Ref: 157/2012

Four years ago today,
on 27
th December 2008, Israeli Forces launched a large-scale
offensive against the Gaza Strip, code named Operation Cast Lead. This 23-day long
offensive was the most violent offensive since the beginning of Israeli
occupation in 1967.

1167 Palestinian
civilians, the so-called “protected persons” of International Humanitarian Law,
were killed during this offensive, including 318 children and 111 women.
Moreover, 5,300 Palestinians were wounded, of whom 1,600 were children. In
addition, 2,114 houses (2,864 housing units) in the Gaza Strip were completely
destroyed while 3,242 houses (5,014 housing units) were rendered uninhabitable,
making approximately 50,000 Palestinians homeless. Public and private
infrastructure throughout the Gaza Strip was systematically targeted and
destroyed.
Numerous investigations and reports by
national and international human rights organization sprovided compelling
evidence indicating the widespread and systematic violation of international law


Four years later the
Gaza Strip remains subject to an illegal closure regime, making reconstruction
and rehabilitation virtually impossible. The Gaza Strip has been stuck in a
time warp, and its civilian population subject to collective punishment.


As
confirmed by national and international human rights organizations and the UN
Committee of Independent Experts established by the Human Rights Council, it is
unambiguously clear that all parties have failed to conduct domestic
investigations that are prompt, effective, independent, and in conformity with
international law. Furthermore, all parties have failed to prosecute suspected
perpetrators of crimes under international law.
According to the UN
Committee of Independent Experts’ report published on 18th March
2011, all parties’ investigations into alleged war crimes have comprehensively
failed to meet the requirements of international standards.
The Committee found that Israel failed to
investigate high-level officials and cover all allegations. It
is noted
the only concrete result of these
procedures have
been a 7 month sentence for the theft of a credit card, a 45 day
sentence in relation to the killing of two women carrying white flags, and two
3 month suspended sentences for the use of a Palestinian child as a human
shield. 


The
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) submitted 1,046 civil complaints(or
“damage applications”) to the Compensation Officer in the Israeli Ministry of
Defense,and approximately 490 criminal complaints (on behalf of 1,046 affected
individuals) requesting the opening of an investigation to the Israeli Military
Prosecution. However, to date, only ahandful of responses denoting the opening
of an investigation, or simply acknowledging receipt of the complaint, have been
received; media sources have reported that other complaints filed by PCHR have
been closed, but this has not been officially communicated.


The Palestinian Centre
for Human Rights (PCHR) affirms that all victims’ legitimate right to an
effective remedy must be respected. For too long, the situation in Israel and
the occupied Palestinian territory has been characterised by systematic
violations of international law, and pervasive impunity for these crimes. The
result has been an escalating cycle of violence, and it is the civilian
populations who have been forced to pay the horrific price.
All efforts must be undertaken to ensure
justice for all victims.


It is essential that
the rule of law be restored, and that all suspected violations of international
law be investigated, and those responsible held to account.


PCHR:

1- Calls upon the State of Palestine to immediately sign and
ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and to lodge a
declaration with the Court’s Registrar under Article 11 (2) and 12 (3) of the
Statute, accepting the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court from the date of
entry into force of the Statute, 1 July 2002.

2- Following the accession
of Palestine to the Rome Statute, recommends that
the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court
should initiate an investigation propriomotu in to alleged war crimes
and crimes against humanity which are committed in Palestine in violation of the
Statute, and request an authorization of the Pre-Trial Chamber to proceed with
an investigation, pursuant to article 15 of the Statute.

3- Calls upon the international community to
support the efforts of the Palestinian people to seek justice for the violations
of international humanitarian law and international human rights law through
use of the principle of universal jurisdiction.