Gaza needs an immediate and permanent ceasefire

Plans change. I had been thinking that my first post of the year was going to be about wishing that you all had a wonderful holiday, and thanking you for your support of Oxfam over the past year. But the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza has pre-empted that plan.

As fighting between the Israeli army and Hamas militias has intensified over the last two weeks, the impact on civilians has been terrible, with innocent women, men and children being killed and injured.

Not to mention the toll of stress that the situation is putting on people. As one Oxfam colleague Mohammed Ali writes, from within the Gaza strip: “I have had 8 hours sleep since the beginning of this conflict [nearly two weeks ago]; we can hear attacks almost every minute.”

In the last few days we have had to put our ongoing program in Gaza on hold; our staff, and the staff of our partner organizations, are sheltering while the air raids continue.

While it appears Israel has plans today to open a ‘humanitarian corridor,’ to allow aid to flow into Gaza, this will not be sufficient. The situation needs a stable long-term solution.

Oxfam is calling for a binding UN Security Council resolution to demand:

•    an immediate halt to violence in Gaza and Israel by all parties,•    all parties to commit to an immediate, comprehensive and permanent truce,•    Israel, Hamas and other parties to permit immediate and unhindered access to and from Gaza for humanitarian and commercial goods, and for people, thereby ending the blockade.

Oxfam, with a coalition of major humanitarian, human rights and development organizations, is also calling on the European Union to suspend the EU-Israel upgrade process until there is a comprehensive ceasefire in Gaza, and Israel provides unimpeded humanitarian access.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has deep roots and elicits very strong responses. However no one can argue about the fact that innocent people are being killed. From Oxfam’s point of view, that needs to stop – and the flow of water, food, fuel, and health and medical supplies resumed.

Everyone wants to get on with their plans for the New Year.

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