As reported in The Nation (December 26), 16 international human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Oxfam, have lamented betrayal of the Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip by the world for failing to do anything about the Israeli blockade that, being a collective punishment, is a clear violation of the humanitarian law. Since the blockade, only 41 truckloads of construction material has been allowed into Gaza with the result that nearly all of the extensive damage done to homes, civilian infrastructure, public services, farms and businesses by the raze-to-the-ground Israeli bombings of 22 days has remained un-repaired. In their report, the human rights groups have urged the European Union to take immediate and concerted action to ensure lifting of the Gaza blockade. However, there is little hope of any meaningful action by the EU whose powerful members like Germany, France and Britain, in line with the US, have long stopped playing a neutral role in the dispute. They have become direct backers of Israel despite all of its illegal, immoral and brutal actions. This was very evident when a recent EU draft original that proposed East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestine state was diluted so much not to upset Israel that it was practically rendered useless. Also, after the issue, and hasty withdrawal of an arrest warrant for the former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband went to the extent of even promising "necessary amendments to British law" so as not to inconvenience the high officials of strategic partner, Israel. They get tough only with the Muslim countries. -S. R. H. HASHMI, Karachi, December 26