On the first anniversary of Israel's offensive on the Gaza Strip (27 December 2008 - 18 January 2009), the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) call on the international community to respect and ensure respect for the rule of law.
Over 42 years of occupation Israel has been granted impunity; it has been allowed to act as a State above the law. Not once has Israel - or individual Israelis suspected of committing war crimes - been investigated, tried and prosecuted in accordance with the demands of international law. The consequences are evident: history has shown that as long as Israel is granted impunity, it will continue to violate international law; Palestinian civilians will continue to suffer the horrific consequences.
Israel's offensive on the Gaza Strip was the brutal manifestation of this reality. Over 1,400 Palestinians were killed, 82% of whom were civilians, the protected persons of international humanitarian law. At least 5,300 Palestinians were injured, and public and private property and infrastructure throughout the Gaza Strip was deliberately and extensively targeted and destroyed. However, while the scale of the offensive was unprecedented, PCHR emphasize that the underlying crimes have been a consistent and well documented feature of Israel's occupation.
Today the Gaza Strip has been subject to 928 days of continuous illegal closure. This form of collective punishment which indiscriminately affects each and every one of Gaza's 1.5 million inhabitants, has resulted in a man-made and completely preventable humanitarian crisis. Over 80% of Gazan's now depend on food aid, 80,000m3 of sewage is pumped into the sea every day, power cuts are frequent, and patients continue to die as they are denied access to necessary medical treatment.
The rule of law must be enforced. The international community cannot continue to remain complicit as Israel violates fundamental provisions of international human rights and humanitarian law. Individual's human rights are not commodities, or negotiating points, they are non-derogable rights which must be respected and protected.
PCHR stress the urgent need for accountability. All those who violate international law must be investigated, tried and prosecuted in accordance with international standards. Victims' rights to the equal protection of the law and an effective judicial remedy must be upheld.
For further information please see, 23 Days of War, 928 Days of Closure: Life One Year after Israel's Latest Offensive on the Gaza Strip, 27 December 2008 - 18 January 2009.
PCHR call on the international community to:
1. Implement the recommendations contained in the Report of the UN Fact Finding Mission (the Goldstone Report);
2. Fulfill their binding legal obligation to respect and ensure respect for the Geneva Conventions in all circumstances;
3. Ensure that the rule of law is a central component of international relations;
4. Ensure that there can be no impunity for international crimes.
For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 8 2824776 - 2825893
PCHR, 29 Omer El Mukhtar St., El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Webpage http://www.pchrgaza.org