1. The blockage of Gaza – now in place for seven years – has had dramatic humanitarian consequences for its population of 1.8 million. The restricted access to essential services such as health care and the disastrous state of Gaza’s economy have led to extreme impoverishment and the growing vulnerability of the civilian inhabitants.
2. The most recent escalation of violence on both sides has resulted in an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Gaza. At least 2 133 people, including 500 children, have lost their lives; over 11 100, including 3 374 children, have been injured. According to preliminary estimates, up to 1 000 children will have a permanent handicap. Explosive remnants of war are widely dispersed on the territory and are causing more injuries.
3. At the height of the conflict, an estimated 500 000 people were internally displaced looking for emergency shelters and fleeing destructed areas. At present, more than 100 000 people remain homeless. As many as 450 000 have no access to running water. Most of the territory is deprived of electricity for 18 hours a day. Many hospitals, schools and shops have been damaged or completely destroyed. There is a lack of construction materials, fuel, food and medicines. The lack of access to agricultural fields poses a real threat to food security in the coming year.
4. The Parliamentary Assembly is maintaining close contacts with both sides of the conflict. The Knesset enjoys observer status with the Parliamentary Assembly. The Palestinian National Council has been granted partner for democracy status. As a result, the Assembly constitutes an excellent platform for the dialogue between both sides of the conflict together with the European countries, on ways of alleviating the humanitarian plight of the Palestinian population by stepping up emergency aid and assistance, increasing refugee protection and identifying measures for long-term humanitarian solutions.