Gisha to Defense Minister: Restore Humanitarian Services to Gaza and Avoid Further Harm to Civilians

Today, July 3, 2006, Gisha: Center for the Legal Protection of Freedom of Movement wrote to the Defense Minister and the Coordinator of Activities in the Territories demanding the restoration of humanitarian services to Gaza and to refrain from inflicting further harm to the civilian infrastructure there. The letter outlined the activities that have harmed and are harming seriously the fabric of civilian life in the Gaza Strip, including:

Disruption of electricity and water supply;
• Damage to the sewage system, threatening the health of Gaza residents;
• Closing Rafah Crossing and preventing thousands of Gaza residents from returning home;
• Restrictions on movement within Gaza, especially access to Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza;
• Preventing passage of goods through Karni Crossing, causing shortages of food, medicine and equipment.
• These activities constitute collective punishment in violation of the international law, which binds all countries.
Gisha demands that the Defense Minister:

• Refrain from further harm to the civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip and the provision of humanitarian services;
• Open Kerem Shalom Crossing to European Union personnel and provide the security assurances necessary to permit Rafah Crossing to reopen;
• Increase the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip, in order to mitigate the shortage caused by destruction of Gaza’s transformers;
• Increase the supply of fuel to the Gaza Strip, in order to provide alternatives to electricity;
• Permit the entrance of humanitarian goods and the equipment necessary to repair Gaza’s electricity, roads and water system;
• Assist and permit assistance to the civilian population in Gaza whose fabric of life has been severely damaged by the Israeli military.
• According to Professor Kenneth Mann, Chair of Gisha’s Advisory Board: "Harming Palestinian civilians violates international law. It is contrary to Israel’s interests in preserving the resources critical for normal life: water, electricity, food, fuel and health services."