Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

Ceasefire isn’t enough for Palestinians in Gaza

Why?

The death and destruction being inflicted on the Gaza Strip is impossible to describe.

Sitting here in Gaza, it is hard to even understand what is happening.

Last week, we witnessed another attack on a United Nations compound where civilians were sheltering — 17 dead, 120 injured — and an attack on a market in Shujaiya during the hours of what was supposed to be a ceasefire — 18 dead, nearly 200 injured.

Raji Sourani in The Electronic Intifada posted this 3 August 2014

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Israeli shelling killed ten Palestinians at a United Nations school on 3 August.(Ashraf Amra / APA images)

Today in Rafah, Israel shelled another school run by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, (established in 1948, and supposedly for limited time to enable the refugees to return home according to UN resolution) where thousands were sheltering, killing ten.

Even the US State Department issued a rare condemnation of Israel, calling the attack “appalling” and “disgraceful.”

This is a nightmare. But it is one we know we cannot wake up from.

Israel’s Gaza Doctrine of illegally targeting densely packed civilian areas and homes is inflicting untold horror.

Israel is deliberately punishing civilians in order to exert political pressure on Hamas. They are collectively punishing the 1.8 million citizens of the Gaza Strip.

How else do you explain the statistics?

The most recent figures collected by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) indicate that 1,817 Palestinians have been killed. Of these, 1,545 — an incredible 85 percent — are civilians: the so-called “protected persons” of international humanitarian law.

(These numbers increased to over 2,100 killed)

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been displaced. Ordered to flee, but with nowhere safe to go:

UN shelters housing civilians have been repeatedly targeted. The Gaza Strip lies in ruins. The destruction of Shujaiya is difficult to comprehend. Even the power plant has been destroyed.

How will our hospitals operate?

How will the sewage treatment centers run? How will we access safe water?

Our demands

In the middle of this we want an end to the violence. We want an end to this horror, to this suffering. Too many children have died. War crimes have become our daily reality.

But a ceasefire is not enough.

We demand justice.

We demand accountability.

We demand to be treated as human beings, to have our inherent human dignity recognized.

We demand an end to the closure of the Gaza Strip.

For the last 7 years, Israel has subjected the Gaza Strip to a strict closure. By shutting the borders, Israel has slowly suffocated Gaza, subjecting us to a process of deliberate under-development.

Before the current offensive, 65 percent of the population were unpaid or unemployed.

85% of the population depended on food aid distributed by international organizations. Patients requiring life-saving treatment unavailable in the Gaza Strip were denied permission to leave. They died.

Life under the closure is not life. We cannot go back to this reality. I cannot imagine another seven years. The closure signifies the absence of hope. It means that Gaza’s youth have no future.

No jobs. No opportunity to leave. Even when the war comes, we cannot flee.

But the closure is only one half of the reality of the Gaza Strip. The other is the total absence of the rule of law. War crimes are committed with complete impunity.

The closure itself is a war crime and it is official policy of the government of Israel.

Beside this there are the constant attacks and the frequent offensives. This is the third major offensive since the closure began. Literally thousands of civilians have been killed. Thousands more homes and livelihoods have been destroyed.

Complete impunity

These war crimes are committed with complete impunity. After Operation Cast Lead — the 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009 offensive — PCHR submitted 490 criminal complaints on behalf of 1,046 victims. (The UN chief Ban Ki Moon tampered with the report of the commission of investigation through the pressure of the US)

In the five years that followed, we received only 44 responses. The Israeli authorities decided that 446 cases didn’t even warrant a reply.

The results?

One soldier was convicted for the theft of a credit card and received a 7-month sentence.

Two soldiers were convicted for using a 9-year-old boy as a human shield. They each received a three-month suspended sentence.

One soldier was convicted for the “misuse of a firearm” in relation to the shooting of a group of civilians carrying white flags, which resulted in the deaths of two women. He was sentenced to 45 days imprisonment.

Is this justice in the eyes of the world community?

The impact of these constant war crimes, and the resultant impunity denies our very dignity, our worth as human beings. It says our lives are not sacred. That we don’t count.

