UN's Pillay: Israel's blockade on Gaza illegal, must be lifted

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Pillay said Israel's blockade of Gaza is illegal and should be lifted.

UN's Pillay: Israel's blockade on Gaza illegal, must be lifted


World Bulletin / News Desk

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said on Saturday Israel's blockade of Gaza is illegal and should be lifted, and reiterated calls for an investigation into Israel's raid on aid supply ships this week, Reuters reported.

"International humanitarian law prohibits starvation of civilians as a method of warfare and ... it is also prohibited to impose collective punishment on civilians," Pillay said.

"I have consistently reported to member states that the blockade is illegal and must be lifted."

She said that even if the blockade is proven legal under international law, Israel's military operation against the flotilla on Monday must be analysed from the perspective of Israel's obligation to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Earlier, The spokesperson of Hİgh Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/ Vice President of the Commission Catherine Ashton said in a statement that "We strongly urge that all involved act with a sense of restraint and responsibility and work for a constructive solution. The EU remains gravely concerned by the humanitarian situation in Gaza. The continued policy of closure is unacceptable and politically counterproductive."

"We would like to reiterate the EU's call for an immediate, sustained and unconditional opening crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza," she said in the statement.

Israeli forces again seized a ship bound for Gaza on Saturday, boarding the an Irish-owned Rachel Corrie five days after Israeli commandos shot dead nine Turkish activists in a raid on a Turkish aid ship headed for Gaza.

Asked if the UN Security Council should refer the situation in Gaza to the International Criminal Court (ICC), Pillay said the Council had in the past imposed sanctions and referred the situation in Sudan's Darfur region to the ICC.

Meanwhile, in the clearest sign yet that this week's bloodshed might lead to a modification of the blockade, the United States said the embargo was "unsustainable and must be changed".

"We are working urgently with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and other international partners to develop new procedures for delivering more goods and assistance to Gaza," a spokesman for the White House National Security Council said.

"The current arrangements are unsustainable and must be changed. For now, we call on all parties to join us in encouraging responsible decisions by all sides to avoid any unnecessary confrontations," he added in a statement.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 05 Haziran 2010, 16:53