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Blockade on Gaza: Crime against humanity

by Astrid Essed Thursday, Feb. 14, 2008 at 2:44 PM

With the whole or partly blockade on Gaza, the Israeli authorities are guilty of crimes against humanity

No electricity, people are going hungry, no bread, and no medicine and lots of things that are missing. people are out in the streets now calling for the world to end the starvation and siege. It might be that people's only option is to break out the borderline and go to Egypt and get food. It's scary here. no bread, no water at home where I am. I have some leftovers biscuits from two days ago. but my laptop batteries will be flat soon. I will find a new agency from those who have electricity generators to recharge my laptop and keep online, if you don't hear from me this is why. Again, I fear Israeli warplanes will bomb the people in the streets. people are in lines trying to find bread. I never seen this in all my 23 years life!´ Mohammed Omer


Only prompt, innovative and courageous political action can change the harsh reality of this long-standing occupation, restore normal social and economic life to the Palestinian people, and allow them to live their lives in dignity ''

Report of the International Red Cross ''Dignity Denied''


This article is dedicated to the people of Gaza


To the people of Gaza

Keep up courage, however hard
An occupationregime, which is based on injustice and oppression, will not have the last word

The right on freedom and selfdetermination is one of the elementary human rights

In solidarity

Astrid Essed

The first, horrifying quote is an appeal for help by the Gazan reporter Mohammed Omer, as he has sent several in the last weeks of january [1]

It referred to the recent total Israeli blockade on Gaza, which has been eased only after heavy international pressure
From her network [netwerk] the writer of this article received an SMS regarding the recent Israeli bombing of the Palestinian ministery of Interior

I quote:

'' Just now. Blood and flesh. 20 people just killed in the ministry of interior and a wedding now.. More bomings.Are called today. M [2]

January 17, 2008, 15.40 hrs Netherlands time''

More than extensive reports or this article, the quotes and SMS's from Mohammed Oner, which have been confirmed by other sources, show the Israeli crimes against the people of Gaza, which can be qualified as crimes against humanity

Shocking is also the appeal from the usually neutral International Red Cross for ''courageous political actions'' [3]

A Israeli blockades and the humanitarian consequences for the Gazan civilian population

Yet apart from the daily misery, caused by the regular Israeli military attacks, the Gazan civilian population has paid a high humanitarian price since the American-EU boycot, in reaction on the democratical electoral victory of Hamas dd january 2006
This boycot was soon followed by the systematic Israeli blockades of Gaza

A Humanitarian price:

A considerable lack of medicines and primary necessities of life, especially due to the recent Israeli blockades, are the direct humanitarian consequences
More specified: The lack of elecricity is obstucting vital services, among else hospitals
Operating rooms, sewage pumps and water well pumps all need electricity to run

The most horrifying examples are the number of sick people, who have died at the frontier between Israel and Gaza, or in Gazan hospitals, because admission to Israeli hospitals for further treatment were denied
Also sick people are waiting in Gaza for an opportunity to get treated in an Israeli hospital [4]

1 Israeli declaration of Gaza as ''hostile territory''

In september 2007, the Israeli authorities declared Gaza as ''hostile territory''
According to the points of view of the Israeli government and army this means, that all Gazan inhabitants, whether fighters or civilians, are being considered being ''legitimate military targets''

This is no ''incident'', but systematic Israeli military behaviour
For example, during the military attack on Lebanon dd july 2006, the Israeli authorities considered Lebanese civilians, who didn't fled from Sourhern Lebanon, as ''legitimate military targets'' [5]

Not only such a military attitude against an unarmed civilian population is disgusting, moreover it is violating International Humanitarian Law, which states, that at all times, by all parties to a conflict, a clear distinction must be made between combatants [military and fighters] and non-combatants [civilians]

Also this illegal ''Israeli declaration'' is not only a ''justification'' for the following Israeli blockades of Gaza [which took place also before that time], but as well a ''legitimation'' for the Israeli indiscriminate military attacks on Gaza

2 System in the Evil
Israeli military attacks in Gaza

In earlier comments, the writer of this article has stipulated on the fact, that the Israeli military attacks on Gaza, on the pretext of searching for Palestinian fighters, are contrary with International Humanitarian Law, because any distinction is lacking between civilians and fighters , as well regarding indiscriminate military shooting-behaviour in Gazan refugee-camps and living areas, as regarding airbombings on refugee-camps and dense populated areas with non-precision weapons as F'16 's [6]

The tragic consequence over the years has been the hugh amount of civilian victims

Those deadly victims are also being caused by the illegal Israeli extrajudicial executions of leaders and activists of Palestinian political organisations, by shootings of cars in crowded streets and market-places and airbombings on living areas, refugeecamps and living appartments

Recently, one Palestinian woman has been killed as result of an air-bombing on the Palestinian Ministry of Interior dd 17-1
40 people were injured

3 Israeli blockades on Gaza

Like said before, the Israeli Gaza-blockades aren't a new phenomenon, but a relatively old ''tactic'', with devastating consequences for the civilian population


Many Gazans are dependant on work in Israel for the bare necessities of life
So due to the blockade , they and their families are seriously hurt

