08 September 2009

Statement Issued On Gaza Illegal Siege

End siege of Gaza -MacLochlainn
Sinn Féin Councillor Gerry MacLochlainn today called on the Israeli government to immediately end its siege of the Gaza Strip.

His call follows an appeal by the UN and international agencies to Israel to allow urgent repairs to be carried out on the water and sewage system in Gaza .

According to these agencies more than 13 million gallons or 50 million litres of raw or partially treated sewage is flowing into the Mediterranean Sea each day because Gaza’s sewage and water treatment systems are totally inadequate following bomb damage inflicted by Israeli armed forces and the refusal of Israel to allow the necessary repairs and investment essential to service and upgrade the sewage and water systems.

Much of this pollution finds its way back onto the coast of Gaza and Israel .

Four months ago Councillor MacLochlainn visited the Middle East and spent four days in Gaza and along with elected representatives from across Europe and accompanied an aid convoy for Gaza across the Rafah border. The water and sewage system was already then at the point of collapse.

Speaking following the UN and international appeal Councillor MacLochlainn said:

“There is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza .

”In May I saw for myself the cruel consequences of the Israeli assault on Gaza last Christmas and New Year which produced enormous destruction and hardship for the people of that region.

The civilian population bore the brunt of the fatalities and in particular children and women.

Residential areas, educational and medical facilities alongside political and civil administration establishments were targeted. This included the police. Water and electricity services and roads were also targeted.

Over a three week period from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009 it is reported that
Over 1400 people were killed including more than 400 children and over a hundred women.
_ Casualties were in the region of 5,000 including 1,800 children and almost 800 women.

According to the UN the Israeli attack ' wrought unprecedented devastation and hardship on an already impoverished population, compounding the effects of an 18 month blockade and tight regime of closures and restrictions on movement that date back to the early 1990s. '

While I support the demand by the UN and international agencies that Israel allow urgent repairs on Gaza’s water and sewage system to proceed, the reality is that only a complete lifting of the siege by the Israeli government can significantly improve the lives of the million and a half people trapped in that area.