Thursday, May 17, 2018


Originally occupied by Egypt, which retains control of Gaza's southern border, the territory was captured by Israel during the 1967 Middle East war. Israel withdrew its troops and around 7,000 settlers in 2005.
It is under the control of the Palestinian Authority, and between 2007 and 2014 was ruled by  Hamas. They won Palestinian legislative elections in 2006 but then had a violent rift with the rival Fatah faction.
When Hamas took over in Gaza, Israel swiftly imposed a blockade on the territory, restricting the movement of goods and people in and out. Egypt meanwhile blockaded Gaza's southern border.

Gaza is significantly poorer than it was in the 1990s. Its economy grew only 0.5% in 2017 according to a World Bank report, with annual income per person falling from $2,659 in 1994 to $1,826 in 2018.
In 2017 the Gaza Strip had the highest unemployment rate in the World Bank's development database.
At 44% it was more than double the rate in the West Bank.
And of particular concern was the high youth unemployment rate, which stood at more than 60% in Gaza.
The latest data shows Gaza's poverty rate stands at 39%, more than twice the rate in the West Bank. The World Bank believes this would rise even higher were it not for social aid payments, mostly through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
The agency says 80% of the population are on some form of social assistance. 
Access to public health services has worsened due to border restrictions.
The closure of the Rafah crossing reduced the number of patients travelling to Egypt for treatment. Before 2014, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said a monthly average of 4,000 people crossed into Egypt for health reasons alone.
Exit passes through Israel have also dropped in recent years, with approvals for medical reasons dropping from 93% in 2012 to 54% in 2017.
Moreover, drugs, supplies and equipment are all restricted because of the blockade - including dialysis machines and heart monitors.
Just as in education, the UN helps out by running 22 healthcare facilities. But a number of hospitals and clinics were damaged or destroyed in previous conflicts with Israel, with the total number of primary health care clinics falling from 56 to 49 since 2000 - in the same time as the population doubled.
A recent fuel shortage for generators has also affected medical services. The Palestinian Ministry of Health says three hospitals and ten medical centres have suspended services due to a lack of power. 

I have never visited the region but know so many respected friends who have. 
They all say it is a locked down community of beautiful humans (no-matter anyone's behaviour)
Lock down
Massive restrictions on movement.
Tears flow as I hear more and more of their plight.