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Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza
Populated areas and refugee camps in Gaza.
The three-week military conflict that took place in the Gaza Strip from December 27, 2008, to January 18, 2009, resulted in a dire need for humanitarian assistance in the area.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs acknowledged the significance of the humanitarian crisis which entailed "a massive destruction of livelihoods and a significant deterioration of infrastructure and basic services."
The humanitarian crisis fueled by Israel's 2008–9 attack on Gaza (Operation Cast Lead) is a manifestation of long-standing hostilities and violence between Palestine and Israel. A political framework for a negotiated solution is necessary to end this conflict and achieve a durable and just solution.
Today, the entire population in Gaza remains deeply affected by the continuing crisis — an affront to human dignity by any humanitarian standard. The Gaza economy is stagnant, unemployment is near 50 percent, and poverty is widespread. Eighty percent of people in Gaza depend on humanitarian aid for their survival. Thousands of families are living in substandard housing conditions.
In the time since Operation Cast Lead killed over 1,000 civilians in Gaza and caused extensive damage to homes, infrastructure, public buildings, farms, and businesses, there has been very little repair or rebuilding of homes. The Israeli-imposed blockade, in place since June 2007, continues to cause material and psychological pressure and seriously hamper construction efforts.
The easing of the blockade in June 2010 and the opening of the Egyptian border crossing in May 2011 have enabled people to cross into Egypt more easily, but supplies and much-needed raw materials remain greatly restricted at all border crossings. Although aid agencies have funding and supplies to address the damage from Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli government allows very little humanitarian aid into Gaza to rebuild homes and public buildings. People are forced to live in bombed-out and badly damaged homes.
UUSC opened the Gaza Humanitarian Relief Fund in January 2009 and, with modest resources, has fostered creative initiatives that continue to support families and communities in Gaza. UUSC is currently working with two partner organizations, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and Islamic Relief-Palestine, to repair homes that were badly damaged by Operation Cast Lead. The repair team, which employs young adults, will incorporate community-identified recommendations that respond to the specific needs of youth, women, and people with disabilities.
UUSC's work is based on the understanding that destroying physical living space also destroys the relationships and human interactions within that space. Living in damaged homes should not be normalized. Together with our partners in Gaza and a unique team of young people, UUSC will help families regain a level of safety and dignity.
Together, and with your continued generous support, we are acting in solidarity with youth and communities in Gaza to make a positive difference in their lives.
Last updated: June 23, 2011
Featured Stories About Our Response to the Crisis
Daily life for Palestinians in Gaza remains precarious after the January 2009 cease-fire that ended Israel's 22-day offensive.