Since 2006, almost 12 years now, the Gaza Strip has been under a blockade. It was former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who first imposed the blockade, transforming the region into a virtual open-air prison for the millions living there. Since then, there have been countless human rights violations in Gaza, as cited by the U.N.
International human rights groups have been arguing for action against the arbitrary opening and closure of the Rafah border crossing and the prevention of desperately needed materials for infrastructure, including for hospitals' repairs. There have been serious complaints against the embargo on thousands of goods, including foodstuffs, and the intolerable harm done to civilians by continued Israeli aggression.
The blockade of Gaza became even more unbearable after 2014, creating a serious crisis over a lack of medicine. The per capita food and medicine allowed into Gaza on average is considerably below what is considered enough for a single person.
Nowadays, the news cycle is dominated by the "Great March of Return" by the people of Gaza against continued Israeli aggression and the negotiations between Hamas and Israel.
No matter how the negotiations turn out, one thing is clear: The Israeli blockade of Gaza, preventing access to food and medicine, is in violation of international law and basic morality. Israel uses Hamas as an excuse to commit all kinds of inhumane actions against innocent civilians. This is unacceptable. Nothing justifies the death and wounding of innocents.
In the second half of 2018, things in Gaza are now deteriorating even further.
The head of the Popular Committee to End Gaza's Siege, Jamal al-Hudari, told Anadolu Agency (AA) last week that 85 percent of the people in Gaza were living below the poverty line and that the average income per capita per day was well below $2.
Gaza's only remaining commercial border gate has been closed for a month. Despite what the Israelis argue, serious obstacles are hindering the passage of fresh food and medicine.
This month, Palstinian Health Ministry spokesman in Gaza, Dr. Asraf al-Qudra, said the chemotherapy treatment of cancer patients was suspended, adding that the medicine Neupogen that boosts the immune system of cancer patients had run out.
Israel also prevents the transfer of cancer patients out of Gaza to a place where they can receive treatment, and thus is responsible for the deaths caused by this policy. The lack of cancer drugs is not the only health care problem Gazans face. All sorts of medical and laboratory equipment is breaking down. Patients do not have the facilities necessary to identify their ailments. The wages of medical personnel are not paid. The volunteers working in Gaza are making the best with what they have, but no medical system can work on the sacrifices of volunteers. A 21-year-old nurse, Razan Najjar, was killed by an Israeli sniper in June while helping the wounded in the Khan Younis refugee camp. The Israeli blockade is also preventing outside volunteers from entering the strip. According to the internationally accepted rules of war, the implementation of a blockade on an area necessitates a cross-border war. Additionally, the beginning and end dates of the blockade need to be clear.
The Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip that uses Hamas as an excuse is a purely political move. It is combating its political rival by punishing civilians.
The U.N. report on the Gaza conflict argues that the mass punishment meted out by Israel violates the international rules on human rights, as does the disproportionate Israeli response to Palestinian actions since the very first day it was established.