High Representative for the European Union, Frederica Mogherini, has strongly condemned Gaza’s retaliatory rocket attack on Israel, following a three-day siege that left 31 Palestiniansand four Israelis killed.
Mogherini’s statement said the European Union (EU) reiterates its fundamental commitment to the security of Israel, an expressed condolences to victims’ families and the Israeli people.
These attacks provoke unspeakable suffering to the Israelis and serve only the cause of endless violence and of an endless conflict, the statement read.
Egypt and Qatar helped mediate a cease-fire early morning on 6 May, ending the attacks which led to the deaths of two pregnant Palestinian women and two Palestinian infants caught in the raids.
In response to the EU statement, Head of the Palestinian National Initiative Dr Mustafa Barghouti told Palestine Monitor the use of rockets were a retaliation to Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, and Palestinians should not be the ones condemned.
There is, unfortunately, a continuous Israeli effort to dehumanise Palestinians, and some people are collaborating with that.
I think the international community should be more balanced and less frightened from Israeli actions. Everybody knows that Gaza is living in a humanitarian ‘hell’, Mustafa said.
The siege escalated after Israel initiated air-raids on Hamas outposts in retaliation to two Israeli soldiers being wounded by gunfire at the Gaza-Israel separation fence.
Two members of the Hamas armed wing were killed during the air-raid, and another two Palestinians were killed in a separate incident along the fence during the weekly Great March of Return demonstrations.
According to Al Jazeera, Israeli media reported 400 rockets were fired from Gaza at towns and cities in southern Israel, of which 250 were intercepted by the Israeli Iron Dome anti-missile system.
Israeli warplanes carried out about 150 raids, in addition to artillery-shelling targeting 200 civilian landmarks in the Gaza Strip, including residential buildings, mosques, shops and media institutions, reported Al Jazeera.
Gaza’s health ministry has estimated 70 Palestinians were wounded in the attacks.
Deteriorating conditions due to the blockade
An Islamic Jihad official told Al Jazeera under the condition of anonymity that the cease-fire agreement depended on Israel easing blockade restrictions on the Gaza Strip.
Barghouti told Palestine Monitor the “13-year-long blockade is having a horrible outcome on the population, which the international community must take into account.
Maybe most people don’t know that 95 per cent of Gaza’s water is polluted or salinated, Barghouti said. Most people don’t know that sewage in Gaza is flowing untreated into the sea and that 70 or 80 per cent of the sea around Gaza is heavily polluted.
The fishing zone in Gaza is currently restricted to 6 nautical miles, which according to Barghouti, forces [fishermen] to fish within a limited area which means that they are fishing in polluted water.
Barghouti also highlighted how the Israeli-led blockade is crippling employment and income with unemployment rates at 52 per cent, and as high as 80 per cent among young, educated people.
The average income of 80 per cent of the total population of Gaza is 670 shekels per month, Barghouti added.
They treat us as if Palestinians are not entitled to live freely. As if Palestinians are not entitled to be out of the siege. As if Palestinian people do not have a right to live in a place that is not a prison, an open prison like Gaza, and as if Palestinians do not have a right to self-determination.
The root cause of the problem in Gaza and the West Bank is the continuation of the occupation. And on top of the occupation is a system of apartheid which is much worse than what prevailed in South Africa, Barghouti stated.
If the world wants this to change, and if they want all forms of violence to disappear, then they have to pressure Israel to end this occupation and allow Palestinians to live as a free nation like everybody else.
Source: Palestine Monitor