Press Release: 'Gaza Unlocked' shows life under occupation

Press contact:
Mike Merryman-Lotze, AFSC, 215-241-7162
Jennifer Bing, AFSC, (312) 427-2533 x19

New site from AFSC calls for an end to blockade

Philadelphia, PA (March 15, 2017) The American Friends Service Committee – a century old peace and justice organization – recently launched a new project called “Gaza Unlocked,” an online multimedia effort that documents the hardships of life for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and blockade in Gaza. For over 10 years, two million Palestinians in Gaza have lived under an Israeli-imposed blockade that severely limits travel, trade, and livelihood. Gaza Unlocked compiles stories from everyday people about the effects of the blockade on their daily life.

“The experiences of people in Gaza are generally kept out of the headlines and far from the minds of political leaders who allow this blockade to persist,” said Jennifer Bing, director of AFSC’s Palestine-Israel program. “Our hope is that sharing the stories of Palestinians living under the blockade, the hardships they face and their resilience and steadfastness in the face of these obstacles will inspire people to take action.”

The American Friends Service Committee has a long history of working with Palestinians in Gaza, dating back to its relief work following the 1948 War. The organization has also run youth programs in Gaza, which continue today.

The website compiles firsthand accounts and photos from people from all walks of life, from architects to students, factory owners to public servants. It also allows users to learn the facts on specific issues impacted by the blockade, and hear directly from people who are dealing with the consequences. The site documents how the blockade has negatively affected education, electricity, employment, healthcare, freedom of movement, and access to shelter and water.

For example, Ahmed Hamza, a Gaza resident and student, writes, “For me, the blockade is a continuous problem faced every day. You can’t plan your life in Gaza. You live day to day. It is impossible to plan for longer. And the blockade keeps you constantly busy. For two or three days, you might be busy thinking about gas and how to get gas. Then you have a problem with water. Then it is another problem. The power crisis is always at the back of your mind. Drones are constantly overhead.”

Gaza Unlocked creators hope that the website will become a place for journalists, policy makers, and the general public to familiarize themselves with both the people of Gaza and the hardships caused by the U.S.-backed Israeli government’s policies.

“The blockade is designed to keep people in the dark,” said Mike Merryman-Lotze, director of AFSC’s Palestine-Israel program. “Our campaign is shining a light on these injustices in order to reverse this failed policy and work towards peace.”

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The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. Drawing on continuing spiritual insights and working with people of many backgrounds, we nurture the seeds of change and respect for human life that transform social systems.