Amid promise to Turkey, Israel tightens Gaza access restrictions
On Friday, in a phone call in which Netanyahu apologized to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyep Erdogan for mistakes made during the May 2010 interception of a flotilla bound for Gaza in which nine Turkish citizens were killed, Netanyahu noted that Israel had substantially lifted restrictions on goods entering Gaza. News reports quoted Erdogan as saying that Netanyahu also promised to improve humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip.
In Gisha’s appeal today to the defense minister, the human rights organization condemned the rocket attacks as a blatant violation of the international law prohibition against deliberate or indiscriminate fire toward civilians and noted that Israel, too, is obliged to avoid harming civilians:
“Because of the severity of the prohibition against deliberately harming civilians, the steps taken by Israel, also aimed against civilians, are entirely unacceptable”, Gisha Director Sari Bashi wrote. “In the last month, there appears to be a new policy toward the Gaza Strip, in which Israel is openly restricting civilian movement to and from Gaza, not because of a concrete security necessity, but rather as a punitive step taken against the civilian population – in direct response to fire by combatants”.
The letter noted that this is the second time in less than a month that Israel has openly blocked civilian travel and goods transfer, in direct response to rocket fire by militants, and called on the defense minister to refrain from engaging in collective punishment.