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Al Mezan Issues a Report on the Humanitarian Implications of Israel's Siege and Closure of Gaza

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1 October 2007 |Reference 28/2007

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights issued today a brief report on the humanitarian implications engendered by the Israeli siege and the closure of the Gaza Strip.
The report reviews Israel's policy of siege and closure, which represent a violation of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and the International Human Rights Law, and the repercussions of this policies on the economy and on the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, particularly after Israel limited the goods it allows into Gaza to nine items of food and medical supplies.
The report highlights the Israeli threats to gradually cut-off electricity and fuel supplies; which could spark humanitarian, health and environmental crises, within a very short time.
The report provides details on projects that have been suspended owing to the shortage of raw materials; especially in the construction sector.
The report highlights the suffering of Gazans who have been stranded inside Gaza and need to leave it for health, education, and employment or family unification reasons; in violation of their rights.
It includes the names of Gazans who died in Egypt while waiting to enter Gaza.
Those were allowed to enter Gaza as dead.
The report considers the siege as a systematic form of collective punishment that has aimed to destroy the Palestinian economy progressively since the outbreak of Al Aqsa Intifada in September 2000.
It provides figures from Al Mezan's documentation on the homes and public and private facilities that have been demolished, and the agricultural land razed by the IOF; hence viewing the siege as only one of other measures that targeted the Palestinian economy and aim to render the Palestinians dependant on humanitarian aid.
In its summary, the report asserts that the continuation of the closure and siege imposed on Gaza by IOF target civilians.
This policy represents a serious violation of IHL; especially the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War (FGC), and human rights standards.
International law prohibits the policy of collective punishment against civilians under all circumstances.
Article 33 of the FGC states that "[N]o protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed.
Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.
Pillage is prohibited.
Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited".
In light of this, the report calls on the international community to uphold its obligations towards the civilian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), to lift the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and to exert pressure on Israel to stop its aggression against the Palestinians and their prosperity.
The international community should insure respect of the IHL and human rights standards by Israel.
It also asserts that the civilians' suffering in OPT must not be politicized.