Against the backdrop of continued and increased Israeli military strikes on the besieged Gaza Strip, the Arab League expressed on Sunday its deep concern over the escalation and the threats made by Israeli officials of a possible new war against the Strip.
"The world should not be turning a blind eye to these threats that come at the second anniversary of the Cast Lead (war) that devastated the Gaza Strip," said Hesham Youssef, Chief of the Cabinet of the Arab League Secretary General. He added that "Gaza is still suffering the devastating impact of (Cast Lead) whereby Israeli forces committed war crimes against innocent civilians in the Strip."
Youssef also warned of the continued legal impunity granted implicitly to those responsible for the crimes committed against civilians during the war that started on 27 December 2008 and ended three weeks later - leaving enormous destruction in the Gaza Strip which has been subjected to escalated Israeli siege for a decade.
"Should those responsible for such crimes escape the call of justice, the whole concept of international justice and the regime of international criminal litigation would be subject to serious questions," Youssef said. Moreover, he added such deplorable impunity would "allow Israel to act as a state above international law and would encourage it, consequently, to commit further intransigence."
Meanwhile, Youssef called for an end to the "collective punishment" that Israel imposes on the 1.5 million inhabitants of Gaza. "The illegal Israeli siege on Gaza has to be ended and not just eased," he insisted.
Meanwhile, Adam Taylor-Awny, the Oxfam Middle East Policy Advisor, stated that "Lifting the ongoing blockade of Gaza remains both a legal and economic imperative."
Speaking to Ahram Online, Taylor-Awny complained that "aid agencies continue to have great difficulty gaining access for their local staff and humanitarian supplies, including water equipment."
A recent international report issued by several international humanitarian organizations, "Dashed Hopes", warned of the decline in access of Gaza inhabitants to clean potable water, the rampaging poor nutrition, poverty and unemployment.
It is the responsibility of the UN Security Council, in accordance with Resolution 1860 – on the Israeli 2008-09 war on Gaza – to see to the lift of the siege, Awny-Taylor argued. The resolution emphasized the need "to ensure sustained and regular flow of goods and people through the Gaza crossings."