GAZA CITY, GAZA - February 10 - As the Israeli-led blockade of Gaza continues, hundreds of Palestinians were evicted from their homes and their houses were destroyed this week. Barbara Lubin, Founder and Director of the Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA), and Dr. Mona El-Farra, a Palestinian physician and human rights leader from Gaza as well as MECA’s Director of Gaza Projects, witnessed the demolition of 61 homes on the beach in Gaza City on Tuesday, February 7, 2012. Approximately 100 Palestinian police officers came to the site of a fishermen's village in Gaza City and evacuated the homes early on Tuesday morning before calling in bulldozers to demolish the homes. The demolitions were carried out in order to widen a road.
“It is disheartening when Palestinian families, who face daily hardships and injustice because of the Israeli siege on Gaza and its continued occupation, must also overcome the loss of their homes,” says Lubin. “MECA's primary concern is to help children living under occupation and war to attain their most basic human rights, and we will continue to take action and to stand against violations of these rights wherever and whenever we see them,” she continues. MECA has delivered blankets, food, and clothing to the displaced families and is continuing to look for ways to help meet their basic needs.
These demolitions come on the heels of many years of hardships for fishermen and fisherwomen in Gaza. A report by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights documented 40 instances of Israeli forces firing on Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Gaza and 18 arrests of fishermen in an eight -month period. Additionally the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs states that 85% of the Gaza Strip's fishing waters are totally or partially inaccessible due to Israeli military measures.
“Fishermen in Gaza face great obstacles just trying to provide for their families,” comments Dr. Mona El-Farra. “This community is very poor and vulnerable and these home demolitions are disastrous. We are concerned about the well-being of the children especially in this cold weather and as a humanitarian organization, we cannot sit by and watch this suffering.”
The Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated places in the world, has been under Israeli military occupation for over forty years. Eighty percent of the population is refugees or the descendants of refugees. More than fifty percent of the population—800,000—are children.
Barbara Lubin's full, eyewitness account of the day's events are posted on MECA's website. Additionally, MECA is collecting donations to purchase urgently needed supplies for the families impacted by these demolitions.