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Harsh Winter to Come for Gazans Made Homeless by Israel, says U.N. official

November 12, 2009

In a recent interview with Reuters, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Maxwell Gaylard, expressed concern for the hundreds of  families still living in tents after the Israeli military destroyed their houses during Operation Cast Lead.  He warned that many of them would again be homeless through another winter, adding that the plight of those living in the ruins of their old homes should not be forgotten.  Gaylard also noted that the coming winter would be especially difficult for many of the children in Gaza, as the marked deterioration of essential services and the concomitant descent into poverty that has followed the attack on Gaza and the blockade has compromised their ability to survive.

A great number of people were made homeless by Israel during the assault on Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009. A February 2009 Save the Children report claimed that up to 100,000 Gazans were initially homeless because of the attacks.  Few houses or other buildings have been repaired or rebuilt since the end of Operation Cast Lead, due to the ongoing blockade of construction materials into Gaza.

In his interview with Reuters, Gaylard endorsed the right of the people living in Gaza to have access to construction materials, heating fuel, and functioning water and sanitation systems–all rights presently denied them.  Toward this end, Gaylard calls for the suspension of the current restrictions on these necessary goods, noting that the Gazan people should be given the opportunity to lead “dignified lives, free of indiscriminate and prolonged suffering.”

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