Archive for International humanitarian law

“Severe violations of Human Rights in Occupied Palestinian Territories,” reports UN Committee on Israeli Practices

Posted in Gaza, Gaza war crimes investigation, International community, Israeli occupation, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, War crimes, West Bank with tags , , , , , , on 15/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 14th August 2009

Source: United Nations Office of the High Comissioner for Human Rights

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GENEVA – DAMASCUS: “Violations of the international humanitarian law during the operation Cast Lead, in particular the targeting of civilian population and wanton destruction of property and religious and cultural objects”, will be reported to the United Nations General Assembly by the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.

At the end of a ten-day field mission to three Middle Eastern countries, the Special Committee expressed “particular concern for an increasing number of incidents of violence by Jewish settlers against Palestinian population in the West Bank in the presence of Israeli army and police.”

The three-member panel has also recorded the pressure on human rights defenders, both Israeli and Palestinians working to alleviate the suffering in occupied territories.

Furthermore, at the General Assembly 64th session this year, the Committee will be noting “continuous and in some cases worsening violations of economic and cultural rights, in particular the right to education and health, further restrictions of movement and attacks on and destruction of Palestinian farmlands and orchards.”

Since its establishment in 1968, the Special Committee has repeatedly been denied cooperation by the Government of Israel or access to the OPT.

The Special Committee began its mission in Egypt on 04 August from where it traveled to Jordan and, finally, Syria, where it recorded the testimonies of witnesses and non-governmental organizations of the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and occupied Golan.

The panel met the foreign ministers in Egypt, Jordan and Syria, as well as members of the League of Arab States, government officials, activists and representatives of Palestinian and Israeli non-governmental organizations. The Committee visited the Palestinian Hospital in Cairo where it heard about the difficulties in accessing health care and obtaining needed medications in the Gaza Strip.

On its last day in Syria, the Committee visited Quneitra and received testimonies pertaining to the discrimination in access to health services in occupied Golan, restrictions of family visits and other violations of civil, political, economic and cultural rights of Palestinians and Arab populations.

In its report to the General Assembly, the Committee will draw on exhaustive interviews and testimonies taken during its visits to Cairo, Amman and Damascus, as well as numerous reports by experts including the reports by the High Commissioner of Human Rights, special rapporteurs and many national and international non-governmental organizations. The Committee focused its investigation on the situation in occupied Gaza, West Bank, East Jerusalem and the occupied Golan.

The Special Committee is composed of three Member States: Sri Lanka (Chairman), Malaysia and Senegal. Ambassador Ali currently chairs the Special Committee, due to the absence of the Sri Lankan Ambassador. Senegal is represented by Ambassador Babacar Mbaye, Permanent Representative of that country to the UN in Geneva, while Ms. Samantha Jayasuriya, counsellor at the Sri Lankan Mission to the UN in New York, is representing her country.

Under varying membership,The Special Committee has existed since 1968 when it was established by the General Assembly. Its mandate was most recently renewed on 18 December 2008, in a resolution A/RES/63/95 referring to the principles of international humanitarian law, in particular to the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and to international standards of human rights, in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenants on Human Rights.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Impunity for war crimes in Gaza and southern Israel a recipe for further civilian suffering

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza, Gaza reconstruction, Gaza war crimes investigation, Hamas, IDF, International community, Israel, Israeli occupation, Israeli politics, Non-violent resistance, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Siege, USA foreign policy, War crimes with tags , , , , , , , , on 02/07/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 2nd July 2009

Source: Amnesty International

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Israeli forces killed hundreds of unarmed Palestinian civilians and destroyed thousands of homes in Gaza in attacks which breached the laws of war, Amnesty International concluded in a new report published on Thursday. Operation ‘Cast Lead’: 22 days of death and destruction, is the first comprehensive report to be published on the conflict, which took place earlier this year.

“Israel’s failure to properly investigate its forces’ conduct in Gaza, including war crimes, and its continuing refusal to cooperate with the UN international independent fact-finding mission headed by Richard Goldstone, is evidence of its intention to avoid public scrutiny and accountability,” said Donatella Rovera, who headed a field research mission to Gaza and southern Israel during and after the conflict.

“The international community, led by the UN Security Council, must use all its leverage to ensure that Israel cooperates fully with the Goldstone inquiry, which now offers the best means to establish the truth.”

Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups fired hundreds of rockets into southern Israel, killing three Israeli civilians, injuring scores and driving thousands from their homes. “Such unlawful attacks constitute war crimes and are unacceptable,” added Donatella Rovera.

The report, based on evidence gathered by Amnesty International delegates, including a military expert, during field research in January and February, documents Israel’s use of battlefield weapons against a civilian population trapped in Gaza, with no means of escape.

The scale and intensity of the attacks on Gaza were unprecedented. Some 300 children and hundreds of other unarmed civilians who took no part in the conflict were among the 1,400 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces.

Most were killed with high-precision weapons, relying on surveillance drones which have exceptionally good optics, allowing those observing to see their targets in detail. Others were killed with imprecise weapons, including artillery shells carrying white phosphorus – not previously used in Gaza – which should never be used in densely populated areas.

Amnesty International found that the victims of the attacks it investigated were not caught in the crossfire during battles between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces, nor were they shielding militants or other military objects. Many were killed when their homes were bombed while they slept. Others were sitting in their yard or hanging the laundry on the roof. Children were struck while playing in their bedrooms or on the roof, or near their homes. Paramedics and ambulances were repeatedly attacked while attempting to rescue the wounded or recover the dead.

