Amid unabated strikes on Palestinians, the United Nation’s human rights commissioner said Israel´s total siege of the Gaza Strip, depriving civilians of goods essential for survival, is banned under international law.
The statement comes a day after Israel imposed a complete blockade on the Gaza Strip including a ban on electricity, water, food, and fuel, and called up an unprecedented 300,000 reservists, raising fears it planned a ground assault.
Volker Turk, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said people's dignity and lives had to be respected as he called for all sides to defuse the "explosive powder-keg situation".
"International humanitarian law is clear: the obligation to take constant care to spare the civilian population and civilian objects remains applicable throughout the attacks," Turk said in a statement.
The siege risk seriously compounding the already dire human rights and humanitarian situation in Gaza, including the capacity of medical facilities to operate, especially in light of increasing numbers of injured, the statement said.
"The imposition of sieges that endanger the lives of civilians by depriving them of goods essential for their survival is prohibited under international humanitarian law," Turk said.
Any restrictions on the movement of people and goods to implement a siege must be justified by military necessity or may otherwise amount to collective punishment, the statement added.
The Hamas movement threatened to execute an Israeli captive every time Israel bombs a Palestinian home without warning, with death toll from the clashes crossing 1500.
Gaza's Health Ministry said at least 687 Palestinians had been martyred and 3,726 wounded in Israeli air strikes on the blockaded enclave since Saturday. Apartment blocks, a mosque and hospitals were among the sites attacked, and the strikes destroyed some roads and houses, according to media reports and eyewitnesses.
Israel also bombed the headquarters of the private Palestinian Telecommunication Co, which could affect landline telephone, internet and mobile phone services.
The strikes continued into the night on Monday. The Israeli military said it hit targets in the Gaza Strip from the sea and air, including a weapons depot it said belonged to Islamic Jihad and Hamas targets along Gaza's coast line.