Human Rights Watch said closing the Gaza Strip and cutting off its lifeline amid the humanitarian crisis would be devastating, while a group of independent UN experts reported that Israeli strikes on Gaza amount to collective punishment.

In a statement, the rights group described the Israeli government's cutting of electricity, fuel, water and food from Gaza as a "total siege."

The New York-based organization says recent statements by some European governments regarding the freezing of development aid to Palestine are deeply worrying.

Gaza's only power plant was shut down after fuel ran out, internet service was also cut off, and water pumping wells in the area could be disrupted, and these actions could exacerbate the situation in Gaza, which is already living in dire conditions after 16 years of devastating restrictions.

"Depriving all Gazans of electricity and fuel for acts committed by individuals is a form of collective punishment," the statement said.

The Israeli occupying authorities of Gaza have a duty to ensure that the basic needs of the population are met under international law, but instead since 2007 they have been running Gaza as an "open-air prison" and have imposed sweeping restrictions on the movement of people and goods.

Since Saturday, Israel declared a complete blockade on the Gaza Strip, cutting off electricity and fuel and preventing the entry of food, fuel and aid, while UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday called on Israel to respect international humanitarian law and allow his organization to provide aid to respond to the needs of the Strip.

Collective punishment

A group of independent UN experts also said that Israeli raids on Gaza amounted to collective punishment, and that deliberate starvation and withholding of essential supplies such as food, water, electricity and medicine from Gaza was a crime against humanity.

Israel has resorted to indiscriminate military attacks on already exhausted Palestinians in Gaza, and there is no justification for violence indiscriminately targeting innocent civilians, either by Hamas or Israeli forces.

She stressed that this is strictly prohibited under international law, amounting to a war crime, and called for an immediate cessation of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights, and support for an investigation into the violations that began on the seventh of October.

For its part, Egypt called on the countries of the world and international organizations wishing to provide aid to the Gaza Strip to deliver it to Al-Arish airport "to relieve the Gaza Strip and respond to its suffering as a result of the violent and continuous Israeli bombardment," calling on Israel to avoid targeting the Palestinian side of the crossing.

Al-Arish airport in the northeastern Sinai received the first shipments of relief aid from Jordan in preparation for sending it to Gaza.