Oxfam condemns ongoing violence in Gaza and Israel

Media Releases, News article written on the 16 Jul 2014

Oxfam has condemned violence in Gaza and Israel and urged the international community to do everything in its power to push for a peaceful solution.

Oxfam Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel Country Director Nishant Pandey called on leaders from both sides of the conflict to show restraint and respect international law.

“Oxfam condemns all violence against civilians, including Israeli military actions and Palestinian rocket fire,” Mr Pandey said.

“There needs to be a long-term solution to the crisis. The international community needs to redouble efforts to achieve a just and lasting peace that brings security and development to all Palestinians and Israelis.”

Oxfam partners in Gaza have been responding to the mounting human cost of the escalating violence, but efforts have been hampered by the security situation.

Mr Pandey said that in addition to rising casualties, vital water and sanitation infrastructure had also been destroyed or badly damaged by Israeli airstrikes.

“Services are now struggling to cope and the insecurity is making it difficult to deliver aid,” Mr Pandey said.

Mr Pandey said 90 per cent of water in Gaza had already been unsafe to drink and Oxfam partners had now been forced to suspend efforts to chlorinate water supplies because of the ongoing violence. Water supplies had been cut off completely in some areas as a result of bombings and a sewage plant serving half of Gaza City had been badly damaged, with 25 million litres of raw sewage spilling into the sea and increasing the likelihood of disease caused by poor sanitation. Hospitals were also struggling to cope, with a shortage of medical supplies and fuel to keep generators operating a major concern.

Palestinian rockets continue to be fired into Israel, causing damage to schools and other buildings. Several civilians there have been injured, at least one critically and one Israeli citizen was reportedly killed by rocket fire near the Erez crossing into Gaza.

More than 190 people in Gaza are now reported to have been killed and more than 1400 people injured. Many of the casualties are women and children. Many people and services are particularly vulnerable and impoverished by the ongoing blockade of Gaza, which has been in place since 2007.

Oxfam programs in Gaza:

Oxfam and our partners’ humanitarian and development work helps around 350,000 people in Gaza. We work with farmers and fishermen in accessing their livelihoods, and support a hospital and mobile clinic to provide primary healthcare. We supply safe water and sanitation, and run a food-voucher project that ensures families have enough to eat and supports the local economy. We help local producers improve the quality of their produce and get it to market, and we help local civil society to advocate for their rights.

We also provide emergency aid during military escalations and humanitarian crises – treating water supplies to make it safe to drink and carrying out public health campaigns, distributing food vouchers, and supporting a local hospital and health centres to cope with increased demand. We aim to resume work that is currently on hold as soon as security allows.    

For interviews or more information, please contact Angus Hohenboken on 0428 367 318 or angush@oxfam.org.au