Red Cross says Israel’s blockade is illegal


Israeli border guards demonstrate their respect for civil dissent
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has described Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip as a violation of the Geneva Conventions and called on the Israeli government to lift it.

The organisation called the blockade “collective punishment“, a crime under international law. It described Gaza as a territory plagued by frequent power cuts, a ruined economy, and a collapsed health care system…

“Gazans continue to suffer from unemployment, poverty and warfare, while the quality of Gaza’s health care system has reached an all-time low…”

Beatrice Megevand-Roggo, the head of the ICRC’s Middle East operations, told Al Jazeera that the organisation – which traditionally remains neutral – was reluctant to publicly criticise the blockade. But she said three years of quiet efforts to ease the embargo did not result in any progress.

“The result has not been what we expected, and we thought that after three years the situation was dire enough, serious enough, to speak out publicly to try to break this closure of Gaza,” she said…

In Luxembourg on Monday, foreign ministers from the European Union condemned the Gaza blockade as “unacceptable and counterproductive,” and called for immediate and unconditional opening of crossings for humanitarian aid…

B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organisation, released its own report on Monday documenting dire conditions in the Palestinian territories. The group noted that 95 per cent of Gaza’s factories have closed, that 98 per cent of residents suffer from blackouts, and that 93 per cent of Gaza’s water is polluted…

Meanwhile, Congress and the White House works to maintain a special relationship founded in guilt from 3 or 4 generations ago.

If the U.S. government, today, lived up to the standards it admits to selling out – when 20 million Jews and Slavs, Eastern Europeans and Russians were being slaughtered by Nazi Germany – unconditional support of the Israeli government would come an immediate halt.

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