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Amnesty International on Monday accused Israel of "collectively punishing" the population of Gaza with border closures tightened after the Islamist Hamas movement's bloody 2007 takeover.
The British-based rights group said the firing of rockets by Palestinian militants -- which the Israeli military says has dropped by about 90 percent since its offensive in Gaza last year -- did not justify the sanctions.
"The blockade does not target armed groups but rather punishes Gaza?s entire population by restricting the entry of food, medical supplies, educational equipment and building materials," said Malcolm Smart, the group's Middle East and North Africa director, in a statement.
"The blockade constitutes collective punishment under international law and must be lifted immediately."
Amnesty said Egypt was partly to blame because it only occasionally opens its Rafah crossing with the Gaza Strip -- the only terminal bypassing Israel.
It also faulted Cairo for starting work on an underground border wall in a bid to halt the smuggling tunnels that have become an economic lifeline to the territory but are also used by Hamas to smuggle in weapons and money.
"However, as the occupying power, it is Israel that bears the foremost responsibility for ensuring the welfare of the inhabitants of Gaza," Amnesty said.
Responding to the report, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev blamed Hamas.
"The Palestinians in Gaza are under the thumb of the brutal Hamas regime that places violent jihad against Israel above the well-being and the welfare of the people of Gaza," he said.
"Like its patron, the Iranian regime, Hamas has no qualms whatsoever in abusing Gaza's civilian population on the altar of its extremist agenda."