Ref: 145/2011


 

Today
marks the third anniversary of the commencement of Operation Cast Lead,
Israel’s 27 December 2008 – 18 January 2009 offensive on the Gaza Strip. 27
December also marks the anniversary of the single bloodiest day in the history
of the occupation; on this day three years ago 334 Palestinians were killed by
Israeli forces, 76.6% of whom were civilian.

 

In
total, 1,419 Palestinians were killed during Operation Cast Lead, 1,167 (82.2%)
of whom were civilians. A further 5,300 were injured. Israeli forces directly
targeted and attacked private homes and civilian institutions, including
hospitals and schools. Exacerbating the effects of the continuing illegal
closure, the offensive had a devastating impact on the overall economy of the
Gaza Strip. Civilian workshops and factories were directly targeted and
agricultural land was razed, destroying farms, fields and irrigation systems
that formed the basis of farmers
ʹ livelihoods. As reconstruction is virtually impossible due to the
illegal closure, the hardship brought about by this destruction has only
increased in the last three years.

 

To
mark the anniversary of the attacks, and to highlight the continuing lack of
justice, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) will release a series
of narratives
, documenting the experiences of victims in the three years since the
offensive. The story of the Al Ashi family is released today. This series is
also accompanied by a factsheet providing an overview of the flaws inherent in
the Israeli justice system and the criminal complaints submitted to the Israeli
authorities on behalf of victims of Operation Cast Lead. Further information is
available in Genuinely Unwilling: An Update.

 

PCHR
believes that Israeli forces committed serious violations of IHL and IHRL over
the course of the offensive. Violations entailing individual criminal
responsibility include – but are not limited to – the crimes of wilful killing,
the extensive destruction of civilian property, the direct targeting of civilians
and civilian objects, the use of human shields, and the launching of
indiscriminate attacks.

 

PCHR
has submitted 490 criminal complaints to the Israeli authorities, on behalf of
1,046 victims of Operation Cast Lead. To-date, only two substantive replies
have been received. The overwhelming majority of complaints have been simply
ignored.

 

It
is evident that these crimes demand judicial redress. If the law is to be
respected – if it is to prove capable of protecting civilian populations – it
must be enforced; victims’ rights to the equal protection of the law and
effective judicial remedy must be upheld. Those responsible for committing such
crimes must be investigated, tried and prosecuted in accordance with
international standards.

 

If
the occupation has taught us anything it is that as long as Israel is granted
impunity, it will continue to violate international law, Palestinian civilians
will continue to suffer the horrific consequences.

 

In
light of the clear and unequivocal failure of domestic justice systems, it is
clear that recourse must be had to mechanisms of international criminal
justice. PCHR call upon the UN Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of
the UN Charter, to refer the situation in Israel and Palestine to the
International Criminal Court. PCHR also reminds States, as High Contracting
Parties to the Geneva Conventions, of their pressing legal obligation, to
search for and prosecute all those suspected of committing war crimes,
regardless of their nationality.


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The Narratives:

18 January 2009: The Abu Rujailah family

– 17 January 2009 – The Al Ashqar Family 

 16
January 2009 – The Shurrab Family

15 January 2009: The al-Nadeem family

– 14 January 2009 – Muhammed
Mousa

– 13 January 2009: Hibba
al-Najjar

– 12 January 2009 – The Ayad Family

11 January 2009: The Hamouda Family

10 January 2009: Wafa al-Radea

 9 January 2009 – The Abu Oda Family

 8 January 2009: The Al-Rahel family

 7 January 2009 – The Mattar Family

– 6 January
2009: Al-Dayah family

5 January 2009: Amal al-Samouni

– 4 January 2009: The Abdel Dayem Family

3 January 2009: Motee’ and Isma’il as-Selawy

– 2 January 2009: Eyad al-Astal

– 1 January 2009: The Nasla Family

 31 December 2008: The Abu Areeda family

– 30 December 2008: The Hamdan Family

29 December 2008: Balousha Family

 28 December 2008: The Abu Taima family

– 27 December 2008: The Al Ashi Family.