Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan. 21 / Trend U.Sadikhova /
Amnesty International believes the international community should exert pressure on Israel if the country refuses to lift its blockade of Gaza.
"The Israeli government names firing of rockets by Palestinian groups and holding of Gilad Shalit in captivity the main reason for the blockade, but collective punishment of innocent civilians violates international law," Francesca Burke, co-author of Amnesty International's last report, told Trend over the telephone.
The report was publicized at the first anniversary of the end of Israel's military operations "Cast Lead" in the Gaza Strip.
According to Palestinian medics, during the operation, which began in December 2008 and lasted 22 days, 1,600 Palestinians were killed, most of whom are expected to be Palestinian civilians.
The economic blockade of Gaza by Israel began in 2006 in response to Hamas' capture of Israeli army soldier Gilad Shalit.
The expert said Amnesty International is hoping that the Israeli government will listen to this call and that the international community will pressure Israel to comply with international law.
Blocking food supply, fuel, medical and educational equipment damage not only Palestinian groups that attack Israel, but also the civilian population of the Gaza strip, which consists mostly of children, Burke said.
Israel has rejected criticism, placing full responsibility on the Hamas military resistance that has hindered life in Gaza.
"The Palestinians are living under the yoke of the brutal regime of Hamas, which puts the jihad against Israel above the welfare and prosperity of the people of Gaza," Israeli Governmental Official Mark Regev was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.
According to Burke, Amnesty International strongly condemns the missile attacks south of Israel. These attacks violate international law and Israel's acts of cruelty against civilians are alarming.
Amnesty International's report also criticized Egyptian authorities, who closed the Rafah checkpoint on the border with Gaza and constructed an iron fence.
Cairo says it is fighting the supply of arms and drugs through the tunnels on the border with Gaza.
However, according to Burke, that those same tunnels are also used for bringing food into Gaza, which is limited through the checkpoint on the border with Israel.
The total number of checkpoints at the Gaza border with Egypt and Israel is six, five of which are controlled by the Israeli security forces, and one is protected by the Egyptian police.
"The message of the Egyptian government stated that the issue concerns not only the weapons smuggling, but [obstacle] the delivery of humanitarian goods," she said, adding that, the responsibility for the critical situation in Gaza falls on Israel as the occupying power.
"We criticize Egypt's current actions, but the difference is that the Egyptian border with Gaza is recognized internationally, while Israel's border crossings with the enclave are not an international boundary," Burke said.
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