Friday, January 16, 2009
All of Our Humanity Is At Stake
All Of Our Humanity Is At Stake
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) has documented death and destruction across the Gaza Strip throughout the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) ongoing military operation in the Gaza Strip. Since December 27, 2008, the IOF have killed at least 983 Palestinians in Gaza. 85% of the victims are civilians, and 35% of them are children. In addition, more than four thousand Palestinians in Gaza have been maimed and injured by IOF. Thousands of civilian objects, including homes and schools have been destroyed. The UN estimates that 35,500 civilians are now being housed in shelters it is providing for internally displaced civilians across the Gaza Strip.
As thousands of IOF surge into Gaza City amidst intense bombardment and shelling, hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians are now sheltering in homes, schools and other buildings, in fear for their lives. Reports indicate that the headquarters of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) compound in Gaza city has been shelled, that Al Quds Hospital in Gaza city, which is within the compound of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) is now on fire, and that IOF are also surrounding the Al Aqsa Hospital in Gaza city. However, PCHR staff are unable to verify these reports as they too are now sheltering in their homes, and homes of friends and relatives in fear for their lives.
IOF are also continuing to use incendiary bombs in densely populated residential areas across the Gaza Strip. These weapons, which have not been formally identified, are causing horrific injuries to civilians, including second and third deep burns, suffocation and severe eye pains. Doctors at the Burns Unit in Al-Shifa hospital have been forced to carry out amputations on patients who have been maimed by these bombs. PCHR is gravely concerned these bombs may contain white phosphorous.
PCHR have published numerous press releases detailing IOF war crimes throughout this military onslaught, and have repeatedly demanded the international community act immediately in order to stop the bloodshed in the Gaza Strip. As the civilian death toll continues to rise, the Centre reiterates its repeated demand for international responsibility, and action, in order to the ongoing atrocities being inflicted upon the 1.5 million civilians of the Gaza Strip.
International Humanitarian Law represents a bare minimum, a threshold which, in the interests of humanity, must not be crossed. It is apparent that IOF have systematically and repeatedly violated this humanitarian threshold, and in doing so are committing war crimes against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. The 194 High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions – virtually the entire international community – have a legal obligation to ensure respect for the Conventions in all circumstances. They have a further legal obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, and to bring them to justice; before their own courts if necessary.
The civilian population of the Gaza Strip is entitled to enjoy the rights enshrined in international human rights and humanitarian law. But all of their lives are now in danger because of the relentless IOF military campaign in the Gaza Strip. The international community must act immediately in order to save the lives of civilians in Gaza. All of our humanity is stake if the world continues to stand aside and bear witness to civilians being slaughtered by the IOF in Gaza.
1. Calls for an immediate halt to the IOF offensive against the population of the Gaza Strip.
2. Calls upon the international community, in the interests of internationalpeace and security, and in accordance with their obligations underinternational law, to end this IOF military offensive immediately
3. Holds Israel responsible for the lives of Palestinian civilians who areprotected, by international law, against the use of such excessive,disproportionate and indiscriminate force
4. Calls for the prosecution of all political and military officials whoare suspected of committing war crimes