[News] Palestine - PCHR Contests Distortion of Gaza Strip Death Toll
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Apr 2 11:55:23 EDT 2009
PCHR Contests Distortion of Gaza Strip Death Toll
01.04.09 - 21:06
Gaza City / PCHR - The Palestinian Centre for
Human Rights (PCHR) contest figures presented by
the Israeli Coordination and Liaison Authority
for the Gaza Strip which claim that 1,370
Palestinians were killed in the course of
Israels 23 day military offensive on the Gaza
Strip. The Israeli Coordination Authority claim
that 600 of the dead were combatants, and that
309 civilians were killed in the attack. They
have yet to classify 320 Palestinians.
PCHR regards this as a deliberately manipulative
attempt to distort the reality of the offensive,
and to disguise Israels illegal actions.
Following extensive investigation and
cross-checking, PCHR have determined that a total
of 1,417 Palestinians died in the offensive. 926
were civilians, including 313 children and 116
women. 255 were non-combatant police officers.
236 combatants were killed, representing 16.7% of the total deaths.
PCHRs findings are available in Arabic at
English version is currently in translation.
PCHR consider the IOFs classification of police
officers as combatants illegal: this
classification constitutes a willful violation of
the principle of distinction, a key component of
customary international law. Hamas is a
multi-faceted organization, exercising de facto
governmental control of the Gaza Strip. As an
organization, it cannot be considered an armed
group. Rather, a distinction must be made between
Hamas armed and political/civil components. The
Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades are the military
wing of the Hamas organization, they are an armed
group, and are considered as combatants according
to IHL. However, Hamas political and civil wings
are comprised of civilians, who are legally
entitled to the protections associated with this
status, provided they do not take an active part
in hostilities. Civil police, and governmental
officials cannot be considered combatants.
Attacks intentionally directed against these
individuals constitute willful killing, a grave
breach of the Geneva Conventions, and a violation
of customary international law.
The excessively disproportionate civilian death
toll, and Israels conduct of hostilities
including, inter alia, indiscriminate attacks,
wilful killing, the extensive destruction of
property, target selection, the lack of
precautions taken in attack, the excessive use of
force, and the use of weapons such as white
phosphorous in civilian areas demand effective
judicial redress. Many of the cases documented by
PCHR constitute grave breaches of the Geneva
Conventions, and war crimes. The widespread and
apparently systematic violations of customary IHL
witnessed in the Gaza Strip may also amount to a crime against humanity.
PCHR call on all States to fulfill their legal
obligations, as codified in Article 146 of the
Fourth Geneva Convention, to prosecute any
persons suspected of committing grave breaches of
the Geneva Conventions. All States must enact
appropriate legislation to ensure that such
persons may be tried in national courts, in
accordance with the principle of universal jurisdiction.
While strongly condemning the actions of the IOF
during their offensive on the Gaza Strip, PCHR:
1. Calls for establishing effective international
investigation into crimes committed by IOF
against Palestinian civilians, and Israels conduct of hostilities.
2. Calls for the prosecution of all political and
military officials who are accused of committing
war crimes against Palestinian civilians.
3. Calls for an end to all measures of collective
punishment inflicted on the population of the
Gaza Strip, including a lifting of the siege, and
ensuring the free and safe movement of persons and goods.
4. Calls upon Israel to fulfill its obligations
as the Occupying Power to facilitate unrestricted
humanitarian access, and to provide those
articles necessary to ensure the safety and well
being of the civilian population.
5. Calls upon the international community to
immediately intervene to prevent impunity for
such crimes, and calls upon the High Contracting
Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfill
their obligation under Article 1 of the
Convention to ensure respect for the Convention
in all circumstances, as well as their obligation
under Article 146 of the Fourth Geneva Convention
to search for and prosecute those who are
responsible for perpetrating grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.
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