Ref: 81/2010

 

Yesterday morning, 16 October 2010, the Palestinian Centre
for Human Rights (PCHR) hosted in its main office in Gaza City the meeting of
civil society organizations and public figures with the members of the Elders’
delegation who are: 

former President of Ireland and former United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson; former UN Envoy and former Foreign
Minister of Algeria Lakhdar Brahimi and Gandhian; and founder of the
million-strong Self Employed Women’s (SEWA) Association of India Ela Bhatt. The Elders are an independent group of
eminent global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their
collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address
major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.

 

The Leaders’ delegation visited Gaza for 24 hours to draw
attention to the repercussions of Gaza blockade, to call for immediate lifting
of the blockade and to encourage support across the region for the current
final status negotiations, with emphasis on the need to reach a just and secure
peace for all.

 

Dr. Kamalin Sha’ath,
President of the Islamic University in Gaza, Amr Hamad, Executive Director of
the Palestinian Federation of Industries; Issam Younis, Director of Al Mezan
Center for Human Rights; Amal Seyam, Executive Director f the Women’s Affairs
Center; Jaber Weshah, Deputy Director of PCHR; Hamdi Shaqqoura, Deputy Director
of PCHR for Program Affiars and Director of PCHR Democratic Development Unit; and
Jumana Abu Jazar, 9, the daughter of Ala’a Abu Jazar, a Palestinian prisoner detained
in Israeli jails, attended the meeting in PCHR’s head office.

 

During the meeting, a set of important points that shed
light on developments of human rights conditions in the Gaza Strip were raised
in view of the continued Israeli war crimes and the ongoing blockade imposed on
the Gaza Strip. The representatives of
civil society organizations stressed that the Israeli occupation is the main cause
of all the problems faced by civilians. They
called for putting an end to the occupation as a prelude for improving human
rights conditions. 

 

The meeting focused on the repercussions of the blockade on
civilians’ life. The participants in the
meeting refuted Israeli claims concerning easing the blockade of Gaza, pointing
to the continued ban on the freedom of movement of individuals from and to the
Gaza Strip, disruption of the delivery of raw materials to Gaza and the ban on
exports. This indicates that the
blockade is ongoing and that the Gaza Strip’s economic conditions are getting
worse and worse. 

 

Participants in the meeting also discussed the results of
the isolation of the Gaza Strip resulting from the ongoing siege and the restrictions
imposed on Gaza crossings, noting that there has been an increase in poverty
and unemployment rates. 

 

 Jumana Abu Jazar, the
daughter of Ala’a Abu Jazar, a Palestinian prisoner who is serving a 17 year
imprisonment sentence in Israeli jails, talked about her suffering as she has
been prevented from visiting her father for more than six successive years. She also talked about the suffering endured by
Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails due to bad detention conditions. Her intervention was emotional and
influential. 

 

Delegation leader Mary Robinson concluded by stressing that:
" This is not a humanitarian crisis – it is a political crisis and it can
be solved politically." She expressed her belief that the illegal
occupation is the main cause of the ongoing suffering, and reiterated that
efforts must be exerted in order to terminate it. 

 

This is the Elders’ second visit to Gaza. Members of the Elders visited Gaza in August
2009. The current visit which will be
concluded on 22 October 2010 will include, besides the Occupied Palestinian
Territory, Israel, Jordan and Syria. The
Elders are a group of figures which was created in 2007 by the leader of South
Africa. They include a number of known
and influential political figures and are dedicated for work in order to
terminate conflicts in the world.