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National Lawyers Guild Urges Egypt to Heed International Law Obligations and Allow Safe Passage to Gaza for Gaza Freedom March and Viva Palestina Convoy Members

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) calls on the government of Egypt to heed its obligations under international law and allow safe passage to Gaza and guarantee protection for delegates of the Gaza Freedom March and the Viva Palestina convoy.

James Leas, co-chair of the Guild’s Free Palestine Subcommittee said:

Egypt is in danger of breaching its responsibility under the Fourth Geneva Convention if it fails to allow an aid convoy and freedom marchers bringing aid into the besieged territory of Gaza

The aid convoy, “Viva Palestina,” includes 250 trucks carrying humanitarian supplies. The 1,400 Gaza Freedom Marchers from more than 43 countries are coming to join the Palestinians of Gaza in a non-violent march to the Israeli border to demand that the unjust siege be lifted, and they are carrying additional humanitarian aid. Both groups are attempting to enter Gaza through its border with Egypt, which has so far barred them from crossing.

Gaza has been under siege and its population has been inadequately supplied for more than 30 months. The crisis was vastly intensified by the massive assault on Gaza one year ago in which Israeli forces killed nearly 1,400 people and destroyed thousands of houses and civilian infrastructure, including agricultural land, a poultry farm, and Gaza’s only flour mill. The UN has repeatedly reported increasingly severe malnutrition among children.

NLG President David Gespass said:

Under international law, neither Israel nor Egypt has a right to stop the convoy and marchers nor prevent free passage of their consignments. As the Occupying Power, Israel bears primary responsibility for the welfare of the Palestinian people. Given Israel’s failure to comply with international law, Egypt’s compliance is all the more vital, and under international law Egypt must allow passage and guarantee protection.

Egypt was among the first to sign on to the Geneva Conventions in August 1949 and ratified the treaty in 1952. Article 59 of the convention provides in part:

If the whole or part of the population of an occupied territory is inadequately supplied, the Occupying Power shall agree to relief schemes on behalf of the said population, and shall facilitate them by all the means at its disposal.

Such schemes, which may be undertaken either by States or by impartial humanitarian organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, shall consist, in particular, of the provision of consignments of foodstuffs, medical supplies and clothing.

All Contracting Parties shall permit the free passage of these consignments and shall guarantee their protection.

Article 147 provides that a “grave breach” of the convention includes “willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health.”

The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 and is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. It sent a delegation to Gaza shortly after the Israeli incursion and published its findings in a report that can be downloaded at the following link: www.nlg.org/ NLGGazaDelegatio nReport.pdf.

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