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H.E. Bijan Gerami, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Ghana
In the Name of God, the Compassionate the Merciful
Regarding the crimes committed by the Israel in its recent attacks on the Gaza Strip and other occupied territories
In its recent attacks against the Gaza Strip and other occupied territories, the Israel has committed the most serious atrocities during its 75 years of occupation. Indiscriminate and deliberate attacks against civilians, particularly women and children, targeting journalists, aid workers and other protected persons, civilian infrastructures including hospitals, mosques, churches, schools, refugee camps, residential buildings, ambulances, and places affiliated with the United Nations and other international organizations, are just parts of those atrocities.
Moreover, the Israel has put in place a complete blockade of Gaza, barring the entry of water, food, fuel, electricity and medical supplies. Those acts constitute a blatant violation rules and principles of international law, international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
Indeed, impunity of the perpetrators and abettors is a contributing factor for commission of those crimes. The occupying regime, feeling immune as a result of the silence and inaction of the international community, has been continuously committing the most serious crimes of international concern.
In this regard, the following points and facts are presented:
- Continued violation of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination
Article 1 of the United Nations Charter emphasizes the right of peoples to self-determination. Since its very inception, the Israel has refused to uphold UN resolutions, especially resolutions of the Security Council and General Assembly concerning the Palestinians’ rights. The Israel has prevented realization of the Palestinian cause and grossly violated their right to self-determination by illegal occupation of their territories and subsequent annexation, transferring its own population to the occupied territories, and plundering the natural resources of Palestine. Violation of the right to self-determination and exploitation of the natural resources of the occupied territory entails the international responsibility as well as individual criminal responsibility.
For that reason, any support to the people under colonization and occupation for realization of the right to self -determination is legitimate. Meanwhile, assisting the occupying regime is recognized as a violation of the right to self-determination.
It is worth noting that the United Nations General Assembly on December 14, 1990, while upholding the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, “reaffirmed the legitimacy of the struggle of people for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial domination, apartheid and foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle”. Furthermore, the United Nations General Assembly acknowledged the peoples’ entitlement to “actions against and resistance to” forcible actions to deprive them of their right to self-determination.
From this perspective, the armed struggle of the Palestinian resistance forces against the occupying regime on October 2023 and before is a legitimate action. It is an action in exercise of the right to self-determination of the people who have for the past 75 years been under harshest living conditions caused by the occupation, economic blockade, and expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied territories.
- States’ obligation not to recognize as lawful the situation created by the occupation
According to the rules of customary international law, States are committed not to recognize as lawful, situations created by the violation of the peremptory norms of international law including the acquisition of land by force, nor render aid or assistance in maintaining that situation. Therefore, States have an obligation to cooperate to bring to an end situations created by the violation of the peremptory norms of international law.
Undoubtedly, the States that assist, incite and encourage the occupying regime to continue gross violation of international law, international humanitarian law and international human rights law, are considered accomplices and bear international responsibility.
- The obligation to respect international humanitarian law in Gaza
States have an obligation to respect and ensure respect for the international humanitarian law. Common Article 1 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions requires “the High Contracting parties undertake to respect and ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances”. States shall avoid any support to the violation of international humanitarian law. Under specific circumstances, even opposing a ceasefire may be considered a violation of international humanitarian law.
Compliance with international humanitarian law is mandatory in all circumstances. Pursuant to Article 1 (4) of the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, the conventions and its protocol not only apply to the armed conflicts between States (common Article 2), but also “include armed conflicts in which peoples are fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes in the exercise of their right of self -determination”.
Violation of rules of international humanitarian law is considered very serious worldwide. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the 2004 advisory opinion regarding “legal consequences of construction of a wall in the occupied Palestinian territory” affirms that a large number of those rules have turned into peremptory norms. Certainly, respect for the principle of “distinction” and prohibition of targeting the civilians are among those rules that may not be violated under any circumstances. From a legal perspective, deliberate targeting of civilians is unjustifiable.
