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Press release

Falk: Israel’s Attacks on Gaza Illegal

GENEVA, December 30, 2008 (WAFA)

Wednesday 4 محرم 1430

All the versions of this article:

  • English

United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory Professor Richard Falk said that the Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip represent "severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war."

In his statement, Prof. Falk said that Israeli has committed multiple violations which include collective punishment; the entire 1.5 million people who live in the crowded Gaza Strip are being punished for the illegal actions of a few militants.

He added that Israel is targeting civilians; the air strikes were aimed at civilian areas in one of the most crowded stretches of land in the world, certainly the most densely populated area of the Middle East .

Falk explained that the Israeli military action in the strip is "disproportionate", the air strikes have not only destroyed security compounds, but have killed and injured hundreds of civilians. He specified that at least one strike reportedly hit groups of students attempting to find transportation home from the university.

Earlier Israeli actions, Falk continued, specifically the complete sealing off of entry and exit to and from the Gaza Strip, have led to severe shortages of medicine and fuel, as well as food, resulting in the inability of ambulances to respond to the injured, the inability of hospitals to adequately provide medicine or necessary equipment for the injured, and the inability of Gaza’s besieged doctors and other medical workers to sufficiently treat the victims.

Falk said that home-made rockets launched at Israeli are unlawful, but that illegality does not give rise to any Israeli right, neither as the Occupying Power nor as a sovereign state, to violate international humanitarian law and commit war crimes or crimes against humanity in its response. He noted that " Israel ’s escalating military assaults have not made Israeli civilians safer."

Falk finally reminded all member states of the United Nations that the UN continues to be bound to an independent obligation to protect any civilian population facing massive violations of international humanitarian law, regardless of what country may be responsible for those violations.

He called on all Member States , as well as officials and every relevant organ of the United Nations system, to move on an emergency basis not only to condemn Israel ’s serious violations, but to develop new approaches to providing real protection for the Palestinian people.

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