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UN Independent Commission of Inquiry (Gaza) - Westminster Hall debate

Categories: Articles:Peacemaking | Published: 10/07/2015 | Views: 1397
8 July/2015 marks a year since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, a conflict that lasted 51 days, claimed 2,251 lives, including the lives of 551 children, displaced more than half a million people, and destroyed 77 health facilities and 261 schools. Each day, an average of 680 tank and artillery shells pummelled the densely populated areas of Gaza, leaving barely anywhere safe. Although the report recognises that Israel issued warnings to people to evacuate, there was often nowhere for them to evacuate to and no means of escaping the conflict zone. (House of Commons: 8 July 201

Gaza is a tiny strip of land, covering just 139 square miles. If we bear in mind that west Yorkshire alone covers 780 square miles, it gives us some perspective of just how small Gaza is, yet 1.8 million Palestinians live in what is increasingly becoming a densely populated open-air prison, and they have nowhere to go. In 2012 the World Bank published a report, "Gaza 2020", which claimed that Gaza would become uninhabitable by 2020 as a result of the blockade, an increase in population size, and insufficient access to clean drinking water, electricity, and health and education services. After last year's devastation, Gaza has reached 2020 five years ahead of schedule.

Currently, 860,000 Palestinians in Gaza survive on UNRWA food parcels. In addition to the destruction of health facilities, schools and homes, there has been massive disruption of water supplies, sewage disposal and electricity supplies, and they have not yet been repaired. One year on, not one of the 8,377 homes that were totally destroyed in the conflict has been rebuilt, and repairs have been carried out on only 5% of the 23,597 homes that were partially destroyed.

Much of the aid pledged at last year's Cairo conference for reconstruction in Gaza has not yet materialised, and I hope that the Minister can update us about the UK's contribution. The UN requested $720 million, but it has received only about $210 million. UNRWA faces a severe funding crisis, as it has a deficit of $100 million, which of course is having a serious impact on its ability to deliver essential humanitarian aid. Read more: House of Commons: 8 July 2015 : Column 117WH
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