Faced with this existence, our demands are not excessive. They are not unrealistic.

We want to be treated as equals. We want to have our rights respected and protected. We ask that international law be applied, equally, to Israel and Palestine, to Israelis and Palestinians. The rule of international law must be adhered to, and all those responsible for its violations must be held to account.

We ask that suspected war crimes be investigated and those responsible prosecuted. Is this unreasonable?

We want an end to the closure. The illegality of Israel’s closure policy is not in doubt. In a rare public statement the International Committee of the Red Cross explicitly stated that Israel’s closure policy constitutes collective punishment in violation of international law.

The consequences of the policy are evident in the reality of the Gaza Strip.

We ask that the closure be lifted.

We want the opportunity to live a life in dignity. Is this unreasonable?

These are no tpolitical demands. They are a demand to be treated as human.

A ceasefire is not enough. It will not end the suffering.

It will only move us from the horror of death by bombardment to the horror of death by slow strangulation.

We cannot go back to being prisoners in a cage that Israel rattles when it chooses with brutal destructive offensives.

Raji Sourani is the director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.

 

 Flechette shells? Modern antiquity tortures weapons targeting children and used by Israel on Gaza people

Israel using flechette shells in Gaza

The Israeli military is using flechette shells, which spray out thousands of tiny and potentially lethal metal darts, in its military operation in Gaza.

Six flechette shells were fired towards the village of Khuzaa, east of Khan Younis, on 17 July, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.

Nahla Khalil Najjar, 37, suffered injuries to her chest, it said. PCHR provided a picture of flechettes taken by a fieldworker last week.

Palestinian human rights group accuses Israel military of using shells that spray out thousands of tiny and potentially lethal dart
Flechette shell darts

An image provided by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights of darts from a flechette shell it says the Israeli military fired in Gaza last week.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) did not deny using the shells in the conflict.

As a rule, the IDF only employs weapons that have been determined lawful under international law, and in a manner which fully conforms with the laws of armed conflict,” a spokesperson said in response to a request for specific comment on the deployment of flechettes.

B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organisation, describes a flechette shell as “an anti-personnel weapon that is generally fired from a tank. The shell explodes in the air and releases thousands of metal darts 37.5mm in length, which disperse in a conical arch 300 metres long and about 90 metres wide”.

The munitions are not prohibited under international humanitarian law, but according to B’Tselem, “other rules of humanitarian law render their use in the Gaza Strip illegal. One of the most fundamental principles is the obligation to distinguish between those who are involved and those who are not involved in the fighting, and to avoid to the extent possible injury to those who are not involved. Deriving from this principle is the prohibition of the use of an imprecise weapon which is likely to result in civilian injuries.”

Flechette shell darts embedded in a wall in Gaza 

A image taken in 2009 of darts from a flechette shell embedded in a wall in Gaza. Photograph: Ben Curtis/APThe legality of flechette munitions was upheld by the Israeli supreme court in 2002, and according to an Israeli military source, they are particularly effective against enemy fighters operating in areas covered by vegetation. (What kinds of vegetation can you find in Gaza? Meant to be used in Vietnam?)

The source said a number of armies around the world deploy flechette shells, and that they were intended solely for use against legitimate military targets in accordance with international law.

The IDF has deployed flechette shells in Gaza and Lebanon before.

B’Tselem has documented the deaths of nine Palestinians in Gaza from flechettes in 2001 and 2002. Flechettes have also killed and wounded dozens of civilians, including women and children, in conflicts between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The Israeli military deployed artillery shells containing white phosphorous in densely populated areas of Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and 2009, causing scores of deaths and extensive burns.

It initially issued a categorical denial of reports of the use of white phosphorous, but later admitted it, saying the weapon was only used to create smokescreens.

Human Rights Watch said its use of the munitions in Operation Cast Lead was indiscriminate and evidence of war crimes.

In response to a legal challenge, the IDF said last year it would “avoid the use in built-up areas of artillery shells containing white phosphorus, with two narrow exceptions.”

The exceptions were not disclosed.


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