Micheál Martin, the foreign minister of Ireland, in the New York Times:
Last week I visited Gaza, the first European Union foreign minister to do so in over a year. My purpose was very much a humanitarian one, to see for myself the impact of a blockade that has now been imposed on the people of Gaza for some two-and-a-half years and to meet with the courageous and dedicated staff of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), including its director of operations, Irishman John Ging. They play an indispensable role in maintaining vital humanitarian services to the people of Gaza.
From my arrival in Gaza, the deprivations and hardships resulting from the blockade were all too evident. Visiting an UNRWA food distribution center, I could see for myself the despair and suffering etched in the faces of those who queued for the most basic rations of rice, milk powder and sunflower oil. Eighty percent of the population of Gaza now lives below the poverty line and UNRWA is encountering increasing levels of abject poverty where people basically do not have enough food, even with their meager food allocations, to live.
The tragedy of Gaza is that it is fast in danger of becoming a tolerated humanitarian crisis, a situation that most right-thinking people recognize as utterly unacceptable in this day and age but which is proving extremely difficult to remedy or ameliorate due to the blockade and the wider ramifications of efforts to try and achieve political progress in the Middle East.