About the Gaza Strip, Palestine

Here are some sources of information about Gaza, the blockade and its effects on Palestinians’ rights and quality of life behind the walls

1.  Is Gaza Occupied, and, is the blockade illegal?  If so, what are Israel’s obligations?

The legal status of Gaza helps to determine which laws should be applied to its protection and conflict.  Israel argues that the withdrawal of settlers and soldiers from the physical territory of Gaza in 2005 ended the Occupation of Gaza, and Israel’s responsibilities as the Occupying Power.  

The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs outlines Israel’s case in its publications.

The current United Nations Human Rights Council annual report on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) disagrees.   B’Tselem, an Israeli NGO offers a shorter, accessible summary of Israel’s obligations.  OCHA adds a timeline of the blockade, starting with the Gaza perimeter fence in 1995. 

Here is a simple, brief outline of the obligations of an Occupying Power, from the ICRC (Red Cross).

2.  Blockaded Life

  • UNRWA briefly describes the blockade and projects its effects here:  https://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/press-releases/gaza-2020-liveable-place  It finds that Gaza may be unliveable by the year 2020.    
  • Gisha is an Israeli NGO that studies access, mobility, separation and other blockade issues.
  • B’Tselem is an Israeli NGO that studies the Occupation’s impacts on human rights.
  • The World Health Organization focuses on Gaza’s medical services and health.
  • The World Bank Ad Hoc Committee reports regularly on Palestine and on the Gaza Strip.  They also monitor reconstruction following the 2014 war.
  • OCHA reports on broad range of issues relating to the protection of Gazans, and their wellbeing.  See their recent statements on deteriorating conditions, including the delivery of basic health and social services.
  • See this summary of the present electricity crisis in Gaza.
  • See some facts about the Occupation’s impact on water in Palestine.
  • Read the ICRC (Red Cross) statement on fifty years of occupation, and the importance of International Humanitarian Law.

3.  The Policy of Occupation

  • The Red Line Policy counted and restricted the calories of food that were permitted to enter the Gaza Strip.  This policy helped motivate the construction of Gaza’s tunnels.
  • The Separation Policy holds the two halves of Palestine apart, with profound human consequences.
  • Al Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network, is a think-tank for Palestinian analysis.  See, for example, this article on the importance of finding the right framework for understanding the Occupation.
  • The UN-ESCWA report on apartheid, withdrawn but still in circulation, asks whether the Occupation fits the legal criteria of the 1973 international convention on the crime of apartheid.  Although it’s confrontational to read, this report helped me to understand the legal criteria, distinct from the more emotive use of the word ‘apartheid’ in protest.

4.  Living fully in Gaza

Gaza is a community, not just an object of Occupation policy!  Many Gazans choose to live and create, as Viktor Frankl described:  “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.