Nonetheless, brutal acts of the Israel have continued in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, irrespective of the customary principles of “necessity”, “proportionality”, “distinction” and “precaution”.
- Irrelevance of the right to self-defense in connection with the attacks on Gaza
The Israel and its patrons unjustifiably inadequately invoke the right to self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter in order to justify crimes and international wrongful acts in Gaza. However, ICJ rejects invocation of this principle for the occupied territories of Palestine.
Furthermore, the right to self-determination has reinforced the principle of prohibition of use of force. In other words, people under foreign occupation in exercise of the right to self-determination, may struggle against foreign occupation of their territories.
Therefore, the acts of the Israel violate Article 4 (2) of the United Nations Charter as well as the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people.
5- Commission of war crimes in the occupied territories
Five weeks into the conflict, official statistics indicate over 11,000 people have been killed in Gaza, mostly children and women. Most hospitals and health centers are out of service due to the attacks of the Israel or lack of fuel. In one case on October 17, 2023, an attack on Al-Ahli Arab Hospital killed hundreds of people. The number of UN aid workers killed during this period is more than any other period in UN history. In the meantime, the officials of the Israel have openly admitted that “the emphasis is on damage and not on accuracy” of attacks.
In addition, the Israel has cut off the flow of water, food, electricity, fuel and medical supplies to Gaza and does not allow aid delivery to ordinary people. Such acts amount to collective punishment and are clear violation of the rules and principles of international law.
Customary rules of international humanitarian law require unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief to civilians in need. Also, Article 54 of the Additional Protocol I to the 1949 Geneva conventions prohibits “starvation of civilians as a method of warfare”. Violation of these rules definitely constitute war crimes.
Targeting civilians, civilian objects, humanitarian units and all such criminal acts of the Israel in the occupied territories are war crimes set forth in articles 50, 51, 130 and 147 of the Geneva Conventions and Articles 11 and 85 of the Additional Protocol I.
6- Commission of crimes against humanity in the occupied territories
The Israel has forced relocation of civilian population inside Gaza strip and has plans for their forcible displacement. Article 49 of the fourth Geneva Convention absolutely prohibit such acts. Those criminal acts, committed as a widespread organized offensive against the civilian population of Palestine, amount to crimes against humanity.
Meanwhile, those civilians who refuse to comply with the Israel’s demands for forced relocation, continue to remain under international protection and are not deprived of their civilian status.
7.Commission of crime of genocide in the occupied territories
The attacks of the Israel have caused serious harm and suffering to the people of Gaza and its continuation, may bring about the destruction of at least part of the population in Gaza. According to the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, such attacks committed with intent to destroy a group of people, is considered genocide.
It is noteworthy that the officials of the Israel have despicably called the people of Gaza “animals” and declared their plan to “eliminate everything” and to create conditions like “hell”. Such statements by officials of the Israel reveal their specific intention to commit the crime of genocide.
8. The illegitimacy of the nuclear threat
The officials of the Israel threatened to use nuclear weapons against the people of Gaza. According to the 1996 advisory opinion of the ICJ, a threat to use nuclear weapons is generally illegitimate and against the will of the international community, as reflected in resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly. Such a threat by the Israel – which is staging massive offensive on Gaza and the principle of self-defense is not applicable to its wrongful acts- is certainly illegal and unequivocally condemned.
Furthermore, this threat by the high-ranking officials of the Israel proves possession of nuclear weapons in violation of all principles and rules of non-proliferation in international law.
9- Jurisdiction of international courts
ICJ and International Criminal Court (ICC) have jurisdiction for issues related to commission of international crimes. ICJ may exercise jurisdiction over the crime of genocide in accordance with 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Likewise, due to the membership of the State of Palestinian in the Statute of the ICC, the Court has jurisdiction over international crimes committed by the officials and forces of the Israel in the occupied territories. The ICC prosecutor affirmed the jurisdiction of the Court over the crimes committed by the Israel in its recent attacks.
Ambassador of Islamic Republic Of Iran In Ghana