Ensuring respect of international law to prepare for peace

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) are severely distressed by the escalation of the international humanitarian law and human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and strongly condemn the wide scale aerial offensive by the Israeli Defence Forces in the Gaza Strip which started on December 27th, 2008 and killed almost 300 Palestinians injuring almost 400 more. The events of December 27th makes it the single deadliest day in the Gaza strip since the occupation in 1967.

The air strikes have targeted dozens of police headquarters and stations, public and governmental buildings and security sites throughout the Gaza Strip. An important number of Palestinian civilians have been killed by bombings, many of the police stations located in civilian population centres and the time of the attacks coinciding with the end of the school day resulting in the deaths of a number of children. 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 8 of the Rome Statute. 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.

The ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip which led over the past months to an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, has left medical facilities in the Strip incapable of meeting the needs of the hundreds more who have been injured. Such a situation will likely lead to an increase in the number of deaths.

FIDH and EMHRN along with the Palestinian human rights community reiterate their urgent calls to the international community which despite these calls has failed to act until now, to immediately intervene to stop such unprecedented deterioration in the human rights situation and humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip. EMHRN and FIDH call in particular upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, to fulfill their obligations under the Convention without delay and to ensure protection for Palestinian civilians in the OPT.

Moreover EMHRN and FIDH call for an urgent session of the UN Security council to adopt effective measures to ensure respect and implementation by Israël of its international obligations under humanitarian and human rights law.

FIDH and EMHRN call upon States and international organizations to provide urgent humanitarian and medical assistance to the Gaza Strip, which has been under a tightened siege impacting all aspects of lives, especially health conditions, as hospitals in the Gaza Strip are unable to treat such high number of casualties.

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