ICJ calls for condemnation of other Israeli violations of international law

The ICJ welcomes the resolution of the UN Security Council declaring that the deportation of Palestinians from the West Bank is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Since 1985 there have been 40 other such deportations, which failed to attract the same interest internationally.

It is to be hoped that other and even more serious violations will be similarly condemned and that action will be taken to induce the Israeli government to respect its obligations under the Geneva Conventions.

Among these violations are the ‘settlements’ of Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states clearly “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” There are at least 119 such settlements with a total population of 65,000 in the West Bank and 2,700 in the Gaza. Some are very small, but with the intention to expand them later. These settlements, which many believe to be intended as a preliminary step to annexation, are clearly illegal.

Another article seriously violated is Article 33 which reads, “No person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.” The military authorities have adopted a practice of demolishing or sealing the homes of persons accused, but usually not yet condemned, of committing a violent political offence. The result is that the other inhabitants of the house are rendered homeless. 139 such cases have occurred, in the last three years, each with between 2 and 25 innocent people suffering this collective punishment as a means of intimidating others.

Appeals to the Israeli Supreme Court against these violations have all failed because obligations under international treaty law do not form part of Israel’s internal law unless passed into law by the parliament.

The government of Israel argues that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to the occupied territories, saying that they are not part of Jordan. The international community has not recognised this or other Israeli arguments, as is shown by the numerous resolutions of the General Assembly and now of the Security Council.

Moreover, Israel has in practice recognised Jordan’s jurisdiction over the West Bank by providing that the Jordanian laws in force at the beginning of the occupation are still the law of the West Bank, save as amended by Israeli military orders.

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