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Rights group calls for ICC action over Gaza siege

Dec. 5, 2012 9:06 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 7, 2012 10:41 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Human rights group Al Dameer on Wednesday called on the Palestinian Authority to seek an investigation into Israel's siege of Gaza at the International Criminal Court.

Al Dameer specifically urged an investigation into Eitan Dangot, Israel's coordinator in the Palestinian territory, whom it held responsible for imposing the siege on Gaza.

Dangot was appointed Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories in 2009.

Israel's siege, imposed since 2006, is a form of systematic collective punishment on a civilian population, illegal under international law, Al Dameer said in a statement.

Hundreds of residents of Gaza have died because Israel delayed or refused them permits to access specialist Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem and medical treatment abroad.

The prolonged siege has worsened the construction sector and increased unemployment, as well as creating psychological problems, Al Dameer said.

"Also the systematic attacks and offensive on Gaza had their destructive impacts on all levels," the group added.

After winning a UN status upgrade in November, Palestine can now access the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which prosecutes people for genocide, war crimes and other major human rights violations.

The Palestinians have said they will not rush to sign up to the International Criminal Court, but have warned that seeking action against Israel in the court would remain an option if Israel continued to build illegal settlements.

Prior to the UN vote, some Western nations unsuccessfully pushed for a Palestinian pledge not to pursue Israel in the ICC.

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