Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Richard Falk
The graph below, based on Israeli sources, shows the number of Palestinian rockets and mortar shells fired each month in 2008, with the period of the ceasefire stretching basically from its initiation on 19 June to its effective termination on 4 November when Israel struck a lethal blow in Gaza that reportedly killed at least six Hamas operatives. It dramatically demonstrates the extent to which the ceasefire was by far the most secure period with respect to the threats posed by the rockets:
The authors of a study based on the data displayed in the graph above5 concluded that “the ceasefire was remarkably effective; after it began in June 2008, the rate of rocket and mortar fire from Gaza dropped to almost zero, and stayed there for almost four months.” The experience of the temporary ceasefire demonstrates both the willingness and the capacity of those exerting control in Gaza to eliminate rocket and mortar attacks.
To download Richard Falk’s full report, click here.
Of 1,434 Palestinians killed in the Gaza invasion, 960 were civilians, including 121 women and 288 children, according to a United Nations special rapporteur, Richard Falk. Israeli military lawyers instructed army commanders that Palestinians who remained in a targeted building after having been warned to leave were “voluntary human shields,” and thus combatants. Israeli gunners “knocked on roofs” — that is, fired first at corners of buildings, before hitting more vulnerable points — to “warn” Palestinian residents to flee.
With nearly all exits from the densely populated Gaza Strip blocked by Israel, and chaos reigning within it, this was a particularly cruel flaunting of international law. Willful killings of civilians that are not required by military necessity are grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, and are considered war crimes under the Nuremberg principles.
For full article, visit http://www.palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=14985
“To avoid an incident at the airport, Israel could have either refused to grant visas or communicated to the UN that I would not be allowed to enter, but neither step was taken. It seemed that Israel wanted to teach me, and more significantly, the UN a lesson: there will be no cooperation with those who make strong criticisms of Israel’s occupation policy.
After being denied entry, I was put in a holding room with about 20 others experiencing entry problems. At this point, I was treated not as a UN representative, but as some sort of security threat, subjected to an inch-by-inch body search and the most meticulous luggage inspection I have ever witnessed.”
For full article, visit http://www.palestine-pmc.com/details.asp?cat=4&id=3930
Tel Aviv says its unmanned aerial vehicles are able to distinguish fighters from civilians. More than 48 Palestinian civilians, the daily reveals, were killed in Israeli drone attacks in Gaza.
In one of the most heartbreaking cases, a Palestinian family of six was killed in Gaza City while sitting around and having tea in their courtyard.
The United States has reacted angrily to a UN report accusing Israel of committing war crimes in its recent 23-day war on the besieged Gaza, including the use of children as human shields.
“We’ve expressed our concern many times about the special rapporteur’s views on dealing with that question, and we’ve found the rapporteur’s views to be anything but fair,” State Department Spokesman Robert Wood said in a press briefing on Monday, March 23.
“Because Mr Falk was unable to enter the Palestinian territories, his latest report focuses on the legality of Israel’s January operation in Gaza in general, rather than in specific cases or claims that disproportionate force was used.
Mr Falk said in order to determine if the war was legal, it was necessary to assess whether Israeli forces could differentiate between civilian and military targets in Gaza.
“If it is not possible to do so, then launching the attacks is inherently unlawful, and would seem to constitute a war crime of the greatest magnitude under international law,” Mr Falk’s report says.
He also points to the fact that Gaza’s borders were closed, so civilians were unable to flee the fighting.
Mr Falk, who will present his findings at a news conference at 17:15 GMT, is calling for an independent inquiry to examine possible war crimes committed by both Israel and Hamas.”
“The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories has said Israel’s military offensive on Gaza would seem to constitute a war crime of the greatest magnitude under international law’.
Richard Falk called the 22-day bombardment a ‘massive assault on a densely populated urbanised setting’, with the civilian population subjected to ‘an inhumane form of warfare that kills, maims and inflicts mental harm’. ”