region.

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On top of that, Israel has not allowed sufficient medical supplies, including tests, to enter. It's a catastrophe waiting to happen.

Gaza has already reported its first cases of COVID-19 and after 13 years of conflict and blockade, Palestinians in Gaza face a severe shortage of resources and medical personnel. Health officials warn that containment and treatment under the Israeli blockade will be nearly impossible.

Together we demand that Parliament call on Israel to end the blockade NOW, before more life is needlessly lost.

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

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Government responded

This response was given on 8 September 2020

The UK will continue to push for an easing of restrictions in Gaza to address the humanitarian situation and improve the lives of the people of Gaza.

Read the response in full

The UK Government remains deeply concerned by the situation in Gaza. We fully respect Israel’s right to security, but recognise that the situation in Gaza is unsustainable. Our Embassy in Tel Aviv and our Consulate-General in Jerusalem frequently urge the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to take steps to improve conditions in Gaza, including easing movement and access restrictions. We have also encouraged Egypt to show maximum flexibility on opening the Rafah crossing.

Gaza sees recurrent escalations of violence, severe access and movement restrictions, entrenched internal Palestinian divisions, high rates of poverty, food insecurity and unemployment. Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly half the population (46%) lived below the US $5.5 poverty line, 1.3 million (two thirds of the population) needed food aid and 45% of the working population were unemployed, rising to two thirds of young people and women. A widespread COVID-19 outbreak will make this situation far worse.

We welcome the agreement reached on 31 August 2020 which has restored a degree of calm in Gaza and led Israel to lift its ban on fuel and goods imports to Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing. We also welcome Israel’s agreement to restore the Gazan fishing zone (up to a limit of 15 nautical miles from Gaza’s coast). We want to see Israel go further. The fishing zone must be extended further, in line with the limit of 20 nautical miles stipulated in the Oslo accords. Israel should reduce trade, movement and access restrictions, including to enable Gazans to enjoy electricity around the clock. Stable and sustained power supply is vital for hospitals, quarantine facilities and critical infrastructure, including wastewater treatment plants. We continue to stress to the Israeli authorities the damage that their restrictions on movement, access and trade are doing to Gazans’ living standards, while recognising Gazans also suffer as a result of Hamas misrule, and recurrent escalations in violence.

As well as direct political lobbing, we are also working to address the underlying causes of humanitarian need and economic decline in Gaza. The FCDO’s economic development programme aims to lift the overall standard of living by increasing trade and job creation, enabling greater movement and access for people and goods, and enhancing the supply of electricity and clean water.

The UK is providing vital support to help respond to COVID-19 in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). Our £840,000 funding contribution is enabling the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to purchase and co-ordinate the delivery of medical equipment, treat critical care patients, train frontline public health personnel and scale up laboratory testing capacity. We have also recently announced a further £2.7m funding to United Nations (UN) agencies to provide food assistance, medical supplies and personal protection for the most vulnerable Palestinian refugees and non-refugees.

We are clear that all countries, including Israel, have a legitimate right to self-defence, and the right to defend their citizens from attack. In doing so, it is vital that all actions are proportionate, in line with International Humanitarian Law, and are calibrated to avoid civilian casualties. Israel is a close friend and the people of Israel deserve to live free from the scourge of terrorism and anti-Semitic incitement, which gravely undermine the prospects for a two-state solution. The perpetual cycle of violence does not serve anyone’s interests, and must end. Hamas and other terrorist groups must cease all actions that are violent or provocative, or that put civilian lives at risk.

The UK will continue to push for an easing of restrictions in Gaza to address the humanitarian situation and improve the lives of the people of Gaza.

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office