For over 10 years, the people of Gaza have lived under an Israeli-imposed blockade that severely limits travel, trade, and everyday life for its over 2 million residents.
The blockade was first imposed on Gaza by Israel in 2006 after Hamas won the Palestinian elections. It was tightened in 2007 after Hamas took control of Gaza and split from the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. The blockade effectively bans nearly all exports from Gaza, severely limits imports to Gaza, and closes the Gaza border for exit by Gaza residents and entrance by others.
The impact of the blockade has been devastating. Today, Gazans don’t have reliable access to clean water, electricity, and many other services. Construction is limited, hospitals are under-resourced, school systems have degraded, and the economy has been destroyed.
Gaza's unemployment rate stands at 43 percent—one of the highest unemployment rates in the world—and over 80 percent of the population depends on international assistance to survive.
The United Nations and International Committee of the Red Cross have both declared the blockade to be an illegal form of collective punishment against the Gaza population. The blockade must end, but change will only come through political action.
Gaza Unlocked highlights the stories of how Palestinians in Gaza are affected by the blockade, as told in their own words. Explore their stories, learn about the issues, and join us in taking action to bring an end to the blockade.
The blockade has devastated the people of Gaza, affecting all aspects of life. According to the U.N.:
- 57 percent of Gaza households are food insecure, and approximately 80 percent receive some form of food assistance
- Gaza’s unemployment rate is over 40 percent-—the highest unemployment rate in the world. Youth unemployment is over 60 percent.
- There are power outages for up to 18 hours per day in most areas of Gaza, due to fuel shortages and damaged or destroyed electrical infrastructure.
- 70 percent of households in Gaza have running water for only six to eight hours once every two to four days.
- Two years after the end of Operation Protective Edge, over 65,000 Palestinians remained homeless with only 30 percent of homes destroyed during the attack rebuilt.
THE BLOCKADE: FAILED POLICY
In 2006, Dov Weisglass, advisor to then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said that the goal of the blockade was to "put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger." The logic of the Israeli government was that if the Palestinian population suffered enough, they would turn on Hamas and force it to capitulate to Israeli demands. Today, Israel, with support from the U.S. government, claims that the blockade is in place to pressure the people of Gaza to rise up against Hamas as well as to stop Hamas from arming itself and to provide security for Israelis.
This targeting of the Gaza population is what led the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross to declare the blockade an illegal form of collective punishment under international law.
After a decade it should be clear that the blockade is a failure. It has not stopped violence, it has not weakened Hamas, and it has not brought Israelis or Palestinians security. All that it has brought is suffering to the civilian population in Gaza, but despite failure, the blockade remains firmly in place with international support.