Human Rights Council- 9th Special Session
11 January, 2008
Delivered by Mr. Jeremie Smith
Thank you Mr. President, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), in collaboration with nine partner organizations throughout the Arab region , welcomes the holding of this special session which has been urged by the Cairo Institute and other Arab organizations. We express our deep concern regarding the ongoing humanitarian crisis and widespread use of disproportionate and indiscriminate force by Israel in the Gaza Strip, resulting in the unlawful killings of hundreds of civilians, including aid workers and UN staff. .
While both the Israeli occupation forces and, to a lesser extent the Palestinian armed groups, have not taken the necessary precautions to prevent the loss of civilian life, the most recent attacks by Israel on the Gaza Strip demonstrate a wanton disregard for humanitarian and human rights standards on an unprecedented level. The government of Israel, instead of taking real measures to immediately stop the war crimes and grave human rights violations committed on the ground, continues to play political and rhetorical games with the international community.
In this regard we call on the Council to support and take the following points into consideration while adopting any measures on the situation in Gaza:
The Council must demand an immediate ceasefire along with an unconditional withdrawal of the Israeli occupying forces from the Gaza Strip, and call for effective measures to ensure that Israeli Occupation Forces and Hamas facilitate the entry and work of international relief workers and the full access of relief materials and equipment into the Gaza Strip.
The Council should establish a fact finding mission to assess the human rights and International Humanitarian Law violations in the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the ongoing attacks, including an investigation into violations of humanitarian and human rights law committed by Israeli forces and Hamas militias during these attacks. The fact finding mission should be empowered to consider the criminal responsibility of individuals for acts of war crimes committed in Gaza, including against, medical and relief personnel , and the Council to submit any evidence it gathers to the International Criminal Court.
Finally, we call on the Council to urge the Security Council to send UN peacekeeping forces under Chapter VII of the UN charter to the Occupied Palestinian Territories with a mandate that allows them to: (1) Provide international protection for the Palestinian people, (2) Observe any resultant ceasefire by all parties to the conflict, (3) Contribute to the alleviation of the serious humanitarian crises inside the Gaza Strip, and (4) remain in place until all Israeli occupation forces have completely withdrawn to the 1967 borders of both the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
Thank you Mr. President.
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