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Mitchell Bard on "Goods to Gaza"
Is Israel required by International Law to provide goods to Gaza

MYTH:

"Israel is required by international law to provide goods and services to Gaza- its blockade is 'collective punishment'."

FACT:
 
The statutes of international law only require Israel to permit passage of food, clothing and medicines intended for children under fifteen, expectant mothers and maternity cases. Israel, however, is not bound by the law to provide these supplies- it is only obligated not to interfere with provisions sent by others.470 Israel has not only complied with the law but has gone beyond precedent by providing humanitarian supplies itself. On the other hand, if Israel has reason to believe that Hamas will intercept these materials and the enemy will benefit, even these basic provisions may be prohibited.
 
Furthermore, the law does not prohibit Israel from cutting off fuel supplies and electricity to Gaza, withholding commercial items or sealing its border.  Additionally, Israel has no obligation to even provide the minimum supplies which would prevent a "humanitarian crisis." In practice, though, Israel has gone above and beyond what is required- it provides for nearly 70% of Gaza's energy supplies, allows sick and wounded Palestinians to be treated in Israeli hospitals and has even helped to upgrade Gaza's sewage pumping and water purification stations. 471 Israel maintains this humanitarian corridor even though terror attacks continue to emanate from inside the strip.
 
Some critics have labeled Israel's actions as "collective punishment," which is a reference to Article 50 of the Hague Convention on the Laws and Customs of War; however, this article pertains to the "imposition of criminal-type penalties to individuals or groups on the basis of another's guilt."472 Israel has done no such thing. Israel has no obligation to maintain open borders with a hostile territory. The suspension of trade relations and naval embargoes are frequent tools of international diplomacy and have never been regarded as "collective punishment."473

 
470  Section II, "San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Concflicts at Sea", International Humanitarian Law, (June 12, 1994).
471 "Beyond the Headlines: The Israeli Humanitarian Lifeline to Gaza", Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, (May 25, 2010).
472 Article 50 - Section III, "Military Authority over the Territory of the Hostile State", The Hague Convention (IV), (October 18, 1907).
473 Abraham Bell, "International Law and Gaza: The Assault on Israel's Right to Self-Defense," (January 28, 2008) and "Is Israel Bound by International Law to Supply Utilities, Goods, and Services to Gaza?", Jerusalem: Institute of Contemporary Affairs, (February 28, 2008).