The respected International Committee for the Red Cross has released a statement denouncing Israel’s blockade of Gaza as a violation of international law.
The ICRC stated today that
As the ICRC has stressed repeatedly, the dire situation in Gaza cannot be resolved by providing humanitarian aid. The closure imposed on the Gaza Strip is about to enter its fourth year, choking off any real possibility of economic development. Gazans continue to suffer from unemployment, poverty and warfare, while the quality of Gaza’s health care system has reached an all-time low.
The whole of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility. The closure therefore constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law.
It also denounced Hamas for its obstruction of efforts to see Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is about to enter his fifth year in captivity.
Part of the problem is that Israeli officials have made statements that the restriction on everything from candy to medical equipment to water systems has been in retaliation for both Shalit’s capture and the Hamas victory in the elections. That supports the claim of collective punishment and goes beyond searches for weapons.
Now, we may be seeing an even more dangerous confrontation as Iran sends ships to try to run the blockade.
Notably, Israel has just loosened restrictions on candy, spices, and shaving cream. It would have been better if those restrictions had not been in place for the outset. The strongest claim for Israel is the need to search for weapons. It has undermined its case for years through these other restrictions.