UN human rights expert Michael Lynk has called on Israel to immediately end its illegal blockade of Gaza, adding that it amounts to “collective punishment” against the Palestinian people.
Lynk, the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories, says the 13-year blockade is a “serious violation against Palestinians”, adding that “the extent of the devastating impact of Israel’s collective punishment policy can be most strikingly seen in its ongoing 13-year-old closure of Gaza, which now suffers from a completely collapsed economy, devastated infrastructure, and a barely functioning social service system.”
No doubt Israel’s practices entail serious violations against Palestinians, including the right to life, freedom of movement, health, adequate shelter, and an adequate standard of living. But UN’s condemnation is not enough. The world body is also expected to walk the talk and avoid lip service amid the coronavirus pandemic.
This is because Israel has imposed a debilitating blockade on Gaza since 2007, leaving about 80 percent of the Palestinians in the Strip reliant on international aid. The sea, once a vital source of income for Gaza residents, is subject to ever-changing restrictions on sailing and fishing rights. And for this dire situation to end, the Zionist regime needs to be sanctioned and held to account under the UN Charter.
Gaza’s healthcare system has also long been on the verge of collapse, suffering from shortages of drugs and materiel under the Israel blockade, and strained medical facilities following several Israeli military campaigns. This is getting worse because the pandemic has also joined Tel Aviv in taking Palestinian lives.
The apartheid plan to control the Palestinian population and their movement violates the foundational rule of virtually every modern legal system. Whatever Israel does there has to immediately stop as they amount to collective punishment of the Palestinian people, with millions of innocent harmed daily and nothing achieved but deeper tensions and an atmosphere conducive to further Palestinian suffering.
As previously, the United States also remains Israel’s closest ally both for strategic reasons as a partner in the Middle East and due to domestic support for Israel. This support comes in part from America’s Zionist lobby. It also comes from groups such as Christians United for Israel, which is calling to defund the United Nations.
Another problem is that the last few years have seen a catastrophic decline in the power of Palestinian “allies” to affect events on the ground. The Sunni Arabs led by Saudi Arabia, the most self-interested and undependable “supporter” of the Palestinian cause, are so weak and divided that they look to Israel as a defender of the Sunni world!
The incapacity of the United Nations to do anything concrete has never been more obvious these days. The message for the US and Arab allies is also clear. They have all broken from the tradition of sympathy for the Palestinians. Their identification with Israel and normalisation of ties have only perpetuated Palestinian weakness and division in the international arena. They are also complicit in the criminal blockade of Gaza.
It is past time for these regimes to undertake human rights due diligence to identify and mitigate contributions to human rights violations of not only their own activities but also Israel’s activities to which they are directly linked by their diplomatic and business relationships. They are expected to take effective steps to avoid or mitigate human rights harms and to consider ending their support for Zionist regime.
By supporting Tel Aviv at the UN and by vetoing anti-Israel Security Council resolutions, they are inextricably tied to the collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza, as well as other human rights abuses and state-sponsored crimes in occupied Palestine.