Tuesday, September 8, 2015

UN Report: Gaza Still Occupied by Israel

Turns out that Gaza today is still occupied by the State of Israel.
The Occupied Palestinian Territory is comprised of the West Bank, including East-Jerusalem and the Gaza strip. The Government of Israel adopts the position that since it withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 during the “disengagement”, it no longer has effective control over what happens in Gaza and thus can no longer be considered as an occupying power under international law. The commission agrees that the exercise of ‘effective control’ test is the correct standard to use in determining whether a State is the occupying power over a given territory, but notes that the continuous presence of soldiers on the ground is only one criterion to be used in determining effective control.

International law does not require the continuous presence of troops of the occupying forces in all areas of a territory, in order for it to be considered as being occupied. In the Naletelic case, the ICTY held that the law of occupation also applies in areas where a state possesses the “capacity to send troops within a reasonable time to make its power felt.” The size of Gaza and the fact that it is almost completely surrounded by Israel facilitates the ability for Israel to make its presence felt. ...

In addition to its capacity to send troops to make its presence felt, Israel continues to exercise effective control of the Gaza Strip through other means. According to the Interim agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Israel maintains the control of Gaza’s airspace and maritime areas, and any activity in these areas is subject to the approval of Israel. The facts since the 2005 disengagement, among them the continuous patrolling of the territorial sea adjacent to Gaza by the Israeli Navy and constant surveillance flights of IDF aircraft, in particular remotely piloted aircraft, demonstrate the continued exclusive control by Israel of Gaza’s airspace and maritime areas which -- with the exception of limited fishing activities -- Palestinians are not allowed to use. Since 2000, the IDF has also continuously enforced a no-go zone of varying width inside Gaza along the Green Line fence. Even in periods during which no active hostilities are occurring, the IDF regularly conducts operations in that zone, such as land levelling. Israel regulates the local monetary market, which is based on the Israeli currency and has controls on the custom duties. Under the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, Israel continues to exert a high degree of control over the construction industry in Gaza. Drawings of large scale public and private sector projects, as well as the planned quantities of construction material required, must be approved by the Government of Israel. Israel also controls the Palestinian population registry, which is common to both the West Bank and Gaza, and Palestinian ID-cards can only be issued or modified with Israeli approval. Israel also regulates all crossings allowing access to and from Gaza. While it is true that the Rafah crossing is governed by Egypt, Israel still exercises a large degree of control, as only Palestinians holding passports are allowed to cross, and passports can only be issued to people featuring on the Israeli generated population registry.

The commission concludes that Israel has maintained effective control of the Gaza Strip within the meaning of Article 42 of the 1907 Hague Regulations. The assessment that Gaza continues to be occupied by Israel is shared by the international community as articulated by the General Assembly and has been reaffirmed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). (Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict, paragraphs 26-27, 29-30, pp. 7-9.)

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