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Home Occupation 03/December/2020 03:48 PM

HRW: Israeli restrictions harm people with disabilities in Gaza

GAZA, Thursday, December 3, 2020 (WAFA) - Israel’s 13-year closure of the Gaza Strip along with neglect by the Hamas authorities significantly encumber the day-to-day life of tens of thousands of Palestinians with disabilities, Human Rights Watch said today on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.  

“More than a decade of Israeli restrictions have robbed people with disabilities in Gaza of their freedom of movement, and often access to the devices, electricity, and technology they need to communicate or leave their homes,” said Emina Cerimovic, senior researcher in the disability rights division at Human Rights Watch. “These policies, alongside the failure of Hamas authorities to address the lack of accessibility across Gaza and widespread stigma, contribute to making life in Gaza extraordinarily difficult for many people with disabilities.”

Since 2007, Israeli occupation authorities have imposed a generalized travel ban that deprives the two million Palestinians in Gaza of their freedom to leave the 365-square-kilometer strip, outside of narrow exceptions. Israeli authorities have also sharply restricted the entry and exit of goods from Gaza. Israel’s closure of Gaza, exacerbated by Egyptian restrictions on its border with Gaza, limits access to health care, clean water, and electricity, as well as educational, economic, and other opportunities.

According to official statistics from the Palestinian Census Bureau, about 48,000 people in Gaza, or about 2.4 percent of the population, have a disability, more than one-fifth of whom are children. A United Nations Children’s’ Fund (UNICEF) official estimates that the actual figure is much higher. 

The World Health Organization estimates that about 15 percent of the world’s population has a disability. Some people acquired a disability following injuries stemming from the Israeli authorities’ use of force.

A December 2019 report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) notes that 498,776 Gaza residents, or nearly 25 percent of Gaza’s population, experience psychosocial distress and have a mental health condition.

“Both Israeli and Palestinian authorities have systematically overlooked people with disabilities in Gaza,” Cerimovic said. “The Israeli-imposed electricity crisis, shortages of assistive devices, and an inaccessible physical environment, block people with disabilities from living independently and fully participating in their communities.”



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