Al Mezan Center for Human Rights received a number of European diplomats and activists at its office during the past week.
Issam Younis, Director of the Center, briefed the visitors on the humanitarian and human rights conditions in the Gaza Strip, particularly in light of Israel's siege and the Palestinian political divide.
Younis pointed out that the continuous, choking siege severely impacts on the humanitarian conditions of civilians and rapidly exacerbates the economic and social conditions.
The siege is the main source of human rights violations in Gaza, he said.
He criticized the continuous silence of the international community while an illegal, unjust siege is being imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip's population.
This siege, he highlighted, is a form of collective punishment by an occupying Power against an occupied population.
It puts at risk the life and wellbeing of the entire population, and particularly the most vulnerable groups such as children, women, the elderly and the sick.
Furthermore, it violates the well-established legal standards set out by international law.
This siege must not be tolerated, he emphasized.
Younis also pointed at the international community's legal and ethical responsibilities towards civilians, which dictate that that those civilians must be aided and protected.
The international community, he asserted, is under an obligation to condemn and bring to an end Israel's behavior that contradicts the standards of human rights and rules of the IHL.
In addition, Mr.
Younis condemned the Palestinian internal divide, which has only served to exacerbate an already difficult situation and impacts on Palestinians daily life.
He discussed the prospects of the Egypt-sponsored Palestinian dialogue, which bears the potential to end the political divide that continues to ruin the foundations of the Palestinian political system.
This divide has brought about serious human rights violations in the OPT.
It must end, he stressed, without any delay.
On Wednesday morning, 29 October 2008, Mr.
Younis and Mr.
Mahmoud Abu Rahma, the Center's Communication and International Relations Coordinator, met with a Swedish delegation of four diplomats, including Anna Brodin, Consul/ Political Affairs, and Eva Nilsson, Advisor to the EU Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, at the Center's headquarters in Gaza City.
On the same day, Mr.
Younis met with Mr.
Chris Merritt, the British Political Consul.
They also received Ms.
Anne Wagner, the Human Rights and Media Officer of the German Representative Office to the Palestinian Authority in Gaza on Monday, 27 October 2008.
Later on the same day, the Center's Director met Mr.
Mario Carera, Head of the Office of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Mr.
Mazen Sahqoura, Director of SDC's Gaza Office, and Ms.
Yvonne Fredriksson, representative of the Palestine Solidarity Association – Sweden.