Conditions in Gaza 'the worst since 1967'

The British Government should end its boycott of Hamas and work to lift a crippling blockade of Gaza which has left humanitarian conditions at their worst level for 40 years, the top UK charities say today.

The call on Britain to spearhead a radical change of EU policy by promoting reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah comes in a stark report that describes the Gaza Strip overwhelmed by steeply rising poverty, power cuts of up to 12 hours a day, and water and sewage systems close to collapse.

The report condemns rocket attacks on Israel but warns that the "failing" international policy of isolating Hamas has not "reaped any benefits". Instead both the UK Government and the EU should begin a "political dialogue with all Palestinian parties" as a first step towards the establishment of a "credible" peace process with Israel involving both the West Bank and Gaza.

The report was published as the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, yesterday bowed to US pressure and current international policy by agreeing to resume his negotiations with Israel only hours after warning that he would not do so until there was a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The agencies, including Oxfam, Amnesty International, Save the Children UK, Care International UK and Christian Aid, say that last weekend's "upsurge in violence and human misery" in which more than 100 Palestinians were killed in Israeli military operations against rocket attacks "underlines the urgency of this report". They call for pressure on Israel to reopen the Gaza crossings.

The report says that with 80 per cent of families in Gaza are currently dependent on food aid humanitarian conditions in Gaza are now worse than "at any time since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967".

With unemployment set to rise to 50 per cent, 95 per cent of Gaza's industrial operations have halted because of the closures of Gaza crossings. It says that between 40 million and 50 million litres of untreated sewage continue to pour into the Mediterranean daily because of a lack of fuel for treatment plants and warns of a current "60-70 per cent" shortage of diesel required for hospital power generators.

It quotes World Health Organisation estimates that the proportion of patients given permits to leave Gaza for medical treatment has fallen from 89 per cent in January 2007 to an "unprecedented low" of 64.3 per cent in December 2007 and that 20 per cent of patients, including five children, have died while waiting for permits. Christian Aid's director, Daleep Mukarji, said yesterday: "The UK Government should acknowledge that a new strategy is needed for Gaza. The current policy does not secure vital security for Israeli citizens, and even if it did the blockade policy would still be unacceptable and illegal."

He added: "Humanitarian aid can help stave off total collapse but it will not provide a long-term solution. Gaza cannot become a partner for peace unless Israel, Fatah and the Quartet engage with Hamas and give the people of Gaza a future."

Mr Abbas's U-turn came as the US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, wound up her mission to the region by saying that the US brokered negotiations – which deliberately exclude Hamas – would resume and that while the Palestinian President would like to see an end to the violence in Gaza, "this is not a condition".

As 10 Qassam rockets landed in open areas in Israel yesterday, the Israeli security cabinet backed further military operations after last weekend's incursion – in which Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups estimate that more than half the deaths were of civilians.

Mr Abbas's espousal of two diametrically opposite policies in a single day appeared to reflect a deepening conflict between the goal of satisfying the demands of the international community and pursuing negotiations on the outlines of a future two-state solution, which show little sign of making progress.

The Israeli religious party Shas, which at present occupies a pivotal role in Israeli Prime minister's Ehud Olmert's coalition, has threatened to walk out if the "core issue" of Jerusalem – essential to any future negotiated deal – is discussed in the talks.

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Popes current and former won't be watching the football together
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA powerful collection of reportage on Egypt’s cycle of awakening and relapse
Sport
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests