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Published on Apr 26, 2016
International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD)
31st Session of the UN Human Rights Council
General Debate under Agenda Item 7: Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories
21 March 2016
Speaker Name: Ms. Janie Abiharb
Is Inhumanity Legal? Analyzing the legality of the Israeli blockade against Gaza under International Customary Law
Full text of the statement:
Gaza’s humanitarian crisis is reaching heights beyond repair, as Israel continues its air, land, and sea blockade, in retaliation to its conflict with Hamas. Since the land crossings were deployed in 2007, and the naval blockade was instigated in 2009, Gaza has been barred from receiving goods that are necessary for the sustenance of human life. The scope of effect the blockade has is not isolated to the civilians of Gaza alone. Vessels attempting to deliver aid to Gaza have been caught in the crossfire of this blockade, for example, the tragedy involving the Mavi Marmara vessel which cost the lives of nine Turkish nationals, and injured many others. In light of the increasing deterioration of Gaza, it is more imperative than ever to condemn the illegality of Israel’s blockade. As stipulated by the San Remo Manual, a codified guide to International Customary Law, the blockade is not classifiably an international armed conflict, as Hamas is not officially recognized as a government. Secondly, regardless of Israel’s intentions, it has not executed the blockade in accordance with the principles of humanity, another requirement stipulated by the manual. It is incontrovertible that Israel’s blockade against Gaza is unlawful. The United Nations is plagued with the responsibilities to uphold the goals set out by its charter, that being, to “establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained”. Failing to ensure Israel is adhering to International Law points to a fundamental breach of the Rule of Law by its subjective application. Thus, we call on the Human Rights Council to take the necessary measures towards denouncing and ending this illegal blockade. Without defending the defenseless, the international community’s respect for international law is greatly compromised. Palestinians already question its double standards that render it impractical and useless to many, with severe ramifications for certain oppressed people that continue to suffer as a result, as has been in this brutal case of the blockade against Gaza.