“The deaths of so many children and other civilians cannot be dismissed simply as ‘collateral damage’, as argued by Israel,” said Donatella Rovera. “Many questions remain to be answered about these attacks and about the fact that the strikes continued unabated despite the rising civilian death toll.”

More than 3,000 homes were destroyed and some 20,000 damaged in Israeli attacks which reduced entire neighbourhoods of Gaza to rubble and left an already dire economic situation in ruins. Much of the destruction was wanton and could not be justified on grounds of “military necessity”.

The Israeli army has not responded to Amnesty International’s repeated requests over the past five months for information on specific cases detailed in the report and for meetings to discuss the organization’s findings.

“For its part, Hamas has continued to justify the rocket attacks launched daily by its fighters and by other Palestinian armed groups into towns and villages in southern Israel during the 22-day conflict. Though less lethal, these attacks, using unguided rockets which cannot be directed at specific targets, violated  international humanitarian law and cannot be justified under any circumstance,” said Donatella Rovera.

In addition to locally made Qassam rockets, Palestinian militants often fired longer-range Grad-type rockets smuggled into Gaza via the tunnels on the Egyptian border, which reached deeper into Israel and placed many more Israeli civilians at risk.

“Five months on, neither side has shown any inclination to change its practices and abide by international humanitarian law, raising the prospect that civilians will again bear the brunt if fighting resumes,” said Donatella Rovera.

Under international law, states have a responsibility to exercise universal jurisdiction and start criminal investigations in national courts, wherever there is sufficient evidence of war crimes or other crimes under international law, to arrest and bring to justice alleged perpetrators.

“Those responsible for war crimes and other serious violations must not be allowed to escape accountability and justice,” said Donatella Rovera.

Among other recommendations, the report calls on states to suspend all transfers of military equipment, assistance and munitions to Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups until there is no longer a substantial risk that such equipment will be used to commit serious violations of international law.

It calls on Israel to commit not to carry out direct, indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks on civilians; or use artillery, mortars and white phosphorus weapons in densely populated areas; and to end its blockade on the Gaza Strip, which is collectively punishing the entire population.

The report urges Hamas to renounce its policy of unlawful rocket attacks against civilian population centres in Israel and to prevent other armed groups from carrying out such attacks.

Gaza Borders (the Siege)

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza, International community, International conferences, Israeli occupation, Israeli politics, Pictures, Siege, USA foreign policy, War crimes with tags , , , , on 25/04/2009 by 3071km
The only crossing between Gaza and Egypt is being closed since two years in front the movement of the Palestinian.

The only crossing between Gaza and Egypt is being closed since two years in front the movement of the Palestinian.

The series of Israel agressions

It is no more secret to anyone how difficult it is living in a geographical area in which residents are prevented from leaving or even return. This happens after the closure of the Palestinian economic life and in the light of Israel’s national, regional and global interests. However, the suffering of Palestinians and the worsening of their life standards due to the ongoing Israeli blockade are against the need to give them legal protection in accordance with the rules of the  international humanitarian law.

Many field reports and legal studies on the suffering of civilians in Gaza found similar results and highlight that the closure of crossings by Israel continues and this aggravates the humanitarian situation Gaza is facing. Israeli actions are considered by the international law a collective punishment imposed to cause unnecessary pain. We should highlight here that the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli military occupation authorities signed an agreement in November the 15th 2005 under the auspices of the USA. This agreement was described by some as disappointing. The idea of this Convention started after the declaration of Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, which is only a redeployment of its troops, leaving Israel as an occupying power.

The continuation of the Israeli military occupation forces Israel to implement a policy of collective punishment against the Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip. Since the outbreak of the Intifada there is a clear violation of the rules of international law and of Human Rights, which guarantee everyone the right of movement and access. The Israeli military occupation has violated the international law and especially the Article (13) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that

“Everyone has the right and freedom of movement, and everyone is entitled to leave any country including his own and also has the right to return”

There is also a very clear violation of the provisions of Article (12) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, which provides that

“Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State has the right to freedom of movement and freedom to choose their place of residence, and every individual has the freedom to leave any country, including his own”

Israel’s policy of illegal aggression is against the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966, which under Articles (1-2) states that

“In no case may the people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.”

and under Article (5) of the same Covenant:

“prohibit any State, group or person engaging in any activity or perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights or freedoms recognized in the Covenant or the imposition of restrictions”.

Such organized and programmed violation of the international law by Israel in the recent years, despite the absence of an active military presence of the occupying Israeli military forces in the Strip, does not mean the end of all military occupation of Gaza. Instead, the reality on the ground confirms the continuation of effective control by the Israeli occupation authorities on the freedom of movement and the movement from and into the Gaza strip, and Israel’s continuous control of the crossings as a pressure on the Palestinian people to achieve their political objectives and security.

What we want to emphasize here is the need to call upon the international community and the international institutions and organizations to exert pressure on Israel. They must order Israel, which is worth remembering it is the occupier, to open all the crossings and guarantee the free movement of persons and goods, something compulsory in order to avoid a potential humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip. The international community should also appeal to the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention for the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949, work to ensure Israel’s respect for the Convention in the Palestinian territories and provide immediate protection for Palestinian civilians, working hard to compel the Israeli authorities to immediately stop political collective punishment against civilians of the Gaza Strip and lifting of restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement.