On 18th November, 2008, Navi Pillay, the UN Human Rights Commissioner called for an immediate end to the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. Pointing out that the Israeli action was a flagrant violation of International Law and denied the residents of Gaza their most basic human rights, Ms. Pillay said:
“By function of this blockade, 1.5 million Palestinian men, women and children have been forcibly deprived of their most basic human rights for months”….“This is in direct contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law. It must end now”
She welcomed the Israeli decision to allow a limited number of trucks in the Gaza strip on 17th November, 2008 but stated that a full-fledged lifting of blockade was absolutely necessary to address the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation there. She pointed out that more than half of the civilian population in Gaza consists of children who are in dire need of humanitarian protection.
In a parallel development, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said that UNRWA has been unable to get supplies and was turning away mothers from food centres without powdered milk for their babies.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon telephoned the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and expressed over the deteriorating situation in the Gaza strip and called upon the Israeli Prime Minister to facilitate free movement of supplies within and UN personnel into Gaza. The Israeli Prime Minister remained non-committal regarding any specific action.
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