The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) strongly condemns the attack committed by the Israeli army on Monday, July 22, in which an F-16 dropped a missile onto a densely populated area of Gaza City, thereby causing the death of 15 people and severely injuring many others.
This operation constitutes a serious breach of international humanitarian law, particularly in regards to the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the protection of civilians in time of war, adopted August 12 1949 and ratified by Israel.
The Convention provides that the armed forces must distinguish between combattants and non-combattants, and must carry out their operation to realize military objectives only. The operation described above was wholly unjustified, as “The presence within the civilian population of individuals who do not come within the definition of civilians does not deprive the population of its civilian character” (Article 50, §3 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions).
The FIDH recalls that such a serious breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, committed against people and goods protected by the Convention, constitutes a war crime.
Such a military attack undertaken in total disregard for international humanitarian law, for customary international law governing armed conflicts, is none other than a manifestation of state terrorism, which can not constitute a response to the terrorism of which the Israeli population is victim. This endless cycle of violence makes one fear that the Israeli and Palestinian civilian populations will continue to be targets of serious infractions of international humanitarian law.
Israel, having signed but not ratified the Statute of the International Criminal Court, has also not expressed its intention to recognize its ad hoc jurisdiction. Therefore, these acts can not be brought forth before the Court, for it only has jurisdiction in regards to citizens of State parties or to crimes committed within the territory of a State party. Only the Security Council can submit such cases to the Prosecutor (art. 13 of the Statute of the Court).
This perspective proves the responsibility of permanent members of the Security Council to end the conflict and guarantee that the violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law that are perpetrated do not remain unpunished.
The FIDH urges Israel to:
- end all violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and punish those responsible for these violation;
- ratify the Statute of the International Criminal Court
The FIDH recalls that there is only one solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: a political solution. The FIDH invites the international community to work to ensure such a solution. To this end, the FIDH reiterates its call for the immediate deployment of an international protection force.
The FIDH recalls the responsibility of all States parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention to:
- “respect and ensure respect” international humanitarian law (art. 1). The FIDH calls for the European Union and the United States to fulfill this responsibility and to react immediately to the recent events;
- to “find the persons suspected of having committed or of having ordered to be committed one of these serious infractions and to defer them to their own courts, whatever their nationality” (art. 146).
Federation International des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH), 17, passage de la Main d’Or, 75011, Paris, France, CCP Paris: 76 76 Z, Tel. (33-1) 43 55 25 18 / Fax. (33-1) 43 55 18 80, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, web: www.fidh.org