Israel must be held accountable to international law
23 October 2001

Joint Press Release: BADIL Resource Center, LAW - The Palestinian Society
for the Protection of Human Rights

Foreign Ministers urged to sponsor an international protection force for
the Occupied Palestinian Territories

Yesterday, a group of some ten Palestinian NGOs, human rights
organizations and institutions issued a joint letter urgently appealing
to various foreign ministers around the world for clarification of their
respective governments' positions regarding the violent Israeli military
incursions into multiple "A Areas."  The letter was addressed to: all
member states of the European Union, including current president,
Belgium; the G-8 states (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K.,
the U.S. and the Russian Federation); and key states in the non-aligned
movement.

The letter made several demands, including for an international
protection force for the occupied Palestinian territories as soon as
possible, for example under the auspices of the European Union, and for
the convening of the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva
Convention, to ensure that Israel applies that Convention "de jure" to
the OPTs.

Within the past 24-48 hours, an initiative directed at the UN Security
Council has been renewed to pass a resolution sponsoring a protection
force for the population of the occupied territories.  Yesterday's letter
to the foreign ministries adds important support to this Security Council
initiative.

Since early 18 October and continuing through today, Israel's savage
military assault upon six Palestinian "Area A" population centers has
shown a level of barbarity and utter disrespect for even the minimal
standards of international law that has characterized Ariel Sharon's
entire political and military career. The deliberate lethal targeting by
Israeli snipers of civilians in the street, in their schools, in grocery
stores, in their homes and in churches and mosques, the deliberate
shelling of hospitals and refugee camps, and the heartless refusal to let
a pregnant woman in labor proceed to hospital resulting in her death by
hemorrhaging at a military checkpoint, should remind the world, yet
again, that Ariel Sharon and his henchmen remain unredeemedly bent upon
the utter subjugation of the Palestinian people.

The true goals of Israel's political and military oligarchy are revealed
in episodes like this.  Since Israel has again reminded the world
community so blatantly of its complete lack of military self-control, it
is absolutely incumbent upon the international community to take
concerted action to reign in Israel's homicidal military juggernaut.

The joint letter stressed that Israel's incursions and attacks upon
Palestinian civilians violate international law for several reasons.
First, Israel's entire occupation is illegal, as has been recognized in
numerous UN resolutions.  Second, for as long as Israel persists in
maintaining its illegal occupation, it is bound to comply fully with
international humanitarian law, which categorically prohibits attacks
upon civilian areas and any form of collective punishment.
Additionally, the deliberate targeting of civilians constitutes "willful
killings" or "willfully causing serious injury," both of which are
classified as "war crimes" under the Rome Statute for the
International Criminal Court.

The letter was signed and endorsed by the following organizations: Al-
Mezan Center for Human Rights (Gaza); BADIL Resource Center for
Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights (Bethlehem); the Jerusalem
Center for Human Rights (Jerusalem); the Jerusalem Center for Social and
Economic Rights (Jerusalem); LAW -- The Palestinian Society for the
Protection of Human Rights and the Environment (Jerusalem); MIFTAH -- The
Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy
(Ramallah); Palestinian Center for Human Rights (Gaza); Palestinian
Independent Commission for Citizens' Rights (Gaza and Ramallah); the
Palestinian Women Women's Society for Development (Ramallah and Nablus).
____________________________

LAW - The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the
Environment is a non-governmental organisation dedicated to preserving
human rights through legal advocacy. LAW is affiliate to the
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the Federation Internationale
des Ligues de Droits de l'Homme (FIDH) and the World Organisation
Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).