I have just returned from a three day fact finding mission to the Gaza strip. I went with a British parliamentary delegation and other members of the Britain-Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) to assess the effects of the on-going blockade and limited reconstruction efforts, over one year on from Israel's invasion which left 1,400 Palestinians dead.
The lack of reconstruction in Gaza fourteen months after Operation Cast Lead is truly astonishing. I saw first hand the homes, schools and hospitals that continue to lie in ruin, because Israel refuses to allow access for the concrete, steel and glass that are so desperately required to rebuild shattered infrastructure. Where reconstruction has taken place it is because of supplies brought in through the smuggling tunnels that I visited.What I found most humbling was the resiliance of the people of Gaza and their desire to rebuild.
Israel must allow the necessary materials in; it is in their interests as well as the people of Gaza that the Palestinians are allowed to rebuild their homes and schools, without enriching those that control smuggling rackets.
I am doing all I can to urge the European Union to take concerted action to end the seige of the territory.