Beit Hanoun : FIDH calls for an international commission of investigation and for an extraordinary Assembly of the States parties to the Geneva Conventions

Press release
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The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) condemns the shelling by the Israeli army of a residential area of Beit Hanoun in the North of the Gaza Strip that killed 19 Palestinian people, who were mostly asleep in their beds, including 7 children and 6 women according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, FIDH member organization in Gaza.

This attack, perpetrated on 8 November 2006, comes at the end of a week of massive, disproportionate Israeli forces attacks in Beit Hanoun, taking the total number of Palestinians killed to 77 since the beginning of the Israeli operation. FIDH considers such acts constitute grave, flagrant and massive breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

The 8 November attack took place following the withdrawal of the Israeli army from Beit Hanoun. This can clearly be interpreted as an act of retaliation by the Israeli army against the people of Beit Hanoun who had resisted so strongly over the last week, particularly the act of defiance of the women of Beit Hanoun last weekend when they showed, even without using violence, the impotence of the occupation by refusing to allow the Israeli army to dictate their movement.

The Israeli army has apparently initiated an internal investigation by Major General Meir Kalifi; this investigation is not credible. The Israeli military have an appalling track record of conducting their own investigations into their own acts and Palestinians are right to fear a white wash, as happened last June when in spite of the "overwhelming evidence including ballistic evidence", the Israeli military, following an internal investigation, claimed that the shell which landed on the beach to the North of Gaza City killing a family of eight at a picnic had not been fired by them.

Moreover, FIDH recalls that, in the course of their internal investigations, the Israeli military do not meet with Palestinian victims and witnesses in order to get a full understanding of what happened.

Finally, FIDH notes that the attack on Beit Hanoun took place in a time of major escalation both militarily and in terms of the rhetoric deployed following perceived failings of the Israeli army and the inclusion in the government of a racist new deputy prime minister and minister of strategic threats, Avigdor Lieberman.

Therefore, FIDH joins and supports PCHR’s call for the United Nations Security Council to convene an emergency session in order to look into the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and to send an international independent commission to carry out a full investigation into the crimes perpetrated by the Israeli army in Beit Hanoun since the beginning of their operations.

Also FIDH supports PCHR’s call for an emergency session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Geneva Conventions to be convened by the Swiss government.

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