The government of Switzerland has accused Israel of using collective punishment against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as it seeks to free an Israeli soldier held captive there.

Switzerland's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that Israel's use of force in the Gaza Strip violates international law. It called on the Jewish state to respect international conventions in its drive to free the soldier.

The Swiss Foreign Ministry statement cited an Israeli airstrike that knocked out a power station in the Gaza Strip. It also called Israel's arrest of officials of the Islamic militant group Hamas arbitrary and unjustified. It accused Israel of violating the principle of proportionality.

The statement also called for the rapid release of the Israeli soldier, but it said Israel has an obligation to respect international law.

After the Israeli soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit, was kidnapped, Israel seized eight Palestinian cabinet members and more than 50 officials of the Islamic militant group. It also bombed the office of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

Switzerland is the repository of the Geneva Conventions, which regulate the obligations of occupying powers toward civilians under their control.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.