Van Bommel: Let aid goods into Gaza

27 May 2010

Van Bommel: Let aid goods into Gaza

Harry van Bommel is calling on Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen to put pressure on the Israeli authorities to allow a fleet of eight ships carrying aid goods to Gaza to fulfil its mission. The ships carrying the aid are currently on their way to Gaza from a number of different countries with aid goods on board. Israel has threatened to use a blockade at sea to prevent the goods from being delivered. "Israel must be urged to open the border right away. That's why it's good that this aid initiative, taken out of solidarity with the people affected, has been taken. The goods must be landed."

Harry van BommelIsrael has been blocking the access of aid goods and other freight traffic into Gaza for the last three years. Only the most minimal access has been granted, creating the impression that the people of Gaza are being starved out. The people of Gaza manage to smuggle a proportion of necessary products through tunnels dug under the frontier with Egypt, but these tunnels are subject to sporadic bombing by the Israelis. The head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Gaza, Karen Koning Abu Zayd, said as long ago as 2008 that Gaza was being wilfully and maliciously plunged into profound poverty, with the evident approval of the international community. The situation is tragic. Last summer the ship Spirit of Humanity also tried to deliver goods, but was prevented from doing so by the Israeli navy. The people on board were arrested. At the time the Minister Verhagen approved this on the grounds that the 1993 Oslo Accords gave Israel the right to surveillance at sea. "This was extremely disappointing," Van Bommel recalls, "because Oslo was not intended to enable the civilian population to be strangled to death. This time I want to see Verhagen act with more courage."

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