” Palestine and International Law”
Since 1948, Palestinians have lived under the brutal and illegal Israeli occupation. More than forty-five years ago, Israel began building settlements in Palestinian territory in order to assert their claim to all of our land. During these years, Palestine has lost many souls including many innocent children. Israel wants to steal all of our land.
Gaza is an exclave region of Palestine on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea that borders Egypt on the southwest for 11 kilometers and Israel on the east and north along a 51 km border. Nearly two million people almost live in Gaza, almost 1.0 million of them are UN-registered refugees. Gaza is considered one Gaza one of the most densely-populated areas on earth. Gaza’s population lives under the blockade by air, land and water imposed by Israel since 2007, constituting a violation of the 4th Geneva Convention. This inhuman and illegal blockade controls Gaza’s access to electricity, water, internet, medical equipment and even the number of calories that enter the strip.
On July 8, 2014, Israel started their massive military aggression against the Gaza Strip denominated “Operation Protective Edge”, once again collectively punishing is inflicted to my people. According to international law, collective punishment is a war crime. Israel used its usual arsenal of weapons against my people but also used new, experimental weapons, as if we are not human but guinea pigs in a lab.
Israel builds new settlements and continues to expand existing ones. Chedi Klibi, former Secretary-General of the Arab League, outlines three basic objectives of Israel’s expansionism: 1) The annexation of more Arab lands, including the displacement of the inhabitants which lead to demographic changes that increase the Jewish population; expropriation of Palestinian property and the necessary and continuous repression required to prevent us from keeping what is rightfully ours. 2) The preemption of any attempt by the Palestinian people to affirm our human rights, among which is the right of self-determination in our own land. Thus, the original and long term objective of proliferating and expanding settlements is to eliminate my people and our recognized national rights from the political map of the region. 3) To use the settlement issue to foil any political solution that doesn’t concede full Israeli sovereignty over occupied Palestinian territory. Israel is saying, in effect, that it will accept nothing less than surrender, even though it insists on calling this surrender “Peace.”
Furthermore, Israel regularly breaks cease fires agreed with the Palestinians. On November 4, 2008, Israel killed seven Palestinians, ending the truce agreed with Hamas in June of 2008 and setting the stage for its genocidal invasion of my land, which was called “Operation Cast Lead”. A statistical analysis from Harvard, MIT and Tel Aviv University found that “79% of all conflict pauses were interrupted when Israel killed a Palestinian, while only 8% were interrupted by Palestinian attacks (the remaining 13% were interrupted by both sides on the same day)” and that “of the 25 periods of nonviolence lasting longer than a week, Israel unilaterally broke 24, and it unilaterally interrupted 100% of the 14 periods of nonviolence lasting longer than nine days. Thus, a systematic pattern does exist: it is overwhelmingly Israel, not Palestine that breaks the cease fire agreements. Indeed, it is virtually always Israel that violates these truces lasting more than a week. Israel has violated International law over and over through its savage actions towards the Palestinian people.
In this latest attack on Gaza, Israel has killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including almost five-hundred children. Israel’s use of prohibited weapons against my people is a clear violation of the 1980 Protocol to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, to which Israel is a signatory. In addition, Israel has used civilians as human shields in many areas such as Khusa‘a, East of Khan Younis, near to where I live. Israel justifies its war crimes by claiming that Palestinian resistance fighters hide among the civilian population. Mainstream human rights organizations have refuted that allegation and have accused Israel of using human shields, in 2002, during “Operation Defensive Shield” and in 2008-2009 during “Operation Cast Lead”. The use of human shields is prohibited under international law.
Did Israel respect the human rights of the Palestinians? Of all human rights, the most natural is the right to live and work in one’s own country. Israel has consistently denied this right to my people, and continues to deny it in a most brutal and inhumane way to the nearly two million Palestinians who live in the Gaza Strip.