Aug 3, 2009
On July 28, the collapse of one of the tunnels dug under the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt caused the death of one Palestinian, while five others went missing. Ten days before, seven other people were buried alive in another tunnel collapse.
Since the beginning of 2007, 150 Palestinians have died in these tunnels. The tunnels are several hundred yards long, 50 to 60 feet deep, and are scattered along nine miles of the border.
These tunnels are almost the only way to get a job in a territory where official unemployment last April was 44%, and almost the only means of supplying necessities to the 1.5 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military regularly bombs the tunnels. They are also closely monitored by Egyptian soldiers, who sometimes flood them with gasoline or stuff the tunnels with explosives.
The six check points into Gaza, which are regularly closed by the Israeli authorities or are opened only a very short time, have transformed Gaza into a vast open-air prison. Six months after the end of the most recent war, the blockade of materials prevents the reconstruction of the 6,300 homes that were either destroyed or severely damaged. The importation of goods into Gaza is severely restricted. The Israeli siege forces the inhabitants into material and moral misery. The average income per household has fallen to 280 dollars a month; even the attendance of children at primary school has fallen.
The blockade imposed by the Israeli government is leading to an unbearable situation for the Palestinian population. The Western powers are totally complicit in this scandalous situation.