After over six months of closure, the 1.5 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip have come to depend heavily on aid from the United Nations. Although they are willing and able to work, the Israeli closure has devastated the economy, and prevented employment, imports and exports. Now, the Israeli forces that completely control Gaza's borders have sealed the border even to the UN emergency aid vehicles. Sixty-one patients have died since last June due to the Israeli closure, which has prevented them from receiving needed medical care. The hospitals in Gaza have been unable to receive the supplies necessary for providing quality care, and patients in need of equipment or care unavailable in Gaza have been prevented from leaving.
On Thursday, in the midst of a large-scale military invasion of Gaza in which 34 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces over the last week, including nineteen dead in a single day on Tuesday, Israeli forces sealed the border completely.
The Guardian newspaper's Rory McCarthy tells the story of Moin al-Wadia, who was seriously injured during Tuesday's invasion. He lost his left foot to an Israeli tank shell, and has shrapnel throughout his right leg and stomach. He is facing infection and a lack of the necessary equipment to treat his serious wounds. Doctors have advised him to leave for treatment abroad. But now, with the border completely sealed, al-Wadia worries that he may become the 62nd individual to die from Israeli imprisonment inside Gaza.
The sealing of the border is just the latest stage in the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza. According to the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency, fifteen trucks containing food aid were prevented from entering on Friday. 80% of Gaza's population depends on the food aid for survival.