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Israel's Gaza blockade amounting to collective punishment: Rights Activists

Thursday October 18, 2012 07:35:32 PM, IINA

Tel Aviv: Even as an Israeli court forced the release of government research detailing the number of calories Palestinians in Gaza need to consume to avoid malnutrition, Human rights groups say the research shows Israel's blockade amounted to collective punishment.  


The study was commissioned after Israel tightened its blockade of the territory after Hamas came to power in June 2007.

The Israeli government however says the study was only a draft and was never used to determine policy.


The Israeli human rights group Gisha, which campaigns against Israel's Gaza blockade, fought a long legal battle to get the Israeli ministry of defense to release this document.


Dated from 2008 and entitled, Food consumption in the Gaza Strip –The Red Lines, it is a detailed study of how many calories Palestinians needed to eat to avoid malnutrition.


“How can Israel claim that it is not responsible for civilian life in Gaza - when it controls even the type and quantity of food that Palestinian residents of Gaza are permitted to consume?” the report asks.

It breaks foods down into various categories including meat, dairy, vegetables and fruit.


Gisha says it explains the unusual restrictions which allowed some products such as cinnamon in, while others such as coriander were forbidden.


The "red lines" documents concluded that Israel needed to allow 106 truckloads of supplies into Gaza every day to allow for the "daily humanitarian portion", which included basic food, medicine, medical equipment, hygiene products and agricultural inputs.


But Gisha says that during that time an average of only 67 truckloads were allowed into Gaza.


This, the group says, compared to around 400 truckloads which entered Gaza each day before the blockade was tightened in June 2007.


Israel's blockade of Gaza was eased three years later to allow in more goods following international pressure. Before 2010, millions of dollars worth of food products were being smuggled into Gaza through tunnels every year.

Gisha says the research contradicts Israel's assertions that the blockade was needed for security reasons.


"How can Israel claim that it is not responsible for civilian life in Gaza - when it controls even the type and quantity of food that Palestinian residents of Gaza are permitted to consume?" asked Sari Bashi, Gisha's executive director in a statement.


"Israel's control over movement creates an obligation to allow free passage of civilians and civilian goods, subject only to security checks - an obligation that remains unfulfilled today."


Israeli government officials now acknowledge the food restrictions were partly intended to put pressure on Hamas by making the lives of people in Gaza difficult.


In 2006, the longtime Israeli government adviser Dov Weisglass was widely quoted as having said: "The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger."

The United Nations and human rights groups say Israel's blockade has amounted to collective punishment.


An Israeli government official said the "red lines" documents was only ever a draft but was aimed at ensuring there was not a major health crisis in Gaza.




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