The FIDH wishes to convey to you its utmost concern about the escalation of the international humanitarian law and human rights violations in the OPT resulting from the « Operation Summer Rains » led by the the Israeli Defence Forces in the Gaza Strip. It calls upon you to intervene at the Security Council without delay.
The FIDH condemns the rocket firing of Palestinian armed groups against Israeli civilian population. However, the reaction by the Government of Israel results in a flagrant and serious violation of international humanitarian law. The operations of the Israeli Defence Forces constitute at the least war crimes, if not crimes against humanity, according to international criminal law. As acknowledged by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the OPT, these interventions are disproportionate.
According to information obtained by our member organization in Gaza, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, and following our inquiry mission sent to the OPT between June 25th and July 2th, 2006 , the FIDH draws the following conclusions:
Among the attacks perpetrated by the Israeli Army, the deliberate destruction of Gaza strip’s power station, of water supplying systems, of bridges, roads, offices of the Palestinian Authority and of other civilian infrastructures are a violation of Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. They constitute, at the very least, war crimes according to Article 8(2)(a)(iv) of the Rome Statute creating the International Criminal Court, the definition of which restates international customary law.
An important number of Palestinian civilians have been killed by bombings in the past weeks and months. 24 are said to have been killed in 24 hours between 6 and 7 July 2006. Since the incursion began in the Gaza Strip, 47 people have been killed and 120 injured. These executions constitute a grave violation of international humanitarian law according to Article 3 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and are considered, at the very least, war crimes according to Article 2(2)(a) of the Rome Statute.
Arbitrary arrests conducted by Israel of members of the Palestinian government, of the Palestinian Legislative Council elected according to an electoral process which the international community has confirmed to be fair and transparent, and of political leaders, are a direct threat to the very existence of Palestinian institutions, which have been set up as part of the implementation of the Oslo agreements between Israel and and the Palestine Liberation Organisation. They constitute, as recalled by the Special Rapporteur John Dugard  , an instance, of hostage taking specifically prohibited by Article 34 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Bombings of the Gaza strip and the flights conducted in Gaza airspace of high speed aircrafts constitute intimidation acts, violating Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The power station destroyed by the Israeli armed forces on June 28th insured the supplying in electricity of an area reaching to 43% of the total population of the Gaza strip. 700,000 individuals are affected by the power breakdowns. The water supplying system is also seriously disturbed, some pumps being now out of service. What’s more, after the closing of Karni and Rafah crosspoints, and the almost complete closing of the Erez crosspoint, food supplies, gas and combustible are lacking, and people can no longer seek healthcare in Egypt. The situation is particularly worrisome in hospitals and healthcare centers, where water supplies have became insufficient and where lack of combustible is preventing them from feeding their generators.
Because they directly targeted the civilian Palestinian population, the measures and attacks carried on and at the origin of this humanitarian crisis, constitute a collective punishment in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. They also place Israel in violation of the United Nations Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the applicability of which to the Occupied Palestinian Territory the International Court of Justice has affirmed in its Advisory Opinion of July 9th, 2004.
In parallel to this military operation, the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian population is dramatically worsening. After the elections of the Palestinian Legislative Council of January 25th, 2006, the Israeli government decided to cease the restitution of VAT taxes and customs duties which it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, in violation of its legal obligations under the 19 April 1994 Protocol on Economic Relations between the Government of the State of Israel and the P.L.O., representing the Palestinian people  The Western governments, as well as the Council of the European Union, have decided to interrupt their aid either to the government of the Palestinian Authority or passing through the government. These decisions have triggered a dramatic humanitarian crisis. In particularly, close to 41% of the Palestinian population has been deprived of ressources since January, as a result to the non-payment of civil servants’ wages. Many banks, taking precautionary measures under the fear of legal or political sanctions for having contacts with Designated Terrorist Organisations, have shut down accounts of Palestinian organizations and individuals. Banks operating in the OPT may soon find it impossible to continue functioning, whether or not they host accounts of the Palestinian Authority. The private sector is therefore profoundly affected by the economic sanctions directed against the PA. Some non-governmental organizations have stopped all activities. The financing plan proposed by the European Union and adopted by the Quartet is a step forward in the humanitarian support to the Palestinian population. Unfortunately, it does not guarantee the payement of salaries to the Palestinian public servants, notably in the education and health care departments. The interim funding mechanism proposed by the World Bank on May 7, 2006 would have enabled the payment of these salaries. Deplorably, the Quartet did not choose to provide so.
In regards to this situation, FIDH believes the United Nations Security Council has the obligation to intervene.
In virtue of Resolution 1674/2006 on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts, adopted on April 28, 2006, the Security Council recognizes that the "deliberate targeting of civilians and other protected persons, and the commission of systematic, flagrant and widespread violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in situations of armed conflict, may constitute a threat to international peace and security," and that it considered itself ready "to consider such situations and, where necessary, to adopt appropriate steps."
FIDH therefore calls upon to the French Presidency of the Security Council to urgently submit this situation to the Council’s agenda, and to the Security Council members to adopt a resolution providing :
The sending of an international interposition force granted with the mandate to put an end to the worsening of the humanitarian crisis by ensuring the supplying of food, water, medicine, fuel and electricity to the Palestinian population, and to ensure protection of the Palestinian civilian population;
Requesting the Palestinian armed groups to stop firing rockets at the Israeli civilian population;
Requesting the government of Israel, the occupying power, to respect international humanitarian law and human rights;and consequently to immediately put an end to « Operation Summer Rains » ;
Requesting the government of Israel to free unconditionally the officials, the members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the political leaders of Palestine;
Requesting the Quartet to review the mechanism of humanitarian aid aimed at the Palestinian population, following the World Bank propositions, and the Israeli government to stop withholding the taxes which are the property of the Palestinian Authority.
Requesting Israel to compensate the Palestinian Authority for the entirety of the damages suffered as a result of the measures and attacks.
Thanking your for your attention and prompt reaction,