Israel condemns UN call for end to Gaza blockade

Israeli ambassador to UN in Geneva calls statements "shocking, biased and misinformed."

Israel on Tuesday harshly condemned a call by the United Nation's top human rights official to immediately end its blockade of the Gaza Strip, which she said breached international and humanitarian law. "These statements she made were shocking, biased and misinformed," said Israel's Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Aharon Leshno-Yaar, in a press statement he released to respond to the one issued by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. In that statement, issued from her Geneva-based office, Pillay urged Israel to allow the flow of aid - including food, medicines and fuel - to resume, and to restore electricity and water service in the Hamas-controlled territory. "Some 1.5 million Palestinian men, women and children have been forcibly deprived of their most basic human rights for months," Pillay said. She also called for Israel to end air strikes and incursions into Gaza, and for Palestinians to stop firing rockets. She issued the statement close to two weeks after the breakdown of the cease-fire. Israel has closed the borders to Gaza for most of that time in response to the renewed rocket attacks against its civilians. Leshno-Yaar said that Pillay's should have begun her statement with a condemnation of Hamas' continued violence against Israel. "Overall responsibility for the situation in the Gaza Strip lies with Hamas, which invests all of its resources in arms and terrorism instead of providing for the civilians that it brutally controls," Leshno-Yaar said, adding that Palestinian groups had fired more 170 rockets and mortars at Israel during the past 10 days. Leshno-Yaar also rejected Pillay's claim that Israel has cut off essential supplies to Gaza. "Electricity and water continue to flow from Israel to Gaza, and 33 trucks laden with supplies arrived in Gaza yesterday, with more waiting to enter as soon as Hamas ends its violent attacks," he said. "It is disappointing to see the high commissioner fall victim to Hamas' cynical manipulation of the media," said Leshno-Yaar. "Most disturbing is the way she casually refers to Palestinian aggression in the last sentence of her statement, almost as an afterthought. Unfortunately, Israel does not have the option of being so casual in its response to rocket attacks on its civilians, attacks which violate the most fundamental right of all, the right to life," said Leshno-Yaar.