Goldstone Report sign now

We, the undersigned, would like to voice our concerns and hopes regarding the Goldstone Report and the current discussions on the international law violations during the Operation Cast Lead.

It appears that the violations and their consequences are being presented symmetrically and are being applied to both sides equally.

It seems obvious that the violations committed during Operation Cast Lead cannot be considered in a historical and political vacuum. If this is allowed to happen, many people will see the outcome of the Goldstone Report as biased. The situation is not symmetrical, and therefore, its consequences must be weighed accordingly.

Israel and Gaza are not equal adversaries. Israel enjoys full sovereignty, has an official government and a regular army, and maintains full diplomatic relations with other countries. Palestinians do not have a state. Gazans are not allowed to maintain a regular army or paramilitary units. The democratically elected Hamas government has been internationally sabotaged. Palestinians are denied the right to self-determination and sovereignty.

Since 1967, Gazans have been living under illegal occupation and have been deliberately subjected to political and economical hardship. Israel does not have the right to occupy the Palestinian Territory. Palestinians have the right to defend themselves. In this important context, Israel is the perpetrator, Palestinians are the victims. Therefore, the two sides in this conflict must not be treated equally. Even if both sides violated the rules of war, Palestinians did it in self-defence, having no other means to oppose Israeli occupation, economic blockade, and frequent military aggressions.

The disproportion of force used in the Operation Cast Lead and the unequal casualties are therefore secondary. They merely reflect the disproportion between military capabilities of the two sides in this conflict. What is important is the intention with which the force was used.

For over 60 years, the world has been witnessing deliberate and systematic ethnic cleansing in Palestine. Villages and agricultural lands are being destroyed. Many of the original inhabitants have been killed or dispossessed and expelled. Refugees have been denied their right of return or right to fair compensation. Political opponents are being kidnapped or assassinated on the orders of Israeli government. Civilians in Gaza have been frequently slaughtered and civilian infrastructure destroyed as means of collective punishment, not as means of self-defence. The concept of Israels right to defend itself in the illegally occupied land is a distortion of international law.

Israel accuses Hamas of using civilians as a human shield. Given the fact that Gazans dont have a regular army and that the densely populated Gaza is practically sealed, their resistance is in nature civilian. At the same time, Israel consistently moves its civilian population to illegal settlements in the Palestinian Territory, using its own civilians as a shield to protect stolen land. Any attempt to take back this rightfully Palestinian land is then interpreted as an attack on civilian population and a violation of the rules of war.

Aggressive actions taken by illegal Israeli settlers against Palestinian inhabitants and farmers also demonstrate a lack of symmetry in the situation on the ground. The right of self-defence is clearly on the side of the Palestinians. The right of self-defence cannot be taken away from the victims.

In conclusion, we ask that you take all aspects of this conflict into consideration. A just assessment must include the overall historical and political context. This conflict did not start with a Hamas rocket being fired on Sderot, a town built on the ruins of Palestinian villages.

International law must be upheld and cannot be compromised. In accordance with all relevant UN Resolutions, dating back to 1967, Israel should unconditionally withdraw to its pre-1967 borders. Facts on the ground should be rolled back. Palestinians must be allowed a sovereign state. Status of Jerusalem must be negotiated from the position outlined in UN General Assembly Resolution 181. Refugees must be allowed to return home or must be granted a fair compensation and a place to live with dignity. Anything less will compromise the credibility of international law and will render it useless in the future. Law should not be negotiable.

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Juliana ShieldsBy:
Nature and EnvironmentIn:
Petition target:
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

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