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In addition, a large majority of those 84 children were killed in their town or city, in densely populated areas of Gaza (Beit Hanoun, Jabalia, Gaza City, Rafah, Khan Younis). This demonstrates that Israel deliberately targeted civilian built-up areas in violation of articles 48, 51, 52 and 77 of the First Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions, on the protection of civilian populations and children in times of war.
When faced with such high number of child fatalities during this period of five months, and the circumstances surrounding them, DCI/PS can only conclude that Israel is not prepared to give due consideration to the international humanitarian law principles of distinction and proportionality enshrined in the Geneva Conventions, and that it is legally bound to uphold.
In his January 2007 report, John Dugard condemned Israel’s 2006 military campaigns in Gaza, and observed that they “violated the most fundamental rules of international humanitarian law, which constitute war crimes in terms of article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and article 85 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflict (Protocol I)”.2
The right to life is the most fundamental of all human rights; it is protected in many international human rights law instruments to which Israel is legally bound, namely: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and of particular consequence when examining the rights of Palestinian children, the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Yet, Israel’s military actions in Gaza between 28 June and 26 November 2006 have seriously breached principles on the right to life included in these instruments.
DCI/PS calls on Human Rights Council members to:
- exert pressure on the Israeli government to (i) carry out an independent inquiry on the killing of innocent children in Gaza during operations “Summer Rains” and “Autumn Clouds”, and (ii) authorise the UN fact finding mission to the Gaza Strip, mandated to probe into the killing of 19 civilians (including 8 children) in Beit Hanoun in November 20063.
- issue recommendations for Israel to (i) alter its military operational guidelines in order to respect international humanitarian law principles of distinction and proportionality during hostilities (ii) comply with its obligations under international human rights law and in particular the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
1To ensure the utmost accuracy DCI/PS fieldworkers collect their information from a variety of sources. Eye witness statements and witness statements are accurately recorded; sworn affidavits are taken and detailed testimonies are collected. Fieldworkers take particular effort to ensure that all case-study information is accurate by carefully corroborating and cross-checking their accounts with other human rights organisations, international and national journalists, medical professionals and institutions, local officials, and Israeli government statements. DCI/PS fieldworkers work in a demanding and frequently dangerous environment. Security conditions sometimes inhibit immediate data collection at the scene. All cases for which DCI/PS has been unable to find eyewitnesses, or other credible sources of information, are acknowledged as unconfirmed. The DCI/PS Monitoring and Documentation Unit comprises three office staff in addition to 11 highly trained and experienced fieldworkers who visit the sites of alleged child rights violations as soon as access is feasible.
2A/HRC/4/17, paragraph 22 (p.11).
3 Resolution S-3/1, adopted on 15 November 2006 by the Council, decided to dispatch a high-level fact-finding mission to Beit Hanoun. Israel blocked the mission..