The UN and Red Cross agree: the siege of Gaza is unsustainable — it must end

Although President Obama acknowledges that the situation in Gaza is “unsustainable”, he refuses to draw the obvious conclusion and insist that Israel’s siege must end. But if it can’t continue, it must end, right?

The International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN are happy to adopt Obama’s term (unsustainable) but are less willing to equivocate. Indeed, the Red Cross has gone even further and accuses Israel of breaking international law through its use of collective punishment.

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.

“The closure is having a devastating impact on the 1.5 million people living in Gaza”, said Béatrice Mégevand-Roggo, the ICRC’s head of operations for the Middle East. “That is why we are urging Israel to put an end to this closure and call upon all those who have an influence on the situation, including Hamas, to do their utmost to help Gaza’s civilian population. Israel’s right to deal with its legitimate security concerns must be balanced against the Palestinians’ right to live normal, dignified lives.”

The international community has to do its part to ensure that repeated appeals by States and international organizations to lift the closure are finally heeded.

Likewise, the UN is pushing for the blockade not merely to be “eased” or — to use Tony Blair’s language — made “softer” (suggestive of a more compassionate collective punishment?). No, the siege must end.

[T]he UN said Tuesday that an international consensus has emerged demanding that Israel lift the blockade of Gaza Strip and replace it with a “different and more positive strategy.”

“The flotilla crisis is the latest symptom of a failed policy,” said Robert Serry, the UN special envoy for Middle East peace process.

“The situation in Gaza is unsustainable and the current policy is unacceptable and counter-productive, and requires a different, more positive strategy,” Serry said during a UN Security Council session on the Middle East.

The closure and blockade of the Gaza Strip needs to come to an end,” he said. “There is now a welcome international consensus on Gaza.”

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3 thoughts on “The UN and Red Cross agree: the siege of Gaza is unsustainable — it must end

  1. Eleonora

    I’m always “amazed” when I read these cosmetically doctored-up phrases and terms by officials and politicians with respect to the Gazan blockade. They bend backwards over to somehow justify the injustifiable and to give it some legitimacy in pointing to the “legitimate security concerns” of Israel. So we have to conclude and accept that the Palestinians have no legitimate security concerns or they simply don’t count? After all Israel raids and invades Gaza and the West Bank at will whenever it pleases and kills and maims the inhabitants (or shall I say prisoners?) as a past time under some phony pretext …

    Would anyone today condone the Ghetto’s in which the Jews were confined to during the Nazi time? Would the Warsaw Ghetto – being the best known of them – acceptable and justifiable today? Was it then? Was the collective persecution of the Jews acceptable and justifiable just because there where a few bad apples among them? Would it be today?

    What then makes the Gaza Prison acceptable and justifiable at a time when we, the (in)human(e) race, are supposedly to be more advanced? The question is: more advanced in what? In torture, oppression, dehumanization, genozide? We are more advanced in what exactly?

    Why is the slow genozide of the Palestinians – initiated and orchestrated by Israel – acceptable when we have to commemorate on almost daily basis the Jewish Holocaust?

    To put the icing on the cake: we have the audacity to call those who don’t conform to “our” demands … terrorists?!

    Just as a reminder: Occupation is the disease – Violence is the symptom (© Uri Avnery)

    As long as the international communty accepts that Israel breaks all the laws and treaties in occupying foreign land and settling its religious radicals there nothing will get better and the Middle East will stay in turmoil. In simple terms: aim achieved. And all this with the help of the treacherous “moderate” Arab leaders lead by Mahmoud Abbas and Hosni Mubarak!

    As long as Israel has no partner for war there will never be peace.

  2. Christopher Hoare

    As long as the world accepts the failed creatures (Blair et al) appointed to mediate that which actually needs arbitration the possibility of true peace recedes. The first requirement for a sustainable peace between Israel and the Palestinians is for the US to step aside and let others do what US administrations have repeatedly proven themselves incapable of.

  3. Frigga

    When the representatives of our western countries do not do their job, or even worsen the international situation in supporting israeli crimes against humanity and war crimes, then the civil society is forced to do the job of our representatives. The Mavi Marmara is such an initiative to restore justice in Palestine and to break the illegal siege of Gaza. In acting with our responsibility against brutal force and state lawlessness we are at risk of being murdered by the same irresponsible leaders who are wolfs in the sheep’s clothing shouting “selfdefense”. This is unique in human history. History never has been more perverse: Covert agencies propagate like grocery shops, perpetrating falsh flag actions, justifying our democratic rough state politics “against terror”. Who still believe this usurpation of our western governments, deeply commited in the interntational crime system?

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