Gazans are trapped ‘in despair’- Red Cross

By Jessica Elgot, June 29, 2009

The Red Cross has released a report today on the effects of the two-year Israeli blockade of the Gaza strip, which it says has trapped 1.5 million Gaza residents ‘in despair.’

The humanitarian organisation said the blockade, which has been in place since Hamas took control of Gaza two years ago, was ‘strangling’ the local economy and that local people were unable to rebuild their homes and their lives six months after the Israeli offensive in Gaza.

"Gazan neighbourhoods particularly hard hit by the Israeli strikes will continue to look like the epicenter of a massive earthquake unless vast quantities of cement, steel and other building materials are allowed into the territory for reconstruction," the Red Cross report said.

It said Gaza’s poverty was directly linked to the blockade and drew attention to the shortage of basic medicine in region.

Hospitals and health clinics depend on the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Health for supplies, but the supply chain often breaks down as the Ministry is based in the West Bank.

The report also condemned Israel's halting of Red Cross-supported visits by about 900 Gaza families to relatives detained in Israel.

Last updated: 10:23am, October 16 2009