GAZA CITY (AA) – With the Eid al-Adha holiday around the corner, charitable organizations in the impoverished Gaza Strip are hoping for a miracle after a vital aid lifeline through the territory’s only gateway to the outside world was cut.
Last year, charities in the territory managed to distribute 400,000 kg of Udhiya (livestock sacrificed in Eid al-Adha festivities) to poor families. Around 3,000 children also received new winter clothes.
But things are different this year, as foreign aid delegations which used to bring financial and food aid into the territory are not knocking on the doors of the territory this year.
“Gaza charities have not received any funds to buy Udhiya for distribution to the strip’s poor and needy, while the plans for clothing have also come to a halt,” Walid al-Amoudi, head of Gaza’s charities federation, told Anadolu Agency.
“The main reasons for this are the hindrances facing the entry of solidarity delegations into Gaza and the aid shipments they used to bring the strip’s poor,” he added.
In recent weeks and months, Egyptian authorities, citing security reasons, have repeatedly closed the Rafah border crossing – the besieged Gaza Strip’s only gateway to the outside world.
All other points into or out of the coastal enclave remain tightly sealed by Israel, which has imposed a crippling blockade on the Hamas-run coastal enclave since 2007.
The six-year-old siege has forced the territory’s roughly 1.7 million inhabitants to rely heavily on underground tunnels along the borders with Egypt to bring badly needed food, medicine and fuel into the territory.
Al-Amoudi also attributed the sharp drop in aid flows into the strip to regional unrest.
“Relief convoys used to address the problems of the poor and the needy and extend assistance to them, but developments in Egypt and the partial opening of Rafah disrupted their contributions,” al-Amoudi lamented.
What’s more, the eruption of revolutions in nearby countries, especially in Syria, has drawn activists’ attention away from the long-suffering strip.
The sharp deterioration in relations between Egypt and Hamas following the July 3 ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi has also negatively impacted charity activity in the territory.
The Egyptian army claims that weapons found recently in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula bore the name of Hamas’ military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades – an allegation the Palestinian resistance group vehemently denies.
Officials in Gaza also say that Egyptian embassies have been shutting their doors to activists seeking to visit the embattled strip.
“The absence of these aid convoys has rubbed salt into the wound,” al-Amoudi said, noting that there were 200,000 families in the strip in dire need of assistance.
The Egyptian crackdown on smuggling tunnels, meanwhile, has also left many Gazans unemployed, further aggravating the situation.
Al-Amoudi noted that the average number of aid delegations to Gaza had reached 27 a month. In July, however, only two were able to enter the territory, while only one was allowed into the enclave in August.
In September, the number stood at zero.
by Ola Atallah