Collective punishment in Gaza must end: Rights expertListen /
A UN human rights expert has called on Israel to end its blockade over the Gaza Strip, six years after it was tightened following the Hamas takeover in June 2007.
Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, said the human suffering of the land, sea and air blockade imposed on the 1.75 million Palestinians living in one of the most densely populated and impoverished areas of the world has been devastating.
He said "Six years of Israel's calculated strangulation of the Gaza Strip has stunted the economy and has kept most Gazans in a state of perpetual poverty and aid dependency".
The UN expert added that "Whether it is fishermen unable to go beyond six nautical miles from the shore, farmers unable to access their land near the Israeli fence, businessmen suffering from severe restrictions on the export of goods, students denied access to education in the West Bank, or patients in need of urgent medical attention refused access to Palestinian hospitals in the West Bank, the destructive designs of blockade have been felt by every single household in Gaza", noting that "It is especially felt by Palestinian families separated by the blockade".
The Special Rapporteur said "The people of Gaza have endured the unendurable and suffered what is insufferable for six years".
And he stressed that "Israel's collective punishment of the civilian population in Gaza must end today".
Special Rapporteur Richard Falk said"Israel has the responsibility as the Occupying Power to protect the civilian population. But instead of allowing a healthy people and economy to flourish, Israeli authorities have sealed off the Gaza Strip".
Donn Bobb, United Nations.