On the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October, the Popular Committee for Facing the Siege on Gaza released a statement noting that “90% of Gazan residents are living below the poverty line” and that “it records the highest rate of poverty since” the siege on Gaza began.
Israel imposed a harsh blockade on Gaza in 2006, when the Hamas government was democratically elected. The UN has maintained for years that the ongoing siege is illegal.
After an almost four-year legal battle, the human rights organization Gisha pressured the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories to release a 2008 document detailing Israel’s “red lines” for “food consumption in the Gaza Strip.”
Israel’s policy, Israeli journalist Amira Hass reports, is to limit the only food allowed in Gaza to 2,279 calories per person. In 2006, senior advisor to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Dov Weisglass openly admitted that the idea behind the siege was “to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”
This seven-year-long, ongoing blockade has essentially destroyed the Gazan economy, plunging Palestinians into some of the worst economic conditions in the world. Moreover, Israel’s summer 2014 massacre in Gaza, codenamed “Operation Protective Edge,” the Popular Committee for Facing the Siege on Gaza indicates in its statement, destroyed “hundreds of factories and commercial facilities.”
In a September statement, the organization revealed that 60% Gaza’s manufacturing capability was also destroyed in the 50-day attack.
The organization details the shocking conditions Israel’s blockade has precipitated in Gaza:
- 90% of Gazans live in poverty.
- Over 65%, that is to say 2/3rds, of Gazans are unemployed.
- The average Gazan lives on less than $1 per day.
- 95% of Gaza’s water is undrinkable and “the sea water is polluted because 40 million liters of untreated sewage water is pouring into it every day.”
These are the human costs of Israel’s illegal siege, occupation, and settler colonialism.