Gaza: Israel’s flagrant violations of int’l law | By Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

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Gaza: Israel’s flagrant violations of int’l law

AS usually, the Israeli security forces, in flagrant violation of international law, have launched a ruthless offensive in the Gaza Strip, causing numerous casualties of innocent Palestinians.

Sadly, the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip since Friday caused 47 casualties, apart from wounding more than 360 people.

Despite the ceasefire on late Sunday after three days of violence, Israeli security forces are still breaching the peace terms.

The occupation warplanes carried out several missile raids on separate regions of the Gaza Strip, flattening several homes.

The Arab Parliament, the legislative body of the Arab League, has condemned the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, in a statement— published on Saturday— blamed the Israeli occupation authorities for the consequences of “dangerous escalation against the Palestinian people”, and their bombing of civilian targets in the Gaza Strip with aircraft— accused Israel of “flagrant defiance of international law and a violation of the Charter of the United Nations, conventions, treaties and international principles and a violation of all resolutions of international legitimacy and human rights principles.

While launching air strikes, Israel said its targets included an Islamic Jihad movement PIJ tunnel network, there have been continued arrest raids in the occupied West Bank.

Dozens of members of PIJ have been detained, according to Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said Sunday the military operation in the Gaza Strip will continue “as long as necessary.

” Meanwhile, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said the Israeli army and Shin Bet internal security service will continue to act against the Islamic Jihad group until removing what he said were threats to Israelis.

In recent years, thousands of Palestinians have been injured and many killed as a result of violence at Al-Aqsa mosque and Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

Despite Israel’s agreeing to a ceasefire, human rights violations against the Palestinian people continue.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has found that Israel has been committing two crimes against humanity: apartheid and persecution.

The State of Israel has violated many international laws, including United Nations Resolutions and the Laws of War and Occupation as stated in the Fourth Geneva Convention.

International criminal law has developed two crimes against humanity for situations of systematic discrimination and repression: apartheid and persecution.

Crimes against humanity stand among the most odious crimes in international law. The international community has over the years detached the term apartheid from its original South African context, developed a universal legal prohibition against its practice, and recognized it as a crime against humanity with definitions provided in the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (“Apartheid Convention”) and the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

To implement the goal of domination, the Israeli government institutionally discriminates against Palestinians.

The HRW report published in April 2021 confirms that according to these instruments, the crime of apartheid consists of three key elements: intent to maintain a system of domination by one racial group over another, systematic oppression by one racial group over another, and one or more inhumane acts as part of that oppression.

According to the report, some of these include, subjecting Palestinians to “sweeping restrictions on movement” and the confiscation of land in the West Bank.

According to an ILRC article,’ Israel’s society-wide system of discrimination and isolation of the Palestinian people within Israel, and its system of exploitation, oppression and isolation in the occupied territories, fits exactly the official, legal UN definition of apartheid which is considered to be a crime against humanity.

The practice of passing laws which give special favour throughout Israeli society to the Jewish people over all other people, and especially the native Palestinian Arab people, embodies the UN definition of apartheid, which is giving special favour to one group of people above all other groups based on criteria like what religion they are’’.

Last year, the UN accused Israel of flagrantly violating international law by expanding settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, urging the country’s new government to halt their enlargement immediately.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UN Mideast envoy Tor Wennesland reported on the implementation of a 2016 Security Council resolution that declared settlements have “no legal validity”.

The global body demanded a halt to the settlement expansion which jeopardises the possibility of a future Palestinian State.

Notably, the international human rights law and international humanitarian law are applicable in times of armed conflict, including situations of belligerent occupation.

The Israeli offensive in Gaza last year as well as the current actions clearly reflects an ipso facto violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

This intense focus on such legal issues has a recent echo. Similar incidents from the previous major Israel-Gaza round of hostilities, in 2014, form part of the ongoing investigation by the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) office of the prosecutor which previously found that there is a reasonable basis to believe that members of the Israel Defence Forces committed war crimes including intentionally launching disproportionate attacks.

Israel’s attacks on buildings which it argues are rendered legitimate military targets either because of their use by Hamas or by the presence of Hamas officials, violate the principle of proportionality under IHL.

According to this principle, an attack is illegal if it is expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated (Additional Protocol 1 to the Geneva Conventions, (AP1), Article 51(5)(b) and 57(2)(a)).

The Muslim world, at large, condemns the Israeli aggression on Gaza. It is an irony that despite the Israeli disregard of international law, the western community, including the US, the EU fail —to pressurize Israel to halt its aggressive designs against the Palestinians—which is tantamount to demonstrating a double standard.

As for the Israeli intransigence, the fact remains that despite manifold UN’s resolutions, as well as the condemnations levelled by the OIC and the Arab League, including the voices raised by numerous Human Rights Organisations, Israel is yet unmoved—a clear display of its draconian rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-international law analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law.

 

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