Today, 26 August 2015, marks the one-year anniversary of the end of Israel’s offensive against Gaza. Since the end of the war, little has changed to improve the lives of Palestinians there. Sixteen-year-old Karim Nofal is one of 3,436 Palestinian children who were injured during the 2014 Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip. He was severely injured and his leg had to be amputated after his home was shelled in Beit Hanoun on 21 July 2014.
After fleeing our house to a safer area, we returned one day when it was quiet and there was no shelling. We wanted to check on the house. I was playing on the computer at home while my father prepared a meal. My sisters were also in the house. At around 6:00 pm, Israeli forces shelled our home. When I tried to escape from the house, a bomb exploded near one of the windows. I felt something in my leg and fell. My dad carried me and ran.
Today, Karim is back to school after months of medical treatment, which included the fitting of a prosthetic leg and rehabilitation. His psychological state is severely affected by his injury and the harsh living conditions in Gaza. Karim suffers from depression and is unable to fully focus on his studies.
The 50-day Israeli offensive resulted in the killing of at least 2,217 Palestinians, including 556 children, and the injury of 11,231 Palestinians, 10 per cent of whom suffer permanent disability. In total, 32,028 residential houses were destroyed, affecting 43,503 families, including more than 125,000 children. Other buildings such as health care facilities, hospitals, mosques, churches, banks, and educational facilities, including pre-schools, schools, and universities, were completely destroyed or damaged. Al-Haq examined the illegality of Israel’s targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure in its report Divide and Conquer.
One year following the ceasefire, the Gaza Strip remains in ruins with no real reconstruction. Tens of thousands of Palestinians are still displaced in Gaza, with many living in caravans or tents. Currently, Gaza receives only 7.5 per cent daily of the construction materials required to cover housing demands; at this rate, it will take over 50 years to meet the housing needs therein.
The current status quo and overall humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire and unsustainable. In addition to the three Israeli attacks on Gaza over the past five years, the eight-year long closure of the Gaza Strip has exacerbated the situation and made “recovery” from each war impossible. The series of Israeli offensives on Gaza accompanied with the closure have destroyed basic infrastructure, such as water, electricity and sewage. These have had negative, serious impacts on the daily lives of civilians in Gaza, putting their lives at imminent risk. In 2015, the World Bank showed that Gaza has the highest unemployment rate in the world. Further, the imposed closure of the Gaza Strip, both on land and at sea, amounts to collective punishment and further fragments and isolates Palestinian communities.
Al-Haq calls on the international community to take immediate measures to end the closure of Gaza, and ensure accountability for Israel’s violations of international law. In doing so, the international community should implement the recommendations of the UN Commission of Inquiry, including by actively supporting the work of the International Criminal Court, exercising universal jurisdiction, and complying with extradition requests. Further, Al-Haq calls on Israel to provide reparation - in the form of restitution, compensation or satisfaction - for its violations of international law, and to lift the closure of Gaza immediately.
 Report of the independent commission of inquiry established pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution S-21/1, Advanced Edited Version, 15 June 2015, paragraph 89(d).