International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (
EMHRN)
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)

Gaza/Operation cast lead
Final statement of a mission of prominent lawyers and activists
Paris, Geneva, Copenhagen, January 21st 2009

We are appalled at the horror of the war launched in the Gaza strip, the major loss of civilian lives and the wide scale destruction of civilian property and infrastructure in the context of the operation « Cast Lead, » as well as by the failure of the international community to prevent this tragedy.
 

Based upon the information our delegation received from Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations, who have been monitoring the armed conflict, we have strong reasons to believe that Israel has grossly violated international humanitarian law, including the IVth Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Populations in Times of Conflict and customary international law governing the conduct of hostilities. Some of these violations constitute crimes under international law. In particular, the Israeli army has engaged in indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks and has failed in its l! egal obligation to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure from such attacks. 

The operations have also gravely impaired the civil, cultural, economic, political, and social rights of the people of Gaza.

No violation of International Humanitarian Law – as perpetrated by Palestinian combatants – can ever legitimise similar or aggravated violations committed by Israel.

Therefore, the members of the mission call for the urgent establishment of an independent commission of investigation into all the alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, which would bring to light the individual responsibilities involved and pave the way for mechanisms of accountability and redress.  All parties to the IVth Geneva Convention have a legal obligation to deploy such investigation

The members of the mission also condemn the inability of the United States and of the European Union, partners of the Israeli government, to take strong measures aimed at preventing or stopping the war.

We urge the European Union and the United States to give their immediate and full support to the independent investigation that should be organised immediately.

We urge the international community to exert pressure on Israel to lift the siege of Gaza and end its occupation of all Palestinian Territory.

We call upon the Israeli and Egyptian authorities to ensure prompt access of human rights observers into the Gaza strip.

Background
In the context of the operation « Cast Lead », the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN)  and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) deployed a joint mission in Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Egypt, from January 17th to 21th, 2009.
The mission was composed of prominent and renowned human rights defenders and activ! ists from European countries and the United States of America.

The objective of the mission was to call the parties to the conflict authorities to
    *  an immediate cease fire, in application of UN Security Council resolution 1860,
    *  enable access of NGOs and Journalists to the Occupied Territories,
    *  lift  immediately, unconditionally and permanently the siege on the Gaza strip
    *  deploy an international fact-finding mission under UN auspices, documenting the grave violations perpetrated in the context of the conflict,
    *  prosecute the authors of the international crimes.

The mission also aimed at addressing support and solidarity with the civil society organizations, in particular human rights organisations, operating in Israel and the Occupied Territories at this time.

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