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Christian charity says millions still suffering on 50th anniversary of Israeli occupation

by Tola Mbakwe

According to the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), 4.7 million Palestinians are living under an occupation of Gaza and the West Bank that is illegal under international humanitarian law.

Mary Lucas is the Programme Manager for Middle East and Asia for CAFOD.

She recently visited the region and told Premier News Hour about the challenges Palestinians face.

She said: "In Gaza for instance, the situation there is really quite critical.

"Currently they only get about four hours of electricity a day, which is obviously having an enormous impact on hospitals and daily life in general ".

Lucas added that in the West Bank people require permits to visit Jerusalem and are required to pass through check points on a daily basis.

She explained she met people who are third and fourth generation of Palestinians who don't know what it's like to be free and other Israelis who don't know what it's like not to be an occupier.

She said: "There were people who kind of felt nothing much is going to change but others who were still full of hope, full of creativity and really wanting to challenge the status quo".

On the 50th anniversary, CAFOD is calling for the international community and the UK government to stop the situation and intensify efforts for peace.

There have been various attempts at peace talks but they stopped in 2004.

Lucas added: "We believe we have to undertake more influencing and advocacy of our own government.

"In this very symbolic time, we hope to be able to push for action and ask that question, 'are we going to let that anniversary pass, or will 2017 be the year we do something positive or creative to secure peace?'"

Listen to Mary Lucas speaking with Premier's Tola Mbakwe:

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