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EU development commissioner calls blockade collective punishment

Nov. 29, 2008 8:27 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 29, 2008 8:27 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Louis Michel expressed his "increasing concern for the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza," in a Saturday press release.

"I am extremely concerned by the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza caused by the continued closure of the Gaza crossings," Michel stated.

His statement stressed the point that since 4 November only the Karem Shalom crossing has been open, and even then only for a total of four days. Michel noted that only a limited amount of food and supplies were allowed into Gaza on 17, 24, 26 and 27 November.

Though he stressed his earlier condemnation of Palestinian projectile attacks, he said called the continued closure of Gaza crossings "a form of collective punishment against Palestinian civilians, which is a violation of International Humanitarian Law."

The European Commission, said Michel, stresses the need ror an end to all impediments to the freedom of movement of civilians and humanitarian workers as well as actions that can lead to increased numbers of internally displaced people.

"In both Gaza and the West Bank, my main concern is that humanitarian aid gets to the civilian populations in need of it most. That's why the neutrality, impartiality and independence of humanitarian organizations must be respected allowing their representatives immediate, free and secure access to vulnerable Palestinian populations in both Gaza and the West Bank."

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