“I ordered a total siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no gas, everything is closed. We are fighting against human animals and we act accordingly.” With these harsh words, Yoav Gallant, Israeli Defense Minister, announced this Monday the total blockade of Gaza. The Strip will be without electricity, food and fuel supplies, in the middle of a war between Israel and the Islamist movement Hamas.
The organization Human Rights Watch denounced this Monday that Israel and Hamas “fail to comply with their legal obligations,” but was more forceful when describing Israel’s policies against the population of Gaza as “illegal collective punishment, which is a war crime”.
The statements of the Israeli Defense Minister represent a violation of articles 55 and 56 of the Geneva Convention relative to the protection of civilian persons in time of war. Article 55 of said agreement is clear regarding the supply of the civilian population: “To the full extent of its resources, The occupying power has the duty to supply the population with food and medical products.; “must, especially, import food, medicines and any other necessary items when the resources of the occupied territory are insufficient.”
Article 56, relating to hygiene and public health, also states the following: “The occupying power has the duty to ensure and maintainwith the collaboration of national and local authorities, medical and hospital establishments and services“.
None of this is happening in Gaza, a territory that since 2007 has continuously suffered a blockade by air, land and sea by Israel. That year Hamas took control of Gaza after winning the 2006 parliamentary elections. With 2.3 million inhabitants, Gaza has become a veritable open-air prison. The material conditions are extreme; As an example, the Strip has only one power plant that needs fuel to operate and supply hospitals, homes and shelters.
Furthermore, Gallant’s announcement comes after Israel has bombed more than 500 Palestinian militia targets in Gaza in recent hours. Many of these bombings are indiscriminate. On the other hand, fighting continues to occur in at least seven points in the cities of southern Israel, where Hamas militants still remain.
Israel declared itself in a state of war on Saturday, after Hamas launched an unprecedented multiple attack with the launch of thousands of rockets and ground incursions by militiamen on Israeli soil, where Hamas militiamen also kidnapped dozens of Israelis.
In two days of war, Death toll in Israel exceeds 700 and more than 2,200 injured, while The Gaza Strip registers at least 493 deaths, including 91 childrenand 2,751 injured, including 244 minors.