by: Christina Ryerson
A United Nations Fact Finding mission into the Israeli occupation of the West Bank released their findings the other day, citing numerous violations of international law by Israeli forces and recommending a complete cessation of settlements in the West Bank territories and Jerusalem.
“In compliance with Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention Israel must cease all settlement activities without preconditions,” said Christine Chanet, chair of the Mission from France. “We are today calling on the government of Israel to ensure full accountability for all violations, put an end to the policy of impunity and to ensure justice for all victims,” added Asma Jahangir, a member of the mission from Pakistan.
The fact finding mission, mandated by the Human Rights Council and led by Chanet, cited numerous occasions where Israeli’s were in violation of various international treaties with regard to human rights and humanitarian law to which they are party.
According to the missions report, the Israeli government, as the occupying force in the West Bank and Jerusalem, has a duty to protect the rights of the people under their control. “Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Palestinians living under occupation are “protected persons”, and thus the focus of Israel’s obligations under humanitarian law,” stated the report. This position has been affirmed and reaffirmed by the International Court of Justice, the Commission on Human Rights, the Human Rights Council, the Security Council and the General Assembly.
The Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is High Contracting Party, governs military occupations and the treatment of civilian populations in occupied territories. It covers things such as allowing the establishment of hospitals and safety zones in occupied areas, the transfer of the occupying force’s population to the occupied territories, and the protection of the personal property of the occupied people.
According to the report issued by the fact finding mission, there are seven treaties Israel is party to that they are violating including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child to name a few.
In addition, the report cited evidence of government support of the settlement expansions through various secret channels in the budget and other quasi-governmental organizations such as the World Zionist Organization, and through the confiscation of Palestinian lands under the guise of needing the land for “military needs”, declaring the land “State Land” for the public good and allowing the land to then be settled by Israelis.
“These violations are all interrelated, forming part of an overall pattern of breaches that are characterized principally by the denial of the right to self-determination and systemic discrimination against the Palestinian people which occur on a daily basis,” according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“The magnitude of violations relating to Israel’s policies of dispossessions, evictions, demolitions and displacements from land shows the widespread nature of these breaches of human rights. The motivation behind violence and intimidation against the Palestinians and their properties is to drive the local populations away from their lands, allowing the settlements to expand,” said Unity Dow, a member of the Mission from Botswana.