AL-HAQ PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
28 January 2005
Al-Haq is gravely concerned about the residents of Seida, a village in the Toulkarem Governorate in the northern West Bank, who are currently in the fourth day of a severe curfew imposed by Israeli occupying forces. The 3,000 residents of the village have been without water or electricity since 25 January 2005, and they are running out of food and medicine. The area is surrounded by military vehicles and Israeli soldiers, who have searched from house to house for wanted individuals. Further, Israeli forces have commandeered Palestinian civilian homes for military purposes. During this period, residents of the village, located approximately 20 kilometres from the city of Toulkarem, have reported that they are regularly hearing bombing, particularly from the direction of caves nearby the village.
Israeli actions in this village are in breach of the provisions of international humanitarian and human rights law. As an Occupying Power, Israel must ensure the food and medical supplies of the Palestinian population; Article 55 of the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War adds that an Occupying Power "should, in particular, bring in the necessary foodstuffs, medical stores and other articles if the resources of the occupied territory are inadequate." It should be noted that this duty has even been maintained by the Israeli High Court of Justice, which stated on 30 May 2004 that it is the obligation of the military commander to ensure that Palestinians are ensured access to food, water and medicine. In addition, Israeli forces should agree to relief schemes on behalf of the population of the OPT and facilitate them by all means at their disposal. Israeli actions over the last four days have violated the fundamental obligation to protect objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population.
In addition, the failure to respect, protect and fulfil the fundamental rights to food and water are violations of Israel‘s obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Article 11 of the Covenant upholds the right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. As a signatory to the Covenant, Israel must cease all interference with this right, and proactively take steps to ensure its realisation.
The Israeli use of Palestinian homes to conduct military operations is also unlawful. International humanitarian law makes clear that private property must be respected. Further, the imposition of a curfew on the entire village constitutes the collective punishment of all its residents, in breach of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
It is evident that the actions over the last few days constitute serious violations of Israeli obligations under its own law as well as international human rights and humanitarian law. As such, Al-Haq calls on the Israeli forces to immediately cease these illegal actions and lift the curfew over Seida. Its residents should immediately be given access to food, water and medicine. In addition, the international community must intervene to ensure that an immediate end is brought to these illegal acts. Their fundamental rights of the people of Seida must be respected.
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