BADIL Special Report: Israel's March-April Military Campaign in the 1967 Occupied Palestinian Territories and the Destruction of the Oslo Framework, International Law, Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, and a Comprehensive and Durable Solution

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BADIL Resource Center, 15 April 2002 (22 pages)
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Executive Summary

Israel's pervasive disregard for international humanitarian and human rights law reached a dramatic peak in March and April 2002 in the context of two massive military assaults (Operations "The Colors Journey" and "Defensive
Wall") launched by Israel to crush the al-Aqsa intifada. In the six weeks between March and mid-April 2002 Israeli military forces have killed more than 400 Palestinians comprising 30 percent of the total number of Palestinians killed by Israeli military forces and settlers since the beginning of the al-Aqsa intifada in September 2000. Israel's violations of international humanitarian and human rights law include war crimes and crimes against humanity as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (UN Doc. A/Conf.183/9, 1998). The UN
Commission on Human Rights has considered Israel's continued "grave breaches" of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention as rising to the level of war crimes since 1972 and recently reaffirmed this view during a Special Session of the Commission in October 2000.

War crimes committed during Israel's military assaults in March and April 2002 include:

* Willful killing or killing or wounding a combatant who, having laid down his arms or having no longer means of defence, has surrendered at discretion;
* Extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly;
* The use of protected persons as human shields;
* Intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated;
* Attacking or bombarding, by whatever means, towns, villages, dwellings or buildings which are undefended and which are not military objectives;
* Committing outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;
* Intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not military objectives; and,
* Pillage.

Crimes against humanity may include:

* Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law;
* Persecution - i.e., the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason of the identity of the group or collectivity - against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender ..., or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law;
* The crime of apartheid defined as inhumane acts committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.

Moreover, Israel's systematic violations and grave breaches of international law constitute a form of state terrorism. Terrorism, at its roots is the systematic use of violence to coerce or intimidate a population or government into
accepting certain political demands or program. Following the beginning of Israel's most recent military assaults - i.e., Operations "The Colors Journey" and "Defensive Wall") in the 1967 occupied Palestinian territories Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon stated:

"It won't be possible to reach an agreement with [the Palestinians] before the Palestinians are hit hard. Now they have to be hit. If they aren't badly beaten, there won't be any negotiations. Only after they are beaten will we
be able to conduct talks." (Ha'aretz, 5 March 2002)

Section II of the Report provides an overview of Israel's violations of fundamental human rights and humanitarian norms during Operation "Defensive Wall" in April 2002 as documented by local and international human rights
organizations and humanitarian agencies: attacks on civilian population ("Protected Persons"), destruction of property, extra-judicial killings, detention and torture, use of "human shields," collective punishment, and denial of
humanitarian access.

Israel's pervasive lack of respect for fundamental human rights and humanitarian norms is joined by a chronic lack of international protection for these basic rights and norms. US-led international efforts to find a formula that will bring an end to the 'cycle of violence' and facilitate a return to political negotiations ("Mitchell-Tenet-Zinni process") have failed. The Mitchell fact-finding committee recommendations and the Tenet cease-fire plan did not include a single reference to international law and the protection of fundamental human rights and humanitarian norms.

An increasing number of international expert teams, as well as western and Arab diplomats have begun to suggest that the unsuccessful "bottom-up" approach leading from a cease-fire through confidence building to bilateral
negotiations should be abandoned and replaced by a new and internationally backed "top-down" approach. The latter is a new formula which, based on the conclusion that the two parties are unable to resolve the conflict bilaterally, calls upon the international community to lay out a comprehensive peace plan (along the lines
of the Saudi proposal), and to impose it on the parties by means of upgraded international involvement, including the possibility of some form of international monitoring/peace keeping force. This new formula currently under debate has yet to demonstrate a serious commitment to international law and relevant UN resolutions. free porn on

The durability of any future political process between Israel and the PLO will depend, in large part, upon the willingness and effectiveness of the international community to uphold international law and fulfill its obligations in
full as set forth in 1945 Charter of the United Nations. Regardless of whether a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is negotiated between the parties or imposed by the international community, the terms of a solution
must be fully consistent with international law and UN resolutions.

Section III of the Report includes the following recommendations and agenda for action:

1. The international community must immediately put in place effective mechanisms to ensure the immediate cessation of all violations of fundamental human rights and humanitarian norms; the immediate implementation of recommendations of UN human rights organs, General Assembly and Security Council resolutions; long-term protection of fundamental human rights and humanitarian norms; that all peace agreements are fully consistent with international law and UN resolutions; and, an end to impunity.

2. There must be an independent investigation of the United Nations and individual member states concerning the
serious and protracted deficiency in international intervention to suppress "acts of aggression or other breaches of peace" and ensure protection of the fundamental human rights of civilians in the 1967 occupied Palestinian territories and respect for humanitarian norms.

3. An agenda for action must also include a strong popular component similar to the anti- apartheid movement to pressure members of the international community to adopt policies and measures that promote and uphold fundamental human rights and humanitarian norms as the foundation for a comprehensive, just and durable
solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.