On 18 July 2004, the Israeli government voted in favor of a six-month extension to the “Nationality and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) – 2003.” In accordance with Article 5 of the law, the Israeli Knesset must approve an extension of the law. The Knesset did so on 21 July by a majority vote of 60 to 29.
UN Special Rapporteur Calls for Legal Actions Against Destruction of Palestinian Property, Disengagement from Gaza will Not End Israel’s Occupation
Excerpts from the Report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, John Dugard, on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, submitted in accordance with Commission resolution 1993/2 A,12 August 2004
According to UNRWA's records, from the beginning of the second intifada to 30 June 2004, a total of 2,272 shelters accommodating 4,072 families (21,453 persons) had been completely demolished or damaged beyond repair in the Gaza Strip during Israeli military activities. Of them, 1886 shelters accommodated 3338 refugee families (17,831 persons). Out of this group, 2,771 families (15,198 persons) were identified as being eligible for assistance under the Agency’s re-housing scheme. Of those already identified as eligible, 2,094 families (11,231 persons) are refugees residing in Rafah.
Following a recent visit to the 1967 occupied Palestinian territories, UN Special Rapporteur John Dugard called for legal action against persons responsible for the massive demolition of Palestinian homes.
“The Special Rapporteur visited Block "O", the Brazil Quarter and the Tel Es Sultan neighbourhood of Rafah in the wake of Operation Rainbow carried out by the IDF in May 2004 and met with families that had been rendered homeless in the exercise. In Operation Rainbow, 43 persons were killed, including 8 who were killed in a peaceful demonstration on 19 May. From 18 to 24 May, a total of 167 buildings were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable. These buildings housed 379 families (2,066 individuals). These demolitions occurred during one of the worst months in Rafah's recent history. During May, 298 buildings, housing 710 families (3,800 individuals), were demolished in Rafah. Since the start of the intifada in September 2000, 1,497 buildings have been demolished in Rafah, affecting over 15,000 people. The Special Rapporteur was appalled at the evidence of wanton destruction inflicted upon Rafah. The Special Rapporteur is mindful of article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which provides that any destruction by the occupying Power of personal property is prohibited except when such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations and that failure to comply with this prohibition constitutes a grave breach in terms of article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention requiring prosecution of the offenders. The time has come for the international community to identify those responsible for this savage destruction of property and to take the necessary legal action against them.” [Emphasis added]
Dugard also commented on Israel’s claim that disengagement from the Gaza Strip will end Israel’s 37 year occupation.
“Israel sees the political advantages in withdrawing from Gaza. In particular, it claims that it would no longer be categorized as an occupying Power in the territory subject to the Fourth Geneva Convention. In reality, however, Israel does not plan to relinquish its grasp on the Gaza Strip. It plans to maintain its authority by controlling Gaza's borders, territorial sea and airspace. That Israel intends to retain ultimate control over Gaza is clear from the Israeli disengagement plan of April 2004. This disengagement plan states in respect of Gaza, inter alia, that "The State of Israel will supervise and maintain the external land envelope, have exclusive control of the air space of Gaza and continue to carry out military activity in the Gaza Strip's maritime space. ... The State of Israel will continue to maintain a military presence along the border line between the Gaza Strip and Egypt (the Philadelphi route). This presence is a vital security need. In certain places a physical broadening of the area in which this military activity is carried out may be required." Another means of control that is being contemplated is the installation of high-tech listening devices in major buildings in the Gaza Strip in order to enable the Israeli authorities to monitor communications. This means that Israel will remain an occupying Power under international law. The test for application of the legal regime of occupation is not whether the occupying Power fails to exercise effective control over the territory, but whether it has the ability to exercise such power, a principle confirmed by the United States Military Tribunal in In re List and others (The Hostages Case) of 1948. It is essential that the international community take cognizance of the nature of Israel's proposed withdrawal and of its continuing obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
Report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, UN Doc. A/59/256, 12 August 2004.