Siege of the Gaza Strip Rises to the level of a war crime for which the Israeli occupation bears direct responsibility, followed by the Arab Republic of Egypt
The Gaza Strip continues to endure a suffocating economic siege that subjects the civilian population to substantial harm and affects various aspects of human rights there. The Israeli occupation forces have intensified their siege of Gaza after the Hamas movement took control of it on 12/6/2007.
The Israeli occupation state has declared the Gaza Strip an enemy entity, the matter that justified greater aggression against the population there (knowing that the Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip never stopped). Israel also believes that this decision absolves it of its international commitments to the civilian population, especially as it is party to the fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 relative to the protection of civilians. One of the most important means of intensifying the siege on Gaza is the closure of the international Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and the Arab Republic of Egypt.
The siege also causes very severe human hardships that extend to all aspects of life there. Thus many patients have died because they couldn't get treatment outside the Gaza Strip. The economic life was hit as well by great paralysis; and the siege has also prevented hundreds of college students from reaching their universities outside the Gaza Strip… The Arab Republic of Egypt bears legal responsibility to the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness), as it views the siege as a kind of collective punishment, as a blatant breach of the fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, and as constituting a war crime in the legal sense of the word and a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in view of all the above, emphasizes the following:
From a legal standpoint, the Gaza Strip is still under occupation, and that entails plenty of responsibilities on the occupation state, which is Israel. There is no legal or conventional justification for imposing a siege on the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip.
The suffocating economic siege of the Gaza Strip in all its aspects represents a flagrant violation of the international humane law, and it rises to the level of a war crime punishable by the relevant international law.
The Arab Republic of Egypt bears legal and moral responsibility for the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, in particular for its effective contribution to the closure of the Rafah crossing in the face of civilians. And the excuse that Egypt offers, which is that the opening and closure of the crossing is the result of an international agreement, cannot be accepted in view of the cruel human consequences on the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, the international agreements that don't respect human rights are null and void.
The Association calls on the Egyptian civil society organizations to exert pressure on their government to help the civilian population of the Gaza Strip enjoy their rights, in particular those related to freedom of travel and movement.
It calls on the United Nations to offer help and assistance to the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, and to exert effective and strong pressure on Israel to lift its siege.
It calls on mass media outlets to focus upon the terrible human conditions that the siege imposes on the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, and upon the fact that the Gaza Strip is still in fact under occupation because the two bases of occupation, the abstract and the concrete, are still there.
Palestinian Association for Human Rights - Witness