FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(London, June 15, 2010) The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) issued a statement yesterday stating unequivocally that Israel's closure of the Gaza Strip constitutes collective punishment, an act prohibited under the Geneva Conventions. http://www.freegaza.org/en/home/56-news/1227-israels-gaza-blockade-breaks-law-says-icrc-
For the first time, the ICRC explicitly states that Israel's blockade constitutes a violation of international humanitarian law, confirming what the Free Gaza Movement has been saying all along – the closure is illegal and states have neglected their obligation to uphold the Fourth Geneva Convention and compel Israel to end the deliberate strangulation of 1.5 million Palestinians locked in an open-air prison.
Therefore, our voyages to defy Israel's blockade are legal and necessary, as civil society is compelled to step up to defend human rights when governments refuse to do so, and we are already organizing another voyage called Freedom Flotilla Two.
In the early morning darkness of 31 May, Israel launched a lethal assault on the Freedom Flotilla, assassinating nine men and wounding over 50 human rights activists on all six boats in the flotilla. The world’s attention is now focused on Israel’s continued flagrant violations of international and maritime law, as they hijacked our ships in international waters, forced us into an Israeli port, illegally detained, coerced, and beat the passengers and illegally confiscated or destroyed electronic equipment, audio, photo and video evidence, personal possessions as well as much of the cargo.
The Free Gaza Movement is currently working with attorneys in a number of countries, including Turkey, the UK, the Netherlands, Israel and the United States to pursue legal action, since people were killed or badly injured and property was destroyed during Israel’s attack on us in international waters.
We continue to call for an independent, international investigation into the attack. Israel's internal government investigation committee is an unacceptable alternative. Israel must not be allowed to continue acting above the law and cannot be trusted to investigate its own actions. Barring political will by our governments to hold Israel accountable, global civil society will continue to act.
We will pursue legal action around the world, intensify boycott, divestment and sanctions efforts, and continue to send ships to Gaza until the illegal blockade is ended.
Contact: Huwaida Arraf, +972-598-336-215
Greta Berlin, +33 607 374 512
Audrey Bomse, +33 638 972 443