Gaza, ALRAY - The International Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza organized a mass rally at the Gaza port on Saturday under the title "Open Gaza Ports," demanding lifting the ongoing blockade on Gaza. During the campaign's conference, Salama Ma'arouf, head of the government media office, stated that Gaza has become a large prison housing over 2.3 million citizens who have been under siege for more than 17 years.
He emphasized that the rally inside the port symbolized what ports represent in all countries, signifying openness, freedom, and connectivity to the outside world, which has been continuously blocked by the Israeli occupation's siege on the Gaza Strip.
He noted that partners in ending the siege are organizing activities on the other side of the sea to demand the lifting of the blockade and the opening of ports. This is a continuation of all campaigns and efforts to lift the blockade on Gaza, aiming to end the suffering of an entire generation that has been isolated from the outside world.
Ma'arouf highlighted the devastating consequences of the blockade on various sectors, particularly the healthcare sector. The occupation prevents over 6,000 patients annually from seeking treatment through the Beit Hanoun crossing. Cases of cancer and heart patients who require medical interventions are also denied entry, putting their lives at risk. Additionally, the blockade has resulted in a loss of approximately 43% of medicines within the Ministry of Health and over 25% of medical supplies. It has also hindered the entry of dozens of diagnostic and medical devices and prevented the importation of spare parts for many malfunctioning medical devices.
Furthermore, the economic sector in Gaza has suffered as a result of the blockade, with industrial production contributing to only 1% of the local GDP, down from 5.7%. More than 2,500 facilities and factories have been destroyed, causing significant economic hardship. The Israeli occupation has also banned more than 1,200 raw materials and obstructed the export movement, a vital resource for the Palestinian economy.
Ma'arouf discussed the plight of fishermen, highlighting that the number of fishermen has dwindled to 2,000 from approximately 5,000 due to the occupation's restrictive access policies, confiscation of their tools and boats, and ongoing violations against them.
The occupation has repeatedly destroyed infrastructure, including sewage and electricity, with the occupation persistently obstructing projects aimed at addressing the electricity crisis and preventing municipalities from obtaining resources to develop water and sanitation networks.
Unemployment rates have soared to nearly 47% overall, with youth unemployment reaching 75% out of 162,000 graduates among approximately 300,000 unemployed individuals. Ma'arouf called for lifting the siege on Gaza and urged human rights organizations and the international community to take action, as the situation in Gaza is becoming increasingly unsustainable.
He stressed the necessity of ending the siege and the occupation's continuous crimes, calling for serious intervention by all international civil society organizations to lift the blockade. He added, "Do not close the doors of hope in the face of the Palestinian people, and in Gaza, we want to be a symbol of construction and cultural contribution like all free societies and peoples."
Ma'arouf noted that the international campaign begins with multiple events in several cities, continuing until the end of the month, and called for pressure on all parties to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip.