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 humanitarian law.
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.