Gaza; A decisive test for humanitarian rights

International crimes entail the individual criminal responsibility of those who commit such acts, and the International Criminal Court is empowered to take action against these individuals.

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People take part in a pro-Palestinian rally in London, Britain, Nov. 11, 2023. (Xinhua/Li Ying)

In the wake of the unprecedented attacks of the Zionist regime on the defenseless people of Gaza in Palestine, important questions were raised regarding the functions of human rights mechanisms and international and intra-national organizations in armed conflicts.

The Zionist regime, in blatant violation of fundamental human principles and values, and in disregard of the provisions of international law, engaged in deliberate attacks targeting the civilians and civilian locations, leading to mass killings- essentially, a deliberate “genocide”.

The regime’s attacks on Gaza included intentional and blind aggressions on civilians, particularly women and children, as well as targeting journalists, relief forces, and other individuals protected by humanitarian regulations. These actions were just one aspect of the criminal behavior exhibited by the regime during the attacks.

The complete blockade of this Strait, preventing the entry of essential supplies such as water, food, fuel, electricity, and medicine, serves as clear evidence of the intentional violation of humanitarian regulations in armed conflicts.

While the October 2023 attacks by the Zionist regime marked an unprecedented scale in terms of civilian casualties, this regime has a dark history of disregarding international law since its inception.

Illegally occupying lands, annexing territories, transferring its population to occupied lands, and exploiting the natural resources of Palestine constitute gross violations of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and hinder the realization of the Palestinian cause.

Simultaneously, these unlawful actions give rise to international responsibility, including the obligation to hold the perpetrators and leaders accountable. Moreover, they afford third countries the right to support the people under occupation and colonization, while deeming assistance to the occupying government as contrary to the right to self-determination, thereby prohibiting it.

The above matters have been emphasized by the United Nations General Assembly on December 14, 1990, by specifying the right to self-determination for the Palestinian people and declared the legitimacy of their struggle for independence, territorial integrity, national unity, and liberation from colonial rule, apartheid, and foreign occupation.

In addition, the General Assembly has generally approved the use of force in all cases where the right to self-determination is forcibly denied.

On the other hand, according to customary international law, third countries are obligated to identify situations resulting from the violation of peremptory norms of international law, including the occupation of other countries’ territories. Governments are obliged to refrain from providing material and moral assistance to occupying regimes, avoiding measures that would support an illegal and illegitimate state of occupation.

Here, it’s relevant to highlight some of the criminal actions of the Zionist regime in October 2023 against the people of Gaza, considering that according to Common Article 1 to the Fourth 1949 Geneva Conventions, member states of the convention commit to adhering to the provisions outlined in these conventions under all circumstances.

The Zionist regime’s reference to legitimate defense in response to the October 7 attack by Hamas is also a completely vain and baseless claim, since the International Court of Justice has deemed such references to legitimate defense in occupied territories, made by the occupier, as an unjustified claim.

The Zionist regime has committed war crimes in these attacks. Official statistics indicate that more than 13,000 people, predominantly women and children, have been killed in Gaza during the attacks since October 7. Most of the hospitals and health centers have been targeted by the Zionist regime and due to the lack of fuel, the rest of those centers have stopped providing medical services, further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.

The attacks on Al-Ahli Hospital on October 17, 2023, resulted in the deaths and injuries of hundreds of civilian patients and medical staff. Instead of apologizing, acknowledging or avoiding its responsibility, the authorities of this regime clearly stated that their attacks emphasized on “inflicting more damage rather than precision in attacks”!

The siege of the Gaza Strip, cutting off access to essential resources such as water, food, electricity, fuel and medicine constitutes a clear violation of international law, particularly Article 54 of the First Additional Protocol to the Four Geneva Conventions, which prohibits the use of food as a weapon.

Targeting civilians, civilian properties and places, relief units and all other criminal actions of the Zionist regime is a clear violation of Articles 50, 51, 130 and 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (GCIV) and Articles 11 and 85 of the First Additional Protocol of 1977.

Compelling the people of Gaza to relocate by the Zionist regime is a crime against humanity and a violation of Article 49 of Fourth Geneva Convention (GCIV) and Article 17 of the Second Additional Protocol.

The attacks by the Zionist regime have inflicted significant suffering on ordinary people, leading to the destruction of at least a portion of the population in Gaza. In accordance with the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, these assaults are deemed a deliberate act aiming to eliminate a specific group of people, constituting an act of “genocide.” Simultaneously, the threats made by the authorities of the Zionist regime regarding the potential use of nuclear weapons against the people of Gaza violate the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice, which deems the threat to use nuclear weapons as illegitimate. Additionally, such actions disregard numerous resolutions of the Organization’s General Assembly.

Having outlined some of the unlawful acts committed by the Zionist regime, the next step is to address how to hold the perpetrators and leaders accountable for these crimes.

In essence, international crimes entail the individual criminal responsibility of those who commit such acts, and the International Criminal Court is empowered to take action against these individuals.

On the other hand, the International Court of Justice, which can only deal governments’ violations (and not the actions of individuals), is the relevant legal authority for addressing the crime of genocide and other crimes listed in Article 3 of the Convention on the Prohibition and Punishment of Genocide.

Given the Palestinian government’s membership in the International Criminal Court, the court has jurisdiction over crimes committed by the authorities and forces of the Zionist regime in the occupied territories.

The intentional community and public opinion fervently desire news that ensures accountability for those murderers and the killers on the comfort zone of government responsibility, and guarantees punishment for their actions.

Views are personal

Alireza Delkhosh

Dr. Alireza Delkhosh, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Sri Lanka.

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