There has been an escalation of Israeli military aggression on Gaza and an intensification of artillery and air bombardment of civilian facilities and areas in the Gaza Strip, particularly evidenced yesterday with the targeting of three United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) schools, in spite of Israel's knowledge that the United Nations had opened its schools as a safe haven for civilians forced to leave their homes for fear of bombardment, or for those who had had their homes destroyed in the bombardment over the past eleven days.
Israel's intransigence, its continued bombardment and targeting of residential areas and even United Nations facilities, without any consideration to the regulations laid down by international conventions for the protection of civilians in times of war, confirms that the declarations and conventions of the United Nations and the entire international community is not enough to force Israel to adhere to international humanitarian law principles and standards, and does not constitute a deterrent to the continued war crimes and intentional targeting of civilians. The attempt by Israel to justify its bombardment of the schools because of the "firing of rockets by Hamas from these sites" is an acknowledgement of the crime and a rude and clear spurning of international law, because international law does not sanction the bombing of civilian sites and buildings in which civilians seek shelter, even if used by the other side to attack!!
The Arab Association for Human Rights, noting that the number of children and women has surpassed more than half the total number of dead and wounded, confirming a clear and intentional targeting of civilians in order to intimidate them and bring about as large a number of casualties among them, reaffirms that Israeli actions constitute a war crime and a clear and serious violation of international humanitarian law. Therefore, we:
- Call on the United Nations, and in particular the UN Security Council, to carry out its duty by taking immediate measures to protect Palestinian civilians, and take punitive measures against Israel for its crimes of aggression and the targeting of secure civilian sites, including schools, mosques and residential buildings.
- Call on the Human Rights Council and the Attorney General of the International Criminal Court to take the initiative to start legal proceedings, conduct investigations into war crimes committed against civilians in the Gaza Strip, and to prosecute those responsible for these crimes in the International Criminal Court, which was specifically formed under the 1998 Rome Convention to prosecute war criminals and ensure that they don't evade punishment.
- Call on relevant international institutions to provide protection for the medical and ambulance teams to enable them to transport the injured and the dead away from areas of bombardment, and to provide material medical support to Palestinian hospitals to enable them to carry out their duty.