Human Rights Watch, Oxfam, B’Tselem and ICAHD all condemned the Israeli government’s September 19 statement that it may place sanctions on Gaza in response to continued rocket fire and terrorism emanating from the Hamas-controlled territory. This decision’s practical and legal ramifications are unclear, and no action has yet been taken. Possible measures, according to the statement, include “a restriction of various goods,” reduction of the “supply of fuel and electricity”, and “restrictions . . . on movement of people to and from Gaza.” The statement states that the measures “will be enacted following a legal examination, while taking into account both the humanitarian aspects relevant to the Gaza Strip and the intention to avoid a humanitarian crisis.”
On September 20, HRW (which has a history of instant condemnations, before the facts are known) predictably declared that “Israel’s threat to impose additional sanctions on the Gaza Strip would constitute unlawful collective punishmentof Gaza’s civilian population. HRW issued a similar press release on June 29, 2006, condemning Israel for attacking Gaza’s power plant in response to the kidnapping of Corporal Gilad Shalit.
Oxfam joined HRW in preemptively condemning Israel. Jeremy Hobbs, executive director of Oxfam International, called Israel’s actions "immoral and contrary to the Geneva Conventions." ICAHD (which is funded by the EU under the “partnership for peace” budget), called for one-sided international action to "prevent the starvation siege Israel plans to impose on Gaza." Israeli NGO B’Tselem added its voice to the condemnations, arguing that "regardless of how they might cloak it, cutting off electricity to a civilian population is collective punishment and a violation of international law…It doesn’t really make a difference whether it’s cutting off the supply from Israel or bombing the power station."
All of these statements generally ignored the context of terrorism and give short shrift to Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense. These NGOs have shown very little interest in the rocket attacks and terrorism emanating from Gaza, while focusing narrowly on the Israeli government’s efforts to find a means of deterring these attacks.