A leading human rights group again on Monday urged Israel to end the Gaza blockade, saying it is "suffocating" the 1.4 million Palestinians living in the Strip.
Israel blockaded Gaza after the Hamas group overran it in 2007. The blockade has prevented the territory from rebuilding after Israel's bruising war there last winter, and has drawn widespread and repeated criticism from rights groups.
Israel, which allows only limited humanitarian supplies into Gaza, says the blockade is meant to pressure Hamas and prevent materials that could be used to produce weapons from reaching the militants.
In its latest statement, Amnesty International dismissed Israel's claim that the blockade targets Gaza militants who have fired thousands of rockets on southern Israel.
"The reality is that 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 Malcom Smart, the group's Middle East and North Africa director.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev promptly rebuffed Amnesty and accused Hamas of abusing the Gazans.
"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," Regev said.
This time, Amnesty did not assail Egypt, which has also blockaded its boundary with Gaza. The sealed borders have forced Gazans to build hundreds of tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt frontier to smuggle in goods as well as weapons.