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Gaza Blockade: 'collective punishment' condemned

Warning of public health emergency in territory as even aid is cut off

Israel’s blocking of all fuel supplies to Gaza was condemned as collective punishment today as Amnesty International warned of an emerging public health emergency in the territory.

Amnesty International is calling for an immediate lifting of the fuel blockade and of other restrictions that have been preventing entry or exit of people and goods from the Israeli-occupied territory.

Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa programme director Malcolm Smart said:

"More than 40 seriously ill patients have died since the Israeli authorities closed Gaza's borders, so denying them access to hospital treatment abroad, but now the entire Gaza population is being put at risk as electricity and fuel supplies run out.

"This action appears calculated to make an already dire humanitarian situation worse, one in which the most vulnerable - the sick, the elderly, Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and Children's rights - will bear the brunt, not the men of violence who carry out attacks against Israel.

“Even crucial aid is not allowed to reach those that need it most in Gaza. These measures must be stopped and the passage of aid, fuel and electricity and other basic necessities must be allowed to resume immediately.

“The rocket attacks should cease, and immediately, but the entire population of Gaza should not be put at risk to bring this about."

Last week Amnesty International warned that a group of 13 seriously ill Palestinian patients - some with cancer - were at risk of dying because they were being prevented from leaving Gaza to receive vital medial treatment elsewhere. Approximately 40 seriously ill people have already died as a result of the Israeli authorities blocking passage out of Gaza because of unspecified “security” reasons.

Amnesty International has repeatedly acknowledged Israel’s right to take measures to protect its population from rocket and other attacks by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, but condemned the Israeli authorities’ decision to cut off the already tightly-restricted supplies of fuel, electricity and humanitarian assistance to Gaza's inhabitants.

Electricity and fuel, which have already been in short supply in Gaza for some time due to the Israeli blockades, are used to pump water and shortages have disastrous consequences for the health and well-being of a population already facing insufficient supplies of clean water for drinking and personal hygiene and inadequate sewage treatment and waste disposal. Already scarce food and medicines are getting spoilt as they cannot be refrigerated without power.

Amnesty International believes that the further tightening of the already stringent Israeli blockade imposed on the passage of goods into and out of Gaza will only prolong and worsen the paralysis of Gaza’s economy, which has already forced most of Gaza's population to live below the poverty line and depend on international aid.

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