On Thursday 16th November 2006, Al Mezan delivered a letter to the distinguished representatives of the European Union (EU) calling upon them to intervene and bring a halt to Israel’s continued violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in the Gaza Strip.
In its letter to the EU, Al Mezan brought special attention to the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) violations of human rights in its most recent incursion into Beit Hanoun, in the continued Israeli siege of the entire Gaza Strip, and in the Israeli government’s almost complete denial of Palestinian’s right to free movement.
Al Mezan’s monitoring of the situation in the field indicates that in its recent attacks, Israel continues to launch indiscriminate military force against civilian areas and uses measures and means that violate both their rights and its obligations under international law. This has included intensive military action in urban areas during which dozens of casualties occurred and the intentional killing of unarmed civilians without any apparent necessity. In addition, IOF targeted medical teams and property. These represent a systematic pattern of practice and not just occasional mistakes. In addition, the IOF has not taken the necessary measures to ensure the wellbeing of the civilian population during its operations.
Al Mezan also notes with grave concern that while Israel repeats its claims that Gaza is no longer occupied, the IOF has continued to control Gaza’s borders, air-space and sea space: Israel completely controls Gaza’s access to the outside world and has closed Gaza off from it. The movements of goods and people have been almost totally prohibited over the last five months.
In particular, according to Al Mezan field investigations, during these months Rafah Crossing Point has been open only a handful of days, in a highly unpredictable and erratic manner. The Crossing Point has been used as a tool to collectively punish the entire population. This has prevented Palestinians from being able to enjoy many of their most basic rights, such as accessing medical treatment (much of which is unavailable in Gaza), gaining higher education, or basic freedom of movement. The agreements that have so far been signed have been inadequate in both recognizing and guaranteeing these rights.
Al Mezan calls upon the EU, which has been known for its clearest and strongest condemnation of human rights violations worldwide, as well as for its long history of intervention in the OPT, to speak out further about human rights violations in Gaza. As the third party in the Rafah Crossing Agreement, and as representatives of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Al Mezan calls upon the EU to provide protection and assistance to the civilians under occupation in Gaza in the absence of a real commitment by Israel to respect international law.