A human rights coalition claimed Thursday that the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip has reached its worst point since Israel occupied the territory in 1967. In a fresh report, eight British-based rights organizations said that more than 1.1 million people, about 80 percent of the coastal territory's residents, are now dependent on food aid, as opposed to 63 percent in 2006. It said that overall unemployment is close to 40 percent.
According to the report, hospitals are suffering from power cuts of up to 12 hours a day, and the water and sewage systems were close to collapse, with 40-50 million litres of sewage pouring into the sea daily. According to the AP, Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said Israel must protect its citizens, "but as the occupying power in Gaza it also has a legal duty to ensure that Gazans have access to food, clean water, electricity and medical care."
However, Israel's Defense Ministry dismissed the report, blaming the Hamas rulers for the hardships. "The main responsibility for events in Gaza - since the withdrawal of Israel from the territory and the uprooting of the settlements there - is the Hamas organization, to which all complaints should be addressed," read a statement by spokesman, Maj. Peter Lerner.