News Bulletin 170
December 30, 2008
Israeli and Palestinian Civil Society Condemns Israeli “War Crimes” in Gaza
December 30, 2008, Jerusalem: Human rights groups in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories are calling for international sanctions against Israel following deadly bombing raids that have killed more than 375 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
A statement by the Alternative Information Center (AIC), a joint Israeli-Palestinian organization based in Jerusalem and the West Bank, described the Israeli attacks as “blatant war crimes” and called for the indictment of Israel’s leaders, including Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak. The AIC is a partner of The Advocacy Project (AP).
“Israel’s military attack on the Gaza Strip is not, as Israel is attempting to claim today, retaliation against Gazan resistance to the Israeli occupation and ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip, but part of a publicly admitted political goal of eliminating the Hamas government in Gaza,” said AIC Executive Director Connie Hackbarth.
“Israel is exploiting the last moments of the Bush administration to implement the deadly but ineffective neoconservative policies of utilizing military force to effect political change.”
Israeli warplanes bombed Gaza for the fourth straight day today. Medical facilities in Gaza, already facing shortages, cannot cope with the growing number of casualties.
In many places, there is no running water or electricity, and food is becoming scarce. The Gaza branch coordinator for the Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center (DWRC), an AP partner, reported to colleagues in Ramallah that more than 20 people have crowded into his apartment in an effort to keep safe from missiles.
“I have never experienced a situation like this,” he said. “Every time the Israeli warplanes bomb a target in our area, we tell the youngest children that the explosions are firecrackers or fireworks, in an attempt to diminish their fears… Since the start of the operation, we have no electricity and now we have no water anymore.”
Palestinian groups have called for an immediate end to Israel’s attacks on Gaza and urged the international community to intervene. The DWRC issued a call for solidarity with the people of Gaza and appealed to trade unions worldwide to protest.
Demonstrations against the Israeli attacks have occurred throughout the West Bank, and 2,000 protesters attended a joint Palestinian-Israeli demonstration in Tel Aviv on Saturday. The AIC has planned a candlelight vigil for the victims of Gaza tonight in Beit Sahour, a suburb of Bethlehem.
According to the AIC, many of the deaths occurred after Israeli planes targeted Palestinian police in civilian population centers in Gaza. The attacks also coincided with the end of the school day, resulting in the deaths of numerous children. Willful killings are a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention under Article 147 and therefore, a war crime.
Palestinian human rights groups are urging the United Nations Security Council to call an emergency session and demand that Israel respect international humanitarian law. The groups are asking parties to the Geneva Conventions to hold Israel accountable, especially with regard to protecting civilians.
According to the AIC, Israel first violated the Gaza ceasefire in early November, by killing six Palestinians and wounding four. In addition, Israel has kept Gaza’s 1.5 million residents essentially under siege since June 2007, when the Palestinian faction Hamas took control of the government in Gaza.
Israel has routinely closed Gaza’s borders to the passage of people and essential goods, creating a major humanitarian crisis. Most Gazans are now dependent on food assistance. Fuel shortages disrupt running water and electricity, and hospitals lack lifesaving medicines.
● Read AIC’s coverage of the Gaza crisis
● Read the DWRC’s account from civilians in Gaza
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