Wednesday, December 30, 2009
The impact of closure and attacks on the Gaza Strip
The following is the introduction to a new report from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights entitled "23 Days of War, 928 Days of Closure: Life One Year after Israel's Latest Offensive on the Gaza Strip":
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) has released this report in order to highlight the reality of life in the occupied Gaza Strip, and to illustrate the dramatic deterioration in the human rights situation brought about by 928 days of continuous illegal closure, as well as numerous offensives, incursions and attacks.
Over the course of 42 years of occupation, Israeli occupation forces have consistently violated international law. These violations have been well documented and reported, yet despite a significant level of media and political attention, the international community has continued to grant Israel impunity, a fact recently illustrated by the international reaction to the publication of the Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (the Goldstone Report). This impunity, which has been a consistent feature of the occupation, has resulted in continuous and escalating violations of international law, and the denial and violation of Palestinian civilians' fundamental human rights. This reality was graphically underlined by Israel
It is evident that if the rule of law is to be respected -- if it is to prove capable of protecting civilian populations -- then it must be enforced. Victims' rights to the equal protection of the law, and an effective judicial remedy must be upheld, Israel and individual Israeli officials and soldiers must be held to account for their actions.
International human rights law and international humanitarian law form the core bodies of law referenced in this report. However, PCHR wishes to emphasize that the international community may also be in violation of their own legal obligations. Common Article 1 of the Four Geneva Conventions requires all High Contracting to respect and ensure respect for the Conventions in all circumstances; there is no valid pretext, legal or otherwise, for not respecting the Conventions in their entirety. Article 16 of the International Law Commission's Articles on State Responsibility for Internationally Wrongful Acts places an obligation on the individual states of the international community not to aid or assist the commission of an internationally wrongful act. Such aid and assistance includes, inter alia, financing the wrongful acts in question. Article 41 explicitly prohibits States from rendering aid or assistance sued to maintain the situation created by a serious breach of international law. By continually covering the financial cost associated with Israel's illegal actions in the occupied Palestinian territory, individual States are in breach of their own international obligations, and complicit in the occupation's violations of international law.