On 16 August 2017, Mr. Younis and civil society figures in Gaza held a meeting by video-conference with a delegation from the US Consulate in Jerusalem and USAID. The delegation included Deputy Consul General, Mike Hankey, the USAID mission’s Director in the West Bank and Gaza, Monica Stein-Olson, the mission’s deputy director, Courtney Chabb, Gaza coordinator, Daniel Morris, and the development assistant specialist at the mission, Nisrin Nuzayen. The delegation also included Mary Vargas and Cynthia Cook from the US Consulate General in Jerusalem.
The delegation was briefed on the dire humanitarian and human rights conditions in the Gaza Strip under the Israeli closure and intra-Palestinian political division. Mr. Younis pointed to the recent serious deterioration in the provision of basic services in Gaza, which follows the reduction of power supplies to four hours per day, and exacerbate the economic and health sector crises. Mr. Younis stressed that despite the humanitarian impacts of the situation, this remains a political crisis that requires political solutions.
On Monday, 15 August 2017, Al Mezan and representatives from prominent human rights organizations in Gaza met with Mr. Ralph Tarraf, the European Union Representative in Jerusalem. Mr. Younis referenced the need for basic human rights to be respected in Gaza and voiced concern over the surging levels of poverty and unemployment, in particular among the younger generations.
The participants also spoke about the impact on families of the Palestinian Authority’s decision to forcibly retire its employees in Gaza. The thousands of families affected already maintain low economic status, and their resources will now be further depleted.
In closing, the organizations urged the EU representative to immediately appeal to EU member states for concrete steps to stop further settlements expansion in the West Bank, lift the Gaza closure/blockade, push for Palestinian internal reconciliation, and ensure protection, safety and dignity of civilians.