Dr. Fawwaz Abu Sitta, Economics Professor at Al-Azhar University, who lives near the Palestinian Ministry for Foreign Affairs: “The recurrence of this terrible deed without any effort from anyone to stop it makes one feel bitter and hopeless. In addition, one feels the inability to act and avoid the bombardment, despite fully expecting it before hand. Repeating the bombardment of a target that has no military or material value makes this bombardment a form of sadistic collective punishment; because bombing a second time is only for spreading fear among civilians in the homes around the building; and their homes were damaged by the bombardment. This act has transgressed the boundary of standard collective punishment and has become sadistic collective punishment as it entails punishing civilians in their homes. This is what one feels directly after the bombardment when hearing the screams of children and women, and the state of shock and anxiety. It is very scary, and cannot be compared to a state of shock in any other calamity. It is a state of shock unique for this kind of calamity.”
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) continued the aggression on the Gaza Strip for the 4th consecutive week, inflicting additional casualties among Palestinian civilians and destruction of civilian property. IOF continue to systematically target infrastructure and governmental institutions, to undermine the Palestinian political system. Further, IOF continue to hold nearly 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip hostages after closing all its borders, and prevent food and supplies from entering the Strip freely. The situation is the worst in years, and could escalate into a humanitarian and environmental catastrophe. As this press release is published, IOF continue to advance into the town of Beit Hanoun, and to isolate it from its surroundings. Most of the town is under direct IOF occupation. Many families were forced to flee their houses due to indiscriminate IOF shelling. IOF troops have taken over residential structures and converted them into military outposts, while detaining hundreds of civilians, including journalists, inside. IOF use these detained civilians as human shields during bulldozing and detention operations. IOF have prevented the Red Cross and some relief organizations from accessing the area. PCHR calls upon the international community, including the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention and international governmental and nongovernmental organizations, to work towards preventing a humanitarian catastrophe in Beit Hanoun and its surroundings. The Centre calls upon these parties to work towards ensuring that international humanitarian organizations and medical teams are allowed to fulfill their missions and provide food and medication to the civilian population.
The most notable IOF crimes during the past 24 hours are:
PCHR reiterates its condemnation of IOF willful killing of Palestinian civilians. The Centre considers these crimes as a form of reprisal and collective punishment against Palestinians, which is a violation of article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. PCHR points to the fact that IOF do not respect the principles of necessity and proportionality when using its war machine against Palestinian resistance activists when they are in non-combat situations in civilian areas, which leads to casualties from among the civilian population and to damage of civilian property.
In the Center’s view, the complacency of the international community and the High Contracting Parties of the 4th Geneva Convention and their failure tot take effective steps to stop Israeli war crimes has been a supporting and encouraging element for Israel to continue perpetrating additional war crimes against Palestinian civilians. The legal cover provided to Israel by the US, which purposely hinders International Humanitarian Law, and the conspiracy of silence by Europe encourage Israeli to continue to perpetrate war crimes unchecked, placing it above international law.
The Centre reminds the High Contracting Parties of:
The Centre calls upon the Swiss Government to:
The Centre calls upon the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to:
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is an independent legal body based in Gaza City dedicated to protecting human rights, promoting the rule of law and upholding democratic principles in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It holds Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations and is an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists, the Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH), and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network. PCHR is a recipient of the 1996 French Republic Award for Human Rights.