HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND IMPUNITY IN GAZA
By : Heru Susetyo
Human Rights Lawyer for Indonesian Victims of Freedom Flotilla/
Chairman of Advisory Board
Indonesian Center for Law and Human Rights Advocacy (PAHAM)
Since the illegal inception of the state of Israel, Palestinians and the land of Palestine have been the subject of massive human rights violations committed by Israel. The ongoing conflict induced by Israeli occupation up to now (2011) have produced not only political crisis but also gross violation of human rights, grave breaches of humanitarian law and massive crimes against humanity.
Particularly in Gaza Strip. The blockade or siege of Gaza Strip since 2006 and subsequent actions conducted by Israel such as Operation Cast Lead 27 December 2008 – 18 January 2009 and interception of humanitarian aid Freedom Flotilla were constituted as human rights crimes and grave breaches of Geneva Convention 1949. According to Geneva Convention, civilians and combatants who were sick or being as Prisoners of War (POW) are clearly not military targets. Therefore, must be protected by the protecting powers.
The Interception of Freedom Flotilla 2010
Given an example of interception of humanitarian aid Freedom Flotilla on Monday May 31st 2010. The flotilla was right on the high sea of Mediterranean Sea around 73 miles off Gaza Coastline. This brutal attack killed eight Turkish and one Turkish-American and injured around fifty people on board of Mavi Marmara vessel (Including two Indonesians). Moreover, Israel subsequently confiscated private belongings of the victims and unilaterally confiscated all the vessels belonged to Flotilla.
The report of UN Human Rights Council International Fact-Finding Mission (September 2010) on this case concluded that the action of Israeli Defence Forces in intercepting the Mavi Marmara in the circumstances and for the reasons given on the high sea was clearly unlawful. The action cannot be justified in the circumstances even under article 51 of the UN Charter.
Furthermore, UN Human Rights Council mentioned that the conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel towards the flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totality unnecessary and incredible violence. It betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality. Such conduct cannot be justified or condoned on security or any other grounds. It constituted grave violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law.
On the interception of Freedom Flotilla, the Fact Finding Mission found clear evidence that following offences have been committed by Israeli Defence Forces :
- Wilful killing
- Torture or inhuman treatment
- Wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health.
- Unlawfully seized the property
The offences mentioned above are constituted violation to some rights enshrined in international human rights law as follows :
- Right to life (article 6 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights- ICCPR)
- Torture and other cruel ,inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (article 7 ICCPR and Convention Against Torture – CAT)
- Right to liberty and security of the person and freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention (article 9 ICCPR)
- Rights of detainees to be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person (article 10 ICCPR)
- Freedom of expression (article 9 ICCPR)
- Right to an effective remedy
The Blockade of Gaza
The blockade of Gaza Strip since 2006 is a clear violation of international human rights law. The Report of United Nations Fact Finding Mission on Gaza Conflict lead by Justice Richard Goldstone on 15 September 2009 mentioned that during the blockade, Gaza Strip were enormously suffered as follows :
- Suffered from economic an political isolation imposed by Israel on Gaza Strip
- Suffered from restriction on the goods that can be imported into Gaza and the closure of border crossings for people, goods and services. Sometimes for days.
- The cuts on the provision of fuel and electricity
- Gaza’s economy is severely affected by the reduction of the fishing zone open to Palestinian fishermen and the establishment of a ‘buffer zone’ along the border between Gaza and Israel which reduces the land availabe for agriculture and industrial activity.
- In addition to creating and emergency situation, the blockade significantly weakened the capacities of the population and of the health, water and other public sectors to react to the emergency created by the military operations.
Human Rights Violations During Operation Cast Lead
During the attack of Gaza Strip by Israeli Defence Force between 27 December 2008 – 18 January 2009, Palestinians who lost their life during the military operations were between 1387 – 1417 (source : NGO) and 1444 (source : Gaza Authorities). On the other hand, only 13 Israeli were killed. Ten soldiers and one civilian. Instead of taking lives, Justice Goldstone’s mission also noted that the IDF had committed some offences and war crimes as follows :
- Attacking government buildings, main prison and persons of Gaza authorities including police (six police stations destroyed and 99 police were killed)
- Indiscriminate attacks by Israeli forces resulting in the loss of life and injury to civilians
- The attack of Al Fakhoora Junction in Jabaliya next to UNRWA School (Children School)
- Deliberate attack against the civilian population
- The use of certain weapons : white phosporous, flechette missile and DIME (Dense Inert Metal Explosive)
- Attacks on the foundations of civilian life in Gaza : destruction of industrial infrastructure, food production, water installations, sewage treatment and housing
- The use of Palestinian civilians as human shields
- Deprivation of liberty : Gazan detained during the Operation Cast Lead
- Detention of Palestinians in Israeli Prisons; since the beginning of the occupation, approximately 700.000 Palestinian men, women and children have been detained by Israel. As at 1st June 2009, there were apporoximately 8100 Palestinian ‘political prisoners’ in detention in Israel, including 60 women and 390 children.
The gross violation of human rights committed by Israel to Palestinian and Palestine land since the inception of Israel in 1948 with three example mentioned above (Interception of Freedom Flotilla May 2010, blockade of Gaza since 2006 and Operation Cast Lead 27 Dec 2008 – 17 Jan 2009) are, unfortunately, seemed to be ignored by International Tribunal.
Hundreds of resolutions on Israeli-Palestine conflict have been issued by the UN, many UN Fact Finding Missions have worked to investigate the crimes committed by Israel (as well as by Palestine) and many condemnations have been made by states as well as international organizations. However, the show still go on. Israel still commits crime and violate many rights of Palestinians.
Sadly, international mechanism seemed to be unable to bring Israeli perpetrators to justice. Condemnations are made but still none of the perpetrators are brought to justice. Isreal is also not a state party to Rome State 1998 which establishing International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. New victims are victimized day by day but Israeli perpetrors are still untouchable.
Last example from Freedom Flotilla incident. Nine of Turkish have been brutally killed but none of the perpetrators were brought to justice. Not in Tel Aviv, not in Ankara or Istanbul (Turkey), not in The Hague or everywhere in the world. Not only trial, even the compensation and restitution for victims have not been made.
From this ASPAC Conference on Palestine 2011 I do expect that people in Asia Pacific will always support the justice and humanity in Palestine. Also to address all human rights violations occured in Palestine conflict by remembering them, not forgetting them and doing tireless campaign to end the injustice. More specifically, to always keep an eye and support all efforts to bring the Israeli Perpetrators to justice at all levels. Local, national, regional or international levels.
What we are doing for Palestine
Indonesian Center for Law and Human Rights Advocacy (PAHAM – Pusat Advokasi Hukum dan Hak Asasi Manusia Indonesia) as internatonal human rights advocacy NGO based in Indonesia and founded by young muslim activists and young muslim lawyers has always been striving to support the people of Palestine and to end the injustice in Palestine. The human rights NGO has, so far, doing campaign, fundraising, demonstration/ rally and joining international lawyers to defend the rights of people of Palestine and international activists who support the humanity in Palestine (on Freedom Flotilla case). Further, PAHAM activists have participated on Gaza Strip Site Visit in 2010 along with other Indonesian activists.
Contact : firstname.lastname@example.org or +62 (0)81310922211 (mobile)
Blog : http://herunuswanto.com