Humanitarian consequences: Medical and foodcrisis


The medical situation in Gaza also is a reason for grave concern, due to the blockade of fuel and electricity, as well by the fysical blockade of the population.
In the first case, due to the lack of electricity, operating rooms can't function well, in the second place, as already been said, sick people are not allowed to cross the frontier for medical help in Israeli hospitals

And to make the situation still worse:

An important part of medical supplies can't reach the sick people in Gaza either, due to the blockade


According to article 55, 4th Geneva Convention, the Occupying Power, in casu Israel, has the duty of ensuring food and medical supplies to the occupied population
It is clear, that by blocking those supplies, wholly or partially, Israel is violating the Convention

Due to those blockades, there is an outbreak of famine, because Gaza is largerly dependant on international help
Another cause of the humanitarian crisis is the already named internationl American and EU boycot, since the election-victory of Hamas, dd january 2006

International reaction on the total Israeli blockade on Gaza

As a reaction on the heavy international pressure regarding the total blockade on Gaza [january 2008], Israel had been compelled to allow a small amount of fuel and other supplies again

However it may be obvious, that only a total end of the blockade can really contribute to the end of the humanitarian crisis

Therefore it was an important relief to the Gazan population, that the Egyptian authorities temporatily decided to open the borders, for buying food-supplies
Alas, borders have been closed again after negociations with Hamas

Israels obligation as occupying Power

Already has been mentioned the disgusting aspect of this dirty war against the civilian population

Another important fact is, that Israel is still the occupying Power in Gaza and has therefore the responsibility to guarantee the safety, wellbeing and welfare of the occupied population

Although Israel declares, not being an occupying power anymore, since the withdrawal of the Israeli troops in 2005, this is not true, because Israel still controls the air, land and sea-borders of Gaza

Collective punishment

Those blockades which are doing harm to the civilian population as a whole, are a ''collective punishment'' which is strictly forbidden according International Law [7]

4 Israel's ''justification''

The Iraeli military actions or blockades are often justified by Israel, as a ''retaliation'' for Palestinian military actions like the unlawful Palestinian rocket-attacks on the Israeli city Sderot

However, this is no excuse justification for Israel, to violate the human rights of the Palestinian civilian population
According to International Law, all conflictsparties and at all times, have an obligation to make a strict disctinction between military and fighters [combatants] and civilians [non-combatants]

The Palestinian rocket-attacks on Sderot and other Israeli civilian areas:

Seeing from this perspective, also the arbitrary Palestinian rocket-attacks on Sderot or other Israeli civilian areas are illegal according International Law [8]
Although they are mostly just damaging the city [Sderot], not seldom Israeli civilian death and wounded are to be mourned

Just like in the Israeli case, those rocket attacks are serious human rights violations , because no distinction has been made between civilians and the military

Because of this international obligation at all times to make this disctinction, the Palestinian argument is no valid, that this is an asymmetrical conflict, however understandable it may seem [9]

At all times as well Israeli as the Palestinian must be protected by both parties to the conflict

5 Israeli blockade


Not yet is mentioned the fact, that those Israeli blockades against an unarmed, defenseless civilian population is a crime against humanity

For your information:

According to the Statute of the ICC [International Criminal Court], one of the categories of crimes of humanity are ''inhuman actions with an international and systematic character'' [10]

In this respect, the systematic Israeli blockades [wholly or partially] of Gaza can be qualified as such, since the Israeli authorities are aware of the fact, that the civilian population is seriously hurt.

In this respect it need to be said, that the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian population on the occupied Westbank is very grave too, because of the building of the Wall, the expansion of the illegal settlements, the checkpoints and the systematic Israeli military retaliatory measures [11)
For more information I refer to the recent report of the International Red Cross ''Dignity Denied'' [12]

6 Head and co-responsibility

It is obvious, that the Israeli authorities are head-responsible for the humanitarian disaster in the occupied Palestinian territories.

However, they are not the sole responsibles

One of the main co responsibles is the USA, by continuing economical, political and especially military support to Israel.
Also the USA is the leading power in the international boycot of the dd 2006 democratically elected Hamas-government, from which in the first place, the Gazan population is the victim

However, the co responsibility of the EU should not be forgotten, not only in maintaining the Hamas-boycot, but also by her policy '' no actions, but words'', crying crocodilestears about Israeli human rights violations, without putting any political pressure on Israel [13]

7 The key, the Israeli occupation:

The main denial of the Western countries seems however to be the fact, that the crux of the contemporary Middle East-conflicts is based on the 40 years Israeli occupation, settlementspolicy and the humanitarian consequences of that occupation, as oppression, humiliations and human rights violations.

Their policy is not based on the implementation of UN Security resolution nr 242 dd 1967, the dismantling of the Israeli Wall, which is building through Palestinian occupied area and the dismantling of the illegal Israeli settlements. [14]

For this reason, every ''peace-initiative'' is doomed to fail, because yet besides of the American/EU denial of the Israeli occupation, there are no equal parties, but a negociation between oppressor and oppressed

The Palestinian military attacks on Israeli civilian goals are reprehensible and illegal, but the direct cause is lying in the continuation of the Israeli occupation, the creating ¨ of ´´facts on the grounds´´ by the expansion of the settlements and the building of the Wall, and not to forget the Israeli military actions, which cause many civilian death.

