Israel’s power cut – an act of collective punishment

2 Nov

In this interview with Al Jazeera, John Dugard, the special rapporteur to the UN Human Rights Council for the Palestinian territories, talks to Ghida Fakhry on how the Israeli’s government decision to cut electricity and fuel supplies into Gaza tantamounts to an act of “collective punishment”.

He pulls no punches, claiming that even though Israel has pulled out its military forces and remove housing settlements since August 2005, it is still an occupying force for it imposes effective control of Gaza.

The facts speak for themselve. Israel controls Gaza’s airspace; its coastal areas which affects the livelihood of 3,000 fishermen; and all the 5 border crossings into the strip.

He argued that under the Geneva Convention IV, 1949, article 33, (No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.) the act of cutting fuel and electricity supplies to Gaza is an act of collective punishment. He also lamented that there is a lack of widespread international condemnation towards Israel’s action.

In the interview, he commented that while the UN has expressed disapproval towards Israeli’s latest decision to cut off fuel supplies; its role at the Quartet (UN, U.S., Russia and EU) has been severely limited with the inclusion of US, which holds a dominant position in the group and a pro-Israeli stance.

He said, “I think it is important that both the UN and U.S. should engage more actively with Hamas if one looks at the situation. In other parts of the world, the U.S. and UN has not hesitated to speak with other more terrorist groups. I think one has to accept the political reality that Hamas is a force to be reckoned with in the region.”

In another IPS article dated October 15th, “Another Mideast Envoy Fed Up With Quartet”, the UN official said he “would urge Ban to take the U.N. out of the Quartet if it fails to address the human rights situation.”

In the same news report, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) revealed that about 46% of Palestinians are not having enough food to meet their basic needs due to Israel’s military forces continuing raids and economic blockades in Gaza and other occupied areas.

As the Israeli government steps up plans to cut power, it has also increasingly warned of an impending military invasion into Gaza. In a news report by Reuters, “Israel steps up threats to invade Gaza Strip” dated October 30, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said, “Every passing day brings us closer to a broad operation in Gaza… We are not looking forward to it (and) we would be happy if circumstances prevented it.”

Once again, the ones to suffer will be the innocent Palestinian civilians.


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