[News] Gaza a prison, says UN envoy

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Sep 27 08:57:17 EDT 2006

Gaza a prison, says UN envoy
Tuesday 26 September 2006 2:26 PM GMT

Israel has turned the Gaza Strip into a prison for Palestinians where 
life is intolerable, a human rights envoy has told the United Nations 
Human Rights Council.

John Dugard, special UN rapporteur on human rights in the occupied 
Palestinian territory, said on Tuesday that the US, Europe and Canada 
had failed the Palestinian people by withdrawing funds since Hamas's 
refusal to accept Israel's right to exist.

He also described the Palestinians' lives as appalling and tragic.

He said: "In other countries this process might be described as 
ethnic cleansing but political correctness forbids such language 
where Israel is concerned.

"If the international community cannot take some action, [it] must 
not be surprised if the people of the planet disbelieve that they are 
seriously committed to the promotion of human rights."

Israel hit back saying there was an "alarming disconnect" between the 
rapporteur's report to the UN's human rights watchdog and the 
experience of Israelis who continued to face the "daily threat of 
Palestinian terrorism".

But Dugard, who has been a special UN investigator since 2001, said: 
"Israel violates international law as expounded by the Security 
Council and the International Court of Justice and goes unpunished.

"But the Palestinian people are punished for having democratically 
elected a regime [Hamas] unacceptable to Israel, the US and the EU."

No comment

In the past, similar criticism has been rejected by Israel and the 
US, who say that the current crisis has been provoked by attacks by 

Israel says its security restrictions are designed to stop bombers 
entering Israel.

It also maintains tight restrictions on the movement of goods and 
people in and out of Gaza, a coastal strip that it pulled out of last 
year after 38 years of occupation.

Dugard said that three-quarters of Gaza's 1.4 million people were 
dependent on food aid.

Bombing raids by Israel since the June 25 capture of an army corporal 
by Palestinian militants had destroyed many houses and the 
territory's only power plant.

The West Bank also faced a humanitarian crisis, due to the barrier, 
which Dugard said was a move by Israel to annex more land.

'War crime'

An Israeli human rights group has condemned Israel's bombing of a 
Gaza power plant as a war crime.

B'Tselem, an independent group that monitors Israel's occupation of 
the West Bank and its policies in Gaza, said Israel could have used 
"less harmful alternatives".

Israeli war planes largely destroyed the power plant outside Gaza 
City on June 28.

Israel said at the time that it bombed the plant to cut power 
supplies and therefore make it more difficult for Palestinian 
fighters to operate following their kidnap of an Israeli soldier on June 25.

The bombing cut off electricity to many of Gaza's 1.4 million 
residents, affecting hospitals and food supplies, and had a knock-on 
impact on water and sewage systems.

"The bombing of the power plant was illegal and defined as a war 
crime in international humanitarian law as the attack was aimed at a 
purely civilian object," the rights group said in a report entitled 
"Act of Vengeance".

"Even if one adopts the doubtful claim that the attack provided some 
definite military advantage, it was disproportionate and Israel had 
other, less harmful alternatives."

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