DUBAI (AFP) - A group of Arab international lawyers and human rights activists accused Israel on Sunday of committing "genocide" through its crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip. "The catastrophic situation in which Gaza citizens live, which led to the deterioration of medical, economic, ecological and humanitarian conditions, in addition to the death of innocent people, amounts to genocide," said the 11 activists in a statement received by AFP. Israel is committing "genocide" as defined in the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, they wrote. Israel has blockaded the impoverished Palestinian territory since the Islamist Hamas movement seized power there in June 2007.  The activists said the blockade "does not comply with any international treaty," including those signed by Arab countries with Israel. "Hence breaking the siege would not violate any international treaty signed by Arab countries with Israel. "International legal responsibility for this crime is borne by anyone who abets or participates in it," they added. More than 40 Western and other activists travelled by boat from Cyprus to the coastal strip in defiance of the blockade last month. The Arab activists recalled that the blockade had been denounced by such prominent figures as South African Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu, who said during a visit to Gaza last May that the international community's "silence and complicity" on the situation there "shames us all." Signatories from Gulf countries included Mahmoud al-Mubarak from Saudi Arabia; Muhammad al-Roken, Muhammad Saqr al-Zaabi and Muhammad al-Qassemi from the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrainis Nabil Rajab and Abdelnabi al-Ikri. Others were Swiss-based Tunisian rights activist Rashid Musalli, Algerian law professor Ahmad Si Ali, Syrian Ahmed Haj Suleiman, Egyptian Abdullah al-Ashaal and Waddah bin Edris of the Cairo-based Arab Programme for Human Rights Activists.