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Why Israel’s Blockade on Gaza is Illegal

From Samah Sabawi, Palestinian Advocate for Australians for Palestine.

Who says Israel blockade of Gaza is illegal and is a violation of international humanitarian Law? Here are a few and there are many more where these come from:

1) U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay “Israel’s blockade of Gaza is illegal and should be lifted” “International humanitarian law prohibits starvation of civilians as a method of warfare and…it is also prohibited to impose collective punishment on civilians” http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/06/05/us-israel-flotilla-un-idUSTRE6541JD20100605

2) UN Panel of Human Rights Experts published report compiled by by a former UN war crimes prosecutor Desmond de Silva, a judge from Trinidad, Karl Hudson-Phillips, and a Malaysian women’s rights advocate, Mary Shanthi Dairiam. They reiterated “the Israeli blockade of the Palestinian enclave is illegal because of the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/23/un-panel-israel-war-crimes

3) Amnesty International “As a form of collective punishment, Israel’s continuing blockade of Gaza is a flagrant violation of international law.” http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/suffocating-gaza-israeli-blockades-effects-palestinians-2010-06-01

4) Gisha “The closure of Gaza is neither a siege, nor a blockade, nor an economic sanction – it is an illegal act of collective punishment and stands in violation of both international and Israeli law.” http://www.gisha.org/UserFiles/File/publications/GazaClosureDefinedEng.pdf

5) The International Committee of the Red Cross “the blockade violates the Geneva Convention, which bans “collective punishment” of a civilian population.” The ICRC called on Israel to lift the blockage. http://www.voanews.com/english/news/Red-Cross-Israels-Gaza-Blockade-Breaks-International-Law-96280463.html

6) Human Rights Watch “The blockade, which amounts to the unlawful collective punishment of Gaza’s civilian population, has severely damaged the economy, leaving 70 to 80 percent of Gazans in poverty and dependent on humanitarian aid.” http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/05/31/israel-full-impartial-investigation-flotilla-killings-essential

7) Center for Constitutional Rights “Israel’s position is that a lawful maritime blockade is in effect off the coast of Gaza. International law recognizes blockades in the context of armed conflicts, but it does not recognize a blockade by a country against a territory which it is occupying” http://ccrjustice.org/newsroom/press-releases/ccr-condemns-israel%26%23039;s-killing-freedom-flotilla-participants

8) OXFAM “Though Israel has the duty to protect its citizens, it cannot impose a blockade on every civilian in Gaza. This constitutes collective punishment, which is illegal under international law. The EU should make any future upgrade in economic and political relations dependent on the end of the blockade.” http://www.oxfam.org/pressroom/pressrelease/2010-03-17/eu-foreign-policy-chief-gaza-blockade

9) The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.Mr. Richard Falk “In the Gaza Strip, the illegal blockade continued to violate the human rights of Palestinians in Gaza, despite the much proclaimed “easing” of the blockade by Israel in 2010.” http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=10871&LangID=E

10) Ambassador Craig Murray, an internationally recognized authority on maritime jurisdiction and naval boarding issues. He is former Alternate Head of the UK Delegation to the United Nations Preparatory Commission on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. He was deputy head of the teams which negotiated the UK’s maritime boundaries with France, Germany, Denmark (Faeroe Islands) and Ireland. “San Remo only applies to blockade in times of armed conflict. Israel is not currently engaged in an armed conflict, and presumably does not wish to be. San Remo does not confer any right to impose a permanent blockade outwith times of armed conflict, and in fact specifically excludes as illegal a general blockade on an entire population.” http://www.freedomflotilla.eu/en/information/13-opinion/130-the-blockade-is-illegal-no-matter-what-israel-claims

11} UNSC Resolution 1860 “Calls for the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including of food, fuel and medical treatment” http://daccess-dds ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N09/204/32/PDF/N0920432.pdf?OpenElement

12) The United Church in Canada http://www.countercurrents.org/uc110610.htm

13) Other groups who signed on a report (see link below) calling the blockade illegal:

  1. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL UK
  2. BROE DERLIJK DELEN
  3. CAFOD
  4. CCFD-TERRE SO LIDAIRE
  5. CHRISTIAN AID
  6. CHURCH OF SWEDEN
  7. CORDAID
  8. DIAKONIA
  9. EURO-MEDITERRANEA N HUMAN RIGHTS NETWORK (EMHRN)
  10. HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL
  11. ICCO
  12. IKV PAX CHRISTI
  13. INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (FIDH)
  14. MEDICAL AID FOR PALESTINIANS
  15. MEDICO INTERNATIONAL
  16. MERLIN
  17. MS ACTION AID DENMARK
  18. NORWEGIAN REFUGEE COUNCIL (NRC)
  19. QUAKER COUNCIL FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS
  20. OXFAM INTERNATIONAL
  21. Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT )
  22. REDD BARNA
  23. SAVE THE CHILDREN UK
  24. TROCAIRE
  25. UCP

“Dashed Hopes” published by the above organizations about Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza
http://www.oxfam.org.uk/resources/policy/conflict_disasters/downloads/dashed-hopes-continuation-gaza-blockade-301110-en.pdf

Related Links

Freedom Flotilla 2 Assailed by Piratical Scuttlebutt – other relevant international law

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