Geneva – Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties (GCRL) denounces the Israeli occupation forces’ tightening of restrictions on access to Gaza, by closing the border crossings, preventing the entry of construction materials and fuel, and closing the permitted fishing area. GCRL also considers this decision constitutes collective punishment that amounts to war crimes under international law.
Geneva Council warns of the impact of the Israeli decisions, which come amid airstrikes hitting residential area, on the lives of two million Palestinians, who suffer from difficult humanitarian and living conditions after 14 years of Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip.
GCRL states that four decisions were taken by the Israeli forces against Gaza within only six days, under the pretext of responding to the launch of incendiary balloons towards Israeli settlements adjacent to the Gaza Strip. The decisions were as follows:
– On 10/8/2020, the Israeli occupation authorities announced the closure of “Kerem Shalom Crossing (starting from Tuesday, 11 August 2020) except for the transportation of goods for vital humanitarian cases and fuel.
– On 12/8/2020, the occupation authorities decided to reduce the permitted fishing zone from 15 to 8 nautical miles.
– They banned the entry of fuel into the Gaza Strip.
– On August 16, 2020, Israeli authorities announced complete closure of the Gaza sea, after reducing the fishing area, and the Israeli navy actually implemented its decision by targeting the fishermen’s boats and chasing them near the Gaza Strip shore.
According to the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, these decisions come as a response to the launch of incendiary balloons towards Israeli settlements adjacent to the Gaza Strip.
The repercussions of the new Israeli decisions on the lives of the 2 million Gaza residents are:
– More than 4 thousand fishermen will become jobless amid a dangerous unemployment rate at 50%.
– The exacerbation of the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip, where it initially reduced the work of the power plant two days after the suspension of fuel entry, then it completely stopped working on Tuesday 18/8/2020, which means that people in Gaza receive around only 4 hours of electricity daily.
– The tremendous impact of the power and fuel crises on the services provided to the public, especially hospitals, water, and sanitation facilities.
– Impacting industrial and commercial facilities that depend on electricity, and the increase in costs if it resorted to alternative sources.
Amid this collective punishment measures, Israel carried out more than 30 airstrikes within a week, involving several targets including a school run by the UN refugee agency (UNRWA) where the missile directly hit the teachers ‘room and exploded in the school, causing damage to the building, and suspension of the education process. The missile fell on Thursday early morning (8/13/2020) where five civilians were wounded including a woman and two children.
Geneva Council notes that the escalating Israeli violations come amid the ongoing suffering of Gaza Strip after years of siege, as 53% of the population in Gaza is living under the poverty line, and more than 62.2% of the residents are classified as food insecure according to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties ( GCRL) calls on the international community to take immediate action to force Israeli authorities to end their escalating restrictive measures and lift the siege on the Gaza Strip, and to enable the population to live in dignity and safety.