Inter Press Service (reporting from Brussels), February 20, 2009 - European Union aid has been given to an Israeli oil company which has reduced the supply of fuel to Gaza as part of an economic blockade internationally recognised as illegal, Brussels officials have admitted.
Almost 97 million euros (124 million dollars) in funds managed by the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, were handed over directly to the firm Dor Alon between February 2008 and January this year. Under orders from the Israeli authorities, Dor Alon has been rationing the amount of industrial diesel brought into Gaza in order to deprive its 1.5 million inhabitants of electricity. Power cuts have been a regular occurrence in Gaza because of Israeli actions undertaken since the militant party Hamas won an unexpected victory in Palestinian legislative elections during 2006.
Charles Shamas from the Mattin Group, an organisation based in the West Bank that monitors Europe's relationship with Israel, said that the EU has been helping to accommodate the economic blockade of Gaza. This is despite how the Union's most senior diplomats, including its foreign policy chief Javier Solana and the external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, have condemned the blockade as 'collective punishment' of a civilian population. Collective punishment constitutes a war crime, according to the 1949 Geneva convention.
"The European Union has to give aid lawfully," said Shamas. "That means a good faith effort not to conform to the wrongful acts of others. In this case, the EU is giving effect to wrongful measures by Israel. You can't really credibly call on Israel to correct its behaviour if you are adjusting what you do to fit in to that behaviour."....