U.N. Report Finds Israeli Blockade Illegal

by Julian Ku

Ah, the U.N., such a complicated organization that almost never speaks with one voice. Hence, while the panel appointed by the Secretary-General found the Israeli blockade of Gaza legal, the panel appointed by the Human Rights Council has found the opposite.

GENEVA (Reuters) – Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip violates international law, a panel of human rights experts reporting to a U.N. body said on Tuesday, disputing a conclusion reached by a separate U.N. probe into Israel’s raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship.

I haven’t seen (or been able to find) the actual text of the HRC report. But the report doesn’t seem to indicate they took on the basic question of whether Israel can blockade Gaza, but more as to whether the blockade is a disproportionate use of force.

A panel of five independent U.N. rights experts reporting to the U.N. Human Rights Council rejected that conclusion, saying the blockade had subjected Gazans to collective punishment in “flagrant contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law”.

The four-year blockade deprived 1.6 million Palestinians living in the enclave of fundamental rights, they said.

“In pronouncing itself on the legality of the naval blockade, the Palmer Report does not recognise the naval blockade as an integral part of Israel’s closure policy towards Gaza which has a disproportionate impact

I don’t really find this analysis terribly persuasive, and I have often been disappointed by the legal sophistication or fact-finding ability in special rapporteur reports. This is ultimately a factual claim about the effect of the blockade on Gaza that may not even be true.  It would have been better if they adopted Kevin’s much more persuasive critique..


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