“The situation in Gaza is very serious, and Israeli decision-makers know this”

Screenshot from the interview

Screenshot from the interview

October 27, 2016. In an interview this week with Palestinian newspaper al-Quds, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman was quoted as saying he supports Israel helping to meet the needs of Gaza residents, including freedom of movement, sea and air ports and more, but on condition that Gaza is demilitarized.  Elizabeth Tsurkov, Gisha’s public advocacy coordinator, was invited to respond on Israeli television’s Channel 2 program “Osim Seder”.

“The situation in Gaza is very serious, and Israeli decision-makers know this”, Tsurkov said. “There is widespread disease as a result of contaminated drinking water. About 97% of the water is contaminated. The unemployment rate is past the 40% point, reaching almost 60% among young people. Seventy percent of the population relies on humanitarian aid. The situation is serious, and it’s obvious that Israel’s closure policy since 2007 is a major contributor. Israel still controls almost all land crossings, and Israel prevents building the ports, which means that essentially all of Gaza’s economic and family relationships with the West Bank, with Israel and with the rest of the world hinge on Israel”.

“Because it controls so many aspects of life in Gaza, Israel also has an obligation to allow the population there to lead normal lives. This policy of collective punishment is both immoral and impractical. It’s been in place for a decade, and we can see that it doesn’t work. Its goals haven’t been achieved”.

We add that the defense minister’s statements indicate that he is well aware of the needs of Gaza residents. Unfortunately, his statements also indicate that he believes freedom of movement and the right to lead a normal life are a “reward”, or a “carrot” that Gaza residents will get if they display what he considers good behavior. The thing is, freedom of movement is a basic right – it’s not Lieberman’s to take away.

Watch the interview (in Hebrew)