PCHR Calls for Special Session of the Human Rights Council: Violations of International Law in the Gaza Strip Must End
The Palestinian Centre for Human
Rights (PCHR) calls upon the international community to urgently convene a
Special Session of the Human Rights Council in order to address the escalating
situation in the Gaza Strip. The intensification of hostilities following the
14 November 2012 killing of Ahmed Al-Jabari has resulted in widespread death
and destruction, and concrete evidence indicating the commission of war crimes.
As of 12 o’clock midday on 15 November, there have been 4 confirmed civilian
casualties, including 2 children and 1 woman, and 115 injuries, including 26
children and 25 women. However, fieldworkers are continuing to investigate both
previous and ongoing attacks, and these figures are expected to increase.
It is imperative that the
international community intervene in order to restore the rule of law, and to
prevent further harm to civilians. PCHR reminds the international community
that all States are subject to a binding legal obligation to ‘ensure respect’
for international humanitarian law in all circumstances, and that civilians are
recognised as ‘protected persons’ under international humanitarian law.
The failure of the United Nations
Security Council to reach consensus on a resolution regarding the current
situation highlights the necessity of the Human Rights Council’s urgent
intervention. PCHR highlights Israeli statements which have indicated that the
current attacks may mark ‘the start of a broader operation’.
PCHR notes that the failure of the
international community to ensure accountability for violations of
international law committed in the occupied Palestinian territory has resulted
in pervasive impunity, and increasing disregard for the rule of international
law. PCHR believes that this failure to ensure accountability has facilitated
the current situation. It is imperative that the international community ensure
accountability, in order to prevent further tragedy.
It is noted that, under Article 146
of the Fourth Geneva Convention, all States are under the obligation to search
for and prosecute all those suspected of committing, or ordering the commission
of, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, regardless of their nationality
or the place of commission of the crime.
PCHR repeats their request for the
urgent convening of a Special Session of the Human Rights Council, and calls
upon all parties to fulfil their binding legal obligations under international
PCHR calls upon the High Contracting
Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to convene and act to protect civilians
in light of the seriousness of the ongoing escalation.
Finally, PCHR reminds the
international community of the last assault on the Gaza Strip, in which
civilians bore the brunt of political inaction during a large scale military
offensive. We should not wait for the same atrocities to be committed again.