Labour Friends of Israel is launching a major push for more Israeli government action to support the people of Gaza, in an attempt to help stem a “dire” humanitarian crisis there.
The LFI’s ‘Pledge for Gaza,’ which the parliamentary group will ask MPs to sign, will feature several events and run alongside the group’s ongoing campaigns on co-existence and incitement.
“We urge the Israeli government to assist with the economic revitalisation of Gaza including supporting Labor MK Omer Bar-Lev’s plans for the construction of a seaport.”
Bar-Lev, a politician and former commander of the IDF’s elite Sayeret Matkal unit, has put forward detailed proposals that would, through progressive confidence-building measures, see Gaza demilitarised and reconstructed through rebuilding and development projects, including an airport and a harbour.
He thinks there is a window of opportunity to act in concert with Israel’s Sunni Arab neighbours such as Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, who “want to weaken Hamas”. Bar-Lev called this “converging interests”.
LFI chair Joan Ryan, writing in this week’s Jewish News, said: “The humanitarian situation in Gaza is desperate and deeply concerning. Electricity supplies are highly restricted; water and sewage facilities are under strain; rising unemployment has hit 40 percent, with an estimated six in ten young people out of work.”
She said the pledge “condemns Hamas’ ongoing rearmament, tunnel construction and attempts to launch rocket and terrorist attacks in Israel and urges respect for the Oslo Accords which stipulate the demilitarisation of the Palestinian territories”.
The Pledge also states: “We deplore Hamas’ repeated violation of the human rights of the citizens of Gaza, in particular its treatment of women and LGBT Palestinians… We call upon the international community to honour the reconstruction pledges made at the Cairo conference in 2014.”
Ahmad Kurd, the director of Gaza-based charity the Salah Society, said the Strip was “a disaster area in all areas, including health, environmental, social, and energy,” adding that energy black-outs of up to 20 hours were a daily occurrence.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said this week that Gaza’s emergency fuel programme was “facing a severe funding crisis, threatening its continuity”. This programme maintains the Strip’s critical services.