Restriction Of Fuel Supplies To Gaza
Joint Statement From David Miliband And Douglas Alexander
Restriction of fuel supplies to Gaza - FCO Statement
We are deeply concerned by the humanitarian situation in Gaza and in particular about reports that the Israeli government has restricted the supply of fuel and is considering electricity cuts, in response to continued rocket fire into Israel.
We understand Israel's security dilemma and strongly condemn these rocket attacks against Israel, which endanger Israeli lives every day. We remain firmly committed to Israel's security and recognise its right to act in self-defence. But measures taken by Israel in response to violent extremists should be consistent with international humanitarian law and not cause suffering to innocent civilians. We have raised these concerns at a senior level with the Israeli government and urged them to act accordingly. They have assured us that they will seek to avoid adverse humanitarian consequences in Gaza.
There is also a pressing need to overcome the obstacles to re-opening Gaza's crossings, not just for humanitarian goods but for trade and people too. We call on all sides to assume their responsibilities in addressing this situation.
1. On 19 September, the Israeli security cabinet voted to declare the Gaza Strip a 'hostile territory', citing the regular firing of Qassam rockets from Gaza into Israel. It has now approved restricting fuel supplies into Gaza. Israel provides about 60% of Gaza's power supply - Gaza does not hold significant fuel reserves. So restricting power supplies could deny hundreds of thousands of people access to water and sewerage systems and have other humanitarian implications.
2. There are 1.4 million Palestinians living in Gaza and a further 2.5 million in the West Bank. 72% of children and 32% of pregnant women in Gaza suffer from anaemia (WHO April 07); 70% of the population in the OPTs is not connected to a sewerage network; 34% are food insecure (WFP Jan 07); unemployment is at 28%, with Gaza at 35% (OCHA April 07).
3. DFID gave £30m in 2006/07 - the same amount it had given in 2005/06 and it has allocated £31.6m for 2007/08. Total EU aid went up from £379 million in 2005 to an estimated £472 million in 2006 - a 25% increase. The UK supports Gazans through funding to the ICRC and UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), totalling more than £16 million this year. 70% of Gazans are registered refugees who benefit from UNRWA assistance.