Geneva 19 September 2014 - The Palestinian counselor of the Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations in Geneva has accused the international community of complicity in Israeli violations of international humanitarian law during its recent offensive against Gaza. This event was organized by the Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD) and the Ma’arij Foundation for Peace and Development in the framework of the 27th session of the Human Rights Council.

Mr. Adel Atieh said the failure of the international community to enact the Goldstone Report after Israel’s “Cast Lead” military operation in 2008-09 encouraged Israel to commit further war crimes during this year’s aggression against Gaza, “Operation Protective Edge”. Mr. Atieh reminded the audience that more than 2,000 people were killed in Gaza during the operation, around 500 of them children. He accused members of the European Union of voting by silence, since they abstained on a UN resolution to send a commission of enquiry to Gaza to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law during the war.

In his presentation, Mr. Jean François Fechino, Director of the International Institute for Peace, Justice and Human Rights, included an audio testimony from Ms. Amal Abu Aisha of the Women’s Affairs Centre in Gaza City. Ms. Amal Abu Aisha said that she and her four children were terrified during the Israeli attack and that an apartment block opposite of where she lived was completely destroyed.The family was unable to leave their apartment for 27 days, she said, and the water supply was cut off for six days. Hospitals and other public health facilities were overrun with the injured and were unable to treat other people in need. Mr. Fechino said the Israeli Defense Force used powerful weapons armed with depleted uranium that contaminate the soil and are known to cause cancer and birth defects.

Mrs. Razan Zuayter, President of the Arab Group for the Protection of Nature, declared the blockade of Gaza a “war on livelihoods”, which aimed to let people “almost starve”. She said that one million trees have been uprooted and 90% of fishermen have been unemployed in Gaza since 2009. The buffer zone imposed by Israel within Gaza led to the confiscation of around 40% of its territory.

In summation, Mr. Atieh said Israeli aggression created a vicious cycle, exacerbating anger amongst Palestinians and creating further insecurity for Israel and the West. He said that Israel should not be welcomed by the UN or the European Union until it demonstrates its willingness to comply with international law.