IX. Appendix: Statements by International Community Condemning Destruction in Rafah
"The Secretary-General strongly condemns Israel's ongoing and widespread destruction of Palestinian homes in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Reports cite the demolition of scores of buildings over the last two days, in addition to 130 residential buildings already destroyed this month. The Secretary-General has repeatedly called on the Government of Israel to address its security needs within the boundaries of international law. He urges Israel to uphold its obligations as an occupying Power by immediately halting such actions, which are tantamount to collective punishment and a clear violation of international law."
May 14, 2004, Spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan
"We are extremely alarmed that even more demolitions are planned. Already huge swathes of Rafah have been flattened, to the extent that some families have experienced the trauma of demolition more than once. With these disproportionate military operations, Israel is in grave breach of international humanitarian law. This collective punishment can do nothing to calm the situation in Gaza or enhance Israel's own security."
May 15, 2004, Peter Hansen, UNRWA Commissioner-General
"The Secretary-General reiterates his condemnation of Israel's widespread destruction of Palestinian homes in Rafah in the Gaza Strip. Recent reports from UN agencies assert that some 2,197 people have lost their homes in the first 15 days of May. In addition, there are reports of Israeli military plans for a more extensive round of house demolitions in Gaza. He repeats his call on the Government of Israel to fulfil its obligations under international law as it acts to ensure its security. As the occupying Power, it must cease such acts of collective punishment immediately, and refrain from further grave violations of international law."
May 17, 2004, Spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan
"We understand Israel's need to defend itself from attacks, but as a matter of policy we oppose the use of home demolitions to achieve this end and we are concerned about the humanitarian consequences of such demolitions."
May 17, 2004, Spokesman for the American Embassy in Israel
"We, the undersigned international humanitarian organizations, find this situation unacceptable. We are appalled by Israeli Government plans to continue demolitions on this large scale and 'create a new reality on the border between Egypt and Gaza' as stated by Shaul Mofaz, the Israeli Defense Minister on May 16th 2004 in a cabinet meeting."
May 18, 2004, Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA)
"It is clear that today's action was completely disproportionate to any threat faced by the Israeli military and that Israeli forces showed a reckless disregard for human life.I would once again remind Israel, the occupying power, that the fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War is fully applicable to the Gaza Strip."
May 19, 2004, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D., speaking as President of the Council of the European Union
"These actions constitute a violation of international humanitarian law and constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949 (Fourth Geneva Convention).They also amount to collective punishment which violates both humanitarian law and international human rights law.It is impossible to accept the Israeli argument that these actions are justified by military necessity.On the contrary, in the language of Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, they are "carried out unlawfully and wantonly."
May 19, 2004, John Dugard, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967
"UNRWA calls on the IDF to halt its demolition of houses immediately and discontinue the humanitarian tragedy it is wreaking on the largely civilian population of Rafah.UNRWA fully recognizes the right of the State of Israel to defend itself and its people. The military actions of the last few days are in violation of Israel's obligations under international law and will do nothing to safeguard Israel's security or facilitate the resumption of serious attempts to find a solution to the conflict."
May 20, 2004, UNRWA statement