Written statement submitted to the UN Human Rights Council, ninth special session by: Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Al-Haq, all the above are Members of HIC-HLRN and nongovernmental organizations in special consultative status with UN ECOSOC.*
For almost two weeks now, Israel has carried out military operations in the occupied Gaza Strip from the air, sea and land, killing hundreds and injuring thousands of Palestinian civilians. Many of the causalities are women and children with entire families among the dead. Thus, grave breaches of international humanitarian law, including the Hague Regulations (1907) and the Geneva Conventions (1949) that amount to war crimes have been committed by Israel in the occupied Gaza Strip.
These breaches include willful killing and the extensive destruction of houses and other civilian property not justified by military necessity and have been carried out unlawfully and wantonly.
In addition to the above, the already dire humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip is deteriorating further. It is becoming increasingly difficult for humanitarian relief personnel to reach and evacuate casualties and distribute aid. Almost a million and half a million Gazans, most of whom have been refugees since 1948, continue to remain without food, water or electricity, as they have since Israel imposed its current siege, which was tightened in June 2007 following Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, due to the widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure, including electricity, water, communication services and roads, hospitals are unable to provide adequate care to the high number of casualties. These actions amount to the collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza and endanger the very survival of civilians.
Moreover, Israel’s indiscriminate military attacks have led to unpreced