The only way to create a lasting peace in the Middle East is rooted in the implementation of as well the UN resolutions, as the other humanitarian rights treaties, like the Geneva Conventions

An old proverb is telling us
What goes around, comes around

Continuation of the occupation, as well as the starvation of the Palestinian civilian population will cause a further polarisation, with all desastrous consequences

Astrid Essed
The Netherlands

Notes and links

[1] Mohammed Omer is a 23 years old journalist from Rafah, in Gaza, who from his 16 years is reporting , with great personal risk, about the political and humanitarian consequences of the Israeli occupation, especially about house demolitions [from which he and his family became victim, too], Israeli military operations and the liquidations of Palestinian activists and political leaders

See also:

Shocking photographs about the humanitarian situation in Gaza


[2] The SMS about the Israeli military attack on the Palestinian Ministry of Interior was an emergency SMS
The consequence was, that the number of dead people [20] was wrong, after checking the news
By this military attack, one woman had been killed and 40 people were injured

[3] See the Red Cross report ''Dignity denied''

[4] See

[5] See

[6] See the essential rules of International Humanitarian Law:

[7] According to article 33, 4th Geneva Convention, a collective punishment is strictly forbidden


[8] Those Palestinian rocket-attacks take place with insufficiently accurate weapons, with all risks involved for the Israeli civilian population
This is contrary with International Humanitarian Law, which demands for all parties to the conflict, a strict distinction between military and civilians


The assymetrical conflict is referring to the high technical Israeli army versus the low technical Palestinian fighters and their very limited means


[10] Other important categories of ''crimes of humanity'' are genocide, slavery, racial perscution and arbitrary detention and torture



The Wall:

The building of the Israeli Wall is illegal according to the verdict of the IJC [International Court of Justice] dd july 2005, among else on the fact, that it runs through Palestinian occupied area
According to the the Hague Convention of 1907, it is not allowed for an occupying country, to change the geografical character of the occupied territories

The settlements:

Despite of international protests and the agreements in the Roadmap of Peace, Israel still is expanding the settlements in the Westbank
According to article 49, 4th Geneva Convention, all Israeli settlements in the Palestinian occupied territories are illegal
This has been also confirmed in two UN Security Resolutions dd 1979, which demanded as well the direct stop on new settlements and the dismantling of already existing settlements
Besides the illegality, the humanitarian consequences have been systematic Palestinian land-expropriations through the years.
Because of that, more than 100.000 Palestinians have lost their houses and lands
This is also a violation of article 53, 4th Geneva Convention

The checkpoints:

The checkpoints are military controleposts through the whole occupied Westbank, seriously hindering the freedom of movement of the Palestinians
At each checkpoint, Palestinians are being asked for their ID and further the policy of the checkpoint varies, according the situation
Occasionally men of a certain age [mostly between 16 till 35] can be refused to cross over, also it can be forbidden for all Palestinians to travel by foot or by vehicle
It is also possible that individuals can be refused, without any serious reason

Since the checkpoints are being placed between neighouring villages, a travel of a couple of hours can last days, when permit is refused and people are obliged to seek for an alternative travelroute

Apart from this serious breach on the freedom of movement, the checkpoint-policy varies from checkpoint to checkpoint and time to time, which is totally arbitrary

A form of discrimination is also, that for Israeli's [mosty settlers], there is no travelrestriction at all
Further there are special roads [bypassroads] which are permitted for the Israeli army and settlers only, which is a serious form of discrimination

Yet apart from this discrimination and lack of freedom of movement, in many cases, the common treatment of the Palestinian population varies of lack of respect till inhuman behaviour.
An example is the sometimes refusal of pregnant women to travel, so that they have to give birth to the baby at the checkpoint

In the Westbank there are 99 checkpoints
Sometimes however, the army installs temporary checkpoints

See also:

[12] Report of the International Red Cross:
Dignity Denied

[13] Formally EU is condemning Israeli war-crimes like arbitrary military attacks on Gaza and Gaza blockades, but without any political pressure on Israel, like suspending or dismantling the Association-accord with Israel [a profitable trade agreement]
One time only the EU has considered this [during the Israeli military attack on Jenin dd 2002], but scandalously enough, it had been sabotaged by notorious pro Israelcountries like Great-Britain, Germany and the Netherlands


UN Security Council Resolution 242, dd 1967, calling on Israel to withdraw its troops from the territories it had conquered in the june war, among else the Palestinian territories
Also the Western countries deny the ICJ verdict dd july 2005 [as an advice to the General UN Assembly] to dismantle the Israeli Wall
According to article 49, 4th Geneva Convention, all Israeli settements in occupied Palestinian territories, are illegal
Also this illegality has been confirmed by two Security Council Resolutions dd 1979, which demanded as well the dismantling of already existing settlements, as the stop on building new ones
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