Israel defends Gaza blockade at UN

Geneva: Israel tells committee that it respects international law.

Israel defended its right to stop aid ships headed for the Gaza Strip during a hearing of the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva on Wednesday, AFP reported.
The two-day committee hearing began on Tuesday, discussing whether Israel was violating obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
“No ship can breach this blockade, be they civil or military ships. Whoever violates the blockade is heading for retaliation,” Israeli envoy Sari Rubenstein told the Human Rights Committee.
“The blockade is legitimate. Under international law... a blockade can be imposed on the sea.”
“These are not activists for peace, but messengers of death,” Ambassador Aharon Leshno-Yaar told the panel on Wednesday, in reference to those aboard the Mavi Marmara.
“We cannot sweep aside with a stroke of the hand the application of the treaty in the Palestinian territories,” said a French member of the committee, Christine Chanet, according to AFP.
The Human Rights Committee is a UN body of 18 experts that meets three times a year for four-week sessions (spring session at UN headquarters in New York, summer and fall sessions at the UN Office in Geneva) to consider the five-yearly reports submitted by 162 UN member states on their compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and to examine individual petitions concerning 112 states parties to the optional protocol to the treaty.