Thursday, January 8, 2009

Legal Aspects of Israel’s Attacks on the Gaza Strip - AL-Haq Brief

Al-Haq Legal Brief, January 7, 2009

Legal Aspects of Israel’s Attacks on the Gaza Strip during “Operation Cast Lead”

Summary of Conclusions:

1. During "Operation Cast Lead" Israel has not only publicly expressed but also effectively demonstrated its unwillingness to distinguish between civilians and combatants on the one hand and between civilian objects and military objectives on the other. Acting upon a legally false claim that anything allegedly affiliated with Hamas – be it a home, school, mosque or a chicken farm – "is a legitimate military target," Israel attempts to create a legal façade for its unlwaful attacks on the Gaza Strip. Further, by disguising its offensive in the form of claimed self-defence, Israel seeks to legitimise the killing of almost 700 Palestinians, the vast majority of whom were civilians (including many children), and the injury of more than 3,000, in addition to the destruction of hundreds of homes and the damage of thousands.

2. This cynical manipulation of the letter and spirit of international law has made way for an international discourse which risks reinterpreting and therefore compromising the most fundamental principles of international law for the sake of political interests. This in turn has resulted in the continuing failure of the international community, including the High Contracting Parties of the Geneva Conventions, the UN Security Council and General Assembly and the EU to effectively engage their own clearly defined legal obligations to ensure respect for international humanitarian law and amounts to tacit acquiescence to Israel's calculated and systematic disregard for international humanitarian law.

3. The cost of international inaction is being born by a terrorised Palestinian civilian population who has no safe haven. It is therefore necessary for the international community to reaffirm its commitment to the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and to create the necessary political will to take effective measures against those who ridicule and blatantly violate them.

4. Any genuine international intervention that aims at achieving a just and durable solution to the conflict must above all acknowledge international law as the basis of any agreement and address the root cause of the conflict, the Israeli occupation.

Read the full report online ...

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