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Arab League criticises claim that siege of Gaza is legitimate

February 20, 2014 at 3:34 pm

The Arab League has criticized the United Nations for issuing a report which claims that Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip is legitimate. Such a position, said the League’s spokesman, harms the UN’s reputation, having declared previously that the siege imposed on Gaza’s million and a half Palestinians is illegal.

The Arab League’s Assistant Secretary General for Palestinian Affairs, Mohamed Sobeih, said that the UN report on the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla is “biased” and “encourages aggression and war.” Israel, he added, “could take it as a pretext to continue its siege on the Gaza Strip.”

Sobeih said he was surprised to see the UN trying to justify the blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip, adding that this stance “contradicts international law, as no country has the right to impose a blockade on another country for political reasons”. He noted that the siege falls within the definition of collective punishment, which is prohibited under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

He stressed that the Gaza blockade and attacks on ships carrying aid materials – be them Turkish ships or otherwise – “constitute a flagrant violation of the Law of the Sea and Freedom of Navigation.” Human rights organizations around the world were called to work towards lifting the siege.

In closing, Mr Sobeih praised Turkey for expelling the Israeli ambassador from Ankara, noting that “Israel attacked Turkish ships in international waters, which is an aggression against Turkey’s sovereignty, and it is Turkey’s right to respond in the way it deems convenient.”