AL-HAQ PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
15 March 2006
Al-Haq condemns yesterday‘s attacks by the Israeli authorities on the Palestinian National Authority‘s detention centre in Jericho. The Israeli military besieged and fired upon the facility in an effort to capture a number of detainees who had been held at the facility since 2002, notably Ahmad Sa‘adat, Fuad Shubaki, and four other men who were wanted by Israel. In accordance with the terms of the Ramallah Agreement, undertaken by Israel, the PNA, the United Kingdom and the United States, the detention of the six men was directly supervised by British and American monitors.
As Al-Haq emphasised in its interventions to British and American diplomatic representatives in East Jerusalem yesterday, Israeli occupying forces committed breaches of international humanitarian law during the attack on the detention centre, and threatened to commit further grave breaches thereof. Detainees and those that are hors de combat by virtue of having laid down their arms are protected persons and cannot be deemed a legitimate military target. Israeli forces shelled the detention centre and threatened to commit attacks against those inside if they did not surrender; if carried out, such actions would have constituted wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, or wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health of a protected person. At least two people, including a detainee, were killed in the attacks, and more injured. The exact number of those killed remains unknown, as the Israeli authorities have neither released the bodies nor notified the families or the PNA.
Under Common Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Conventions, all High Contracting Parties are under the obligation to respect and ensure respect of the Convention. By deliberately taking action that could foreseeably result in serious violations of the Convention, the UK and US, both of which are High Contracting Parties, have conspicuously failed to uphold this obligation.
Since the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000, Israeli authorities have systematically damaged and destroyed the PNA infrastructure necessary for the administration of justice. Yesterday‘s attack was another example of this practice, resulting not merely in the destruction of public property, but of a facility that was necessary in order to uphold the rule of law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Furthermore, the Israeli authorities released a number of detainees who had been lawfully sentenced by the Palestinian courts, further undermining the administration of justice in the region.
Al-Haq is also gravely concerned that removing the detention facility monitors by the UK and US governments will have consequences beyond the actions of the Israeli military in Jericho yesterday. Yesterday‘s events, precipitated by the removal of the monitors, further contribute to the severe deterioration of the human rights situation on the ground in the OPT.
Israel‘s violations reflect a substantial escalation in its disregard for its obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law. The withdrawal of the American and British monitors, despite the foreseeable consequences, and the inaction of the international community generally, have only served to enable the Israeli authorities to carry out such breaches. With a clear voice, the international community must soundly condemn Israel‘s actions, and uphold their own responsibilities under international law to ensure that the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people are protected. Holding Israeli authorities to account for their violations will help, rather than hinder, the ability to obtain a just and durable solution to the conflict.
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