From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Closure of Gaza Causes Suffering

Date 21 May 1996 14:36:18

News from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

May 21, 1996


The military closure of the Gaza Strip by Israel denies
movement of people and goods, causing hardship for the
Palestinian residents.  The majority of workers cannot
travel to jobs in Israel.  The action prevents people from
providing the necessities of life for families and damages
Gaza's economic base.  Fishing is restricted and Gazan
students cannot travel to schools and universities in the
West Bank.  Action by Churches Together (ACT) is
raising funds to provide basic health, welfare relief and
education grants in support of the most critical needs of
poor families.  ACT is a worldwide network of churches,
including the Lutheran World Federation, meeting human
need through coordinated emergency response.  Although
Israel claims to have eased the closure recently, ACT's
partner, the Middle East Council of Churches Department
of Service to Palestinian Refugees, reports worsening
conditions for the 934,000 people living in the tiny (360
square kilometers) area governed by the Palestinian
National Authority.  Shortages of basic commodities are
reported.  Shipments of flowers and fruits for export have
been left rotting at check points.  Restrictions on the flow
of goods, including raw materials for construction, are
severe.  Taxes and duties which help to operate the
Palestinian Authority have dropped dramatically.  In an
economy which before closure had an unemployment rate
of 60 percent, the closures have added more jobless to the
rolls.  Health care is jeopardized because most Gazan
patients must travel outside for specialist treatment.  Since
closure, authorities have withheld permission from
Palestinians trying to visit relatives in prison inside Israel.
The Lutheran World Federation is a worldwide
communion of 122 member churches, including the
Evangelical Lutheran Church is America.

[ELCA News and Information: 8765 W. Higgins Road,
Chicago, IL 60631; phone 312/380-2958.

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