The International Association of Democratic Lawyers, (IADL) with consultative status at ECOSOC and thousands of affiliated lawyers and organizations around the world, condemns in the strongest possible terms the current aggression by Israel against the people of the Gaza Strip. This attack is not self-defense against rockets from Gaza. Israel has blockaded and continues an effective occupation of Gaza such that it is required under the laws of belligerent occupation to strictly observe the Fourth Geneva Convention, and to not engage in blatant collective punishment and attacks on civilians and civilian objects. Prior to this current escalation, Israel has continued the complete blockade of Gaza, and had engaged in unanswered extra-judicial killing. Because Gaza is occupied, it has a right to resist occupation. Although there are limits on that resistance, the hundreds of air strikes and extra-judicial killings of Palestinian civilians and persons associated with the civilian Hamas government are not legally permitted.
The Israeli actions are illegal. If it invades Gaza again as it did in Operation Cast Lead, it will be an illegal war of aggression prohibited by the United Nations Charter and the Nuremberg Principles. Israel claims it has a right to militarily defend itself is under Article 51 of the UN Charter. But his right of self-defense in the Charter is limited to repelling an armed attack from outside a state’s borders and lands it occupies. Israel is not experiencing an armed attack from outside its territory as it continues to occupy Gaza, even in light of the withdrawal of Israeli troops in 2005. Israel is experiencing resistance from the people it occupies and, contrary to its duties as an occupying power, it is engaging again in massive attacks on civilians in order to crush that resistance. The resistance of people under occupation is not legally defined as aggression for which Article 51 self-defense may be used by people resisting occupation. See UNGA Resolution 3314 (XXIX) of 1974. IADL condemns the overwhelming force being used against the people of the Gaza strip.
IADL calls upon the International Community to take all steps to end this aggression. Consistent with our prior statements, a US veto against actions to prevent the Security Council to Act to end the aggression would be an illegal use of the veto. IADL also requests that the international community make it clear that it will hold Israel accountable for its crimes.
IADL also joins its affiliate Palestinian Center for Human Rights in demanding the following actions.
- IADL requests the urgent convening of a Special Session of the Human Rights Council, and calls upon all parties to fulfil their binding legal obligations under international humanitarian law.
- IADL calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to convene and act to protect civilians in light of the seriousness of the ongoing escalation.
- IADL reminds the international community of the last assault on the Gaza Strip, in which civilians bore the brunt of political inaction during a large scale military offensive. We should not wait for the same atrocities to be committed again.