The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has described Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip as a violation of the Geneva Conventions and called on the Israeli government to lift it. In a statement released on Monday, the organisation called the blockade "collective punishment", a crime under international law. It described Gaza as a territory plagued by frequent power cuts, a ruined economy, and a collapsed health care system.
"The closure imposed on the Gaza Strip is about to enter its fourth year, choking off any real possibility of economic development," the ICRC said. "Gazans continue to suffer from unemployment, poverty and warfare, while the quality of Gaza's health care system has reached an all-time low."
Israeli officials insist that they provide enough "humanitarian aid" to cover Gaza's basic needs. But the ICRC — a neutral organisation — said the meagre list of goods allowed into Gaza doesn't meet the needs of the territory's 1.5 million inhabitants.
The shortages are particularly dire in Gaza's health care system, where the ICRC said more than 100 essential medicines — including chemotherapy and hemophilia drugs — are unavailable. Many basic medical supplies, like colonoscopy bags, are also barred from Gaza and routine blackouts cause damage to medical equipment.
"The state of the health-care system in Gaza has never been worse," Eileen Daly, the ICRC's health co-ordinator in Gaza, said. "Thousands of patients could go without treatment, and the long-term outlook will be increasingly worrisome."
The ICRC has some criticism of Hamas, but the bulk of the its criticism is against the blockade.
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