Gaza blockade a collective punishment: ICRC

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Gaza blockade a collective punishment: ICRC
Geneva, Jun 14: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that the blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza strip violates the Geneva Conventions. ICRC has called on the Israeli government to lift it on Monday, Jun 14.

ICRC, the neutral humanitarian agency, called the blockade 'collective punishment', a crime under the international law. The statement also described Gaza as a territory plagued by frequent power cuts, a ruined economy and deteriorated health care facilities.

It urged Hamas Islamist militants holding Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, captured before four years in a cross-border raid, to allow his family to have regular contact with him, in line with the international law.

"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," said ICRC.

"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 ICRC said in a five-page statement.

"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," said Beatrice Megevand-Roggo, head of ICRC operations for the Middle East.

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