Israeli human rights groups back campaign calling to end Gaza siege

Israeli human rights groups on Thursday gave their backing to the joint Palestinian-Israeli international campaign to immediately end the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip. A joint statement released by the groups - including B'Tselem, Hamoked, Gisha Yesh-Din and Bimkom - read: "Although the toppling of the fence at the Egyptian border temporarily eased the stranglehold, the million and a half residents of Gaza still depend almost entirely on importation of goods, fuel, and electricity through crossings controlled by Israel. There is also concern that in response to the border breakthrough, Israel will step up punitive measures against the population." The statement continued that the human rights organizations, could not remain silent while the siege continues, "bringing in its wake a humanitarian crisis." The groups said that while the firing of Kassam rockets is "criminal and abhorrent" and while it was Israel's duty to defend its citizens, collectively punishing an entire civilian population is "illegal, improper, and immoral."