JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s blockade of Gaza has resulted in a humanitarian crisis, Amnesty International said in its annual report.
"Mass unemployment, extreme poverty, food insecurity and food price rises caused by shortages left four in five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid," said the 2010 report, released Thursday. "The scope of the blockade and statements made by Israeli officials about its purpose showed that it was being imposed as a form of collective punishment of Gazans, a flagrant violation of international law."
The report also accused Israel of "war crimes and other serious breaches of international law" during the Gaza war that ended on Jan. 18, 2009. Amnesty International criticized Israel for not cooperating with the Goldstone Commission’s investigation of the conflict and said that "The Israeli authorities did not establish any independent or impartial investigation into the conduct of its forces during Operation ‘Cast Lead,’ " although there were a number of internal investigations.
In criticizing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians living in the West Bank, the report citied unlawful detentions, house demolitions and the expansion of Jewish settlements.
The United States and some European Union countries were accused of thwarting the imposition of international justice by vetoing U.N. Security Council resolutions taking Israel to task for alleged war crimes committed during the Gaza war.
Responding to the report, the U.S. State Department said it supported accountability for international violations committed during the Gaza war.
"As we have said, the responsibility to address alleged abuses during the Gaza conflict lies with the Israelis and the Palestinians," the State Department said in a statement.
Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, told the Jerusalem Post that the Amnesty report "repeated discredited allegations and distorted human rights rhetoric used to target Israel."
“Accusations of ‘war crimes,’ ’indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against civilians’ and ‘target[ing] and kill[ing] medical staff’ are made without any credible evidence and reflect the ideological bias that determines the content of Amnesty publications on Israel.”