AI Lashes out at Israel, Egypt over Gaza Siege

Amnesty International (AI) says both Israel and Egypt are to blame for "collectively punishing" the population of the Gaza Strip with the long-imposed siege of the coastal sliver.

"The blockade constitutes collective punishment under international law and must be lifted immediately," said Malcolm Smart, the group’s Middle East and North Africa director, in a statement on Monday.

The British-based rights group said that the firing of rockets by Palestinian groups did not justify such sanctions.

"The blockade does not target armed groups but rather punishes Gaza’s entire population by restricting the entry of food, medical supplies, educational equipment and building materials," AFP quoted Smart as saying.

AI stressed that Egypt is partly to blame because it has closed its Rafah crossing with Gaza.

It also criticized Cairo for starting work on an underground steel wall on its border with the Gaza Strip, which is aimed to prevent the beleaguered Gazans from delivering their basic necessities, including food and medicine, through what are described as survival tunnels.

"However, as the occupying power, it is Israel that bears the foremost responsibility for ensuring the welfare of the inhabitants of Gaza," the Amnesty said.

Israel tightened the Gaza blockade after Hamas won parliamentary elections in June 2007.

(Press TV)

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