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
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 Israels own security.
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.
understand Israels 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.
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.
It is clear
that todays 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.
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.
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 Israels obligations under international law and will do nothing
to safeguard Israels security or facilitate the resumption of serious attempts
to find a solution to the conflict.