I am writing to wish those celebrating happy holidays and hopefully a happier New Year to us all. I recently saw something online that said:
We are not all in the same boat. We are in the same storm. Some have yachts, some canoes, and some are drowning. Just be kind and help whoever you can.
Amen. This couldn’t ring more true for residents of the Gaza Strip, who are the primary beneficiaries of our work. They are stuck in the same storm but too many are drowning. The upside is that the unique vulnerability of Gaza is the result of policy choices, mostly by our own government, which we have the power to influence.
If you are in a position to give, please consider making a one-time or monthly donation and joining us in promoting freedom of movement. Particularly in the New Year, as the world emerges from pandemic lockdown, there is no excuse for leaving Gaza residents behind.
As this challenging year draws to a close, I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for your support and update you on Gisha’s recent work and achievements. Gisha has:
- Successfully challenged exceedingly narrow criteria for travel via Erez: We’ve helped hundreds of people to return home and reunite with loved ones after being trapped abroad, have helped medical patients return home safely from treatment, and for the first time in our history, facilitated transit through Ben Gurion airport. Unprecedented wins in court have set the stage for the state to expand the albeit still unreasonably strict measures on Erez – so there is much more to do.
- Served as a unique voice in addressing the economic consequences of the coronavirus, advocating for unfettered access for goods and compelling Israeli authorities to remove restrictions on entrance and exit of medical and telecommunications equipment for companies in the Strip.
- Reversed a ban on the exit of food products to the West Bank: Two truckloads of snacks from a Gaza company, Sarayo Al Wadia, finally made it to the West Bank for the first time since 2007. This new development builds upon our achievement overturning a ban on the exit of food products from Gaza abroad.
- Brought Gaza into the conversation about Israel’s annexation plans with the release of a seminal report, Area G: From Separation to Annexation, picked up by the United Nations Office for Human Rights among others, and hosted a virtual Gaza Policy Forum, gathering over 100 decision-makers, stakeholders and experts from Israel, Palestine and the international community, including the Special Advisor to the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Nathalie Tocci, and the UN Humanitarian Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick.
In the New Year, we will be paying close attention to the alarming rise in cases of the virus in the Strip and also the secondary impact of the pandemic on the interrelated issues of food security, livelihoods, and women’s access.
Thanks for your encouragement and wishing you well,