The human rights chief of the United Nations (UN) Volker Turk warned that a total blockade on the Gaza Strip by the Israeli government would violate international law and amount to a war crime.
In a statement on Tuesday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said a total blockade would “seriously” risk an already dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, reports Reuters.
The high commissioner emphasized the limited operation capacity of medical facilities that is stretching even thinner due to the growing number of injured Palestinians.
Turk said, “Israel’s imposition of sieges that endanger the lives of civilians by depriving them of goods essential for their survival is prohibited under international law.”
“This risks seriously compounding the already dire human rights and humanitarian situation in Gaza, including the capacity of medical facilities to operate, especially in light of increasing numbers of injured,” he said. Turk noted that a siege on the Gaza Strip might amount to “collective punishment.”
Also, on Tuesday, UN Human Rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani stated that these acts by the Israeli government could amount to war crimes. The UN rights chief’s findings are based upon reviewing the available material from UN monitors on the ground, Shamdasani added.
James Elder, the UN Children’s Agency spokesman, also voiced concern over the Israeli siege on Gaza.
“UNICEF is extremely alarmed about measures to cut electricity, to cut food, to cut water, to cut fuel from entering Gaza. This will add another layer of suffering to the existing catastrophe faced by families in Gaza,” he added.
The Israeli military launched deadly strikes on the Gaza Strip on Saturday after Hamas launched a surprise attack against Israel. Hamas said Operation Al-Aqsa Storm was launched in response to Israeli violations at al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East al-Quds (Jerusalem) and the growing violence from Israeli settlers.
According to the Gaza Health Ministry, more than 900 Palestinians have been killed, and over 4,500 have been wounded since the Israeli bombardment began.