August 18, 2009
Al-Haq, a Palestinian NGO based in the West Bank, conducted statistical research on the most recent Israeli war against Gaza, named "Operation Cast Lead". They have released the results of their investigation, with listing of loss of lives, property, jobs, infrastructures, agricultural property and a listing of the manner in which the destruction came about. Complete with a series of tables, the information is a comprehensive documentation that may serve as a point of reference for the claims that will be filed in the International Criminal Courts as well as for research on the efficacy and deliberateness of Israeli targetting of civilians and their property, as has been amply claimed by all who have witnessed the carnage.
Al-Haq is an independent Palestinian non-governmental human rights organisation based in Ramallah, West Bank. Established in 1979 to protect and promote human rights and the rule of law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), the organisation has special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
Al-Haq documents violations of the individual and collective rights of Palestinians in the OPT, irrespective of the identity of the perpetrator, and seeks to end such breaches by way of advocacy before national and international mechanisms and by holding the violators accountable. The organisation conducts research; prepares reports, studies and interventions on breaches of international human rights and humanitarian law in the OPT; and undertakes advocacy before local, regional and international bodies. Al-Haq also cooperates with Palestinian civil society organisations and governmental institutions in order to ensure that international human rights standards are reflected in Palestinian law and policies. The organisation has a specialised international law library for the use of its staff and the local community.
(Introduction to the PDF)
On the morning of 27 December 2008, the Israeli occupying forces launched 'Operation Cast Lead,’ a wide-ranging military offensive against the Gaza Strip. 80 warplanes carried out a devastating surprise airstrike campaign whose scale and intensity signalled Israel’s intention to inflict widespread destruction throughout the Gaza Strip.
After 22 days of unrelenting aerial attacks coupled with an intensive ground invasion that began on 3 January 2009, the death toll exceeded 1,400 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians including women and children. Over 5,000 more were wounded. Excessive civilian casualties were compounded by the unprecedented destruction of civilian infrastructure across the Gaza Strip including hospitals, schools, mosques, civilian homes, police stations and United Nations compounds.
During the offensive, Al-Haq’s fieldworkers, as well as those of its partner organisation, the Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights, collected information and evidence relating to the ongoing attack throughout the Gaza Strip. Owing to the sheer volume of incidents that occurred over the 22-day assault, Al-Haq, supported by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, recruited six additional temporary fieldworkers to assist its two permanent field workers in Gaza, who are supported by Diakonia. During the assault and in the months following it, the field workers set about comprehensively documenting the destruction wrought during the offensive. 30,000 copies of questionnaires were prepared in order to collect data on the damage inflicted during the attack, and the fieldworkers went from site to site meticulously documenting the details of each incident. Sworn affidavits were taken from witnesses and victims, as well as supportive visual evidence in the form of photographs and videos.
Medical reports were obtained from hospitals where relevant. Details were verified and cross-checked, and all the information was entered into a single database kept jointly with Al-Mezan.
This report presents a selection of the data collected, with tables illustrating the extent of the killing and the destruction perpetrated by the Israeli Occupying Forces during the offensive.
(Conclusion of the PDF)
On the basis of the data presented in this report, an analysis of the choice of targeted areas, methods of attack and the number of civilians killed and injured clearly indicates a reckless disregard for civilian life synonymous with intent. Further, it is clear that 'Operation Cast Lead' was not just an assault against the Palestinian population, but also against the Gaza Strip’s infrastructure and the livelihoods of its people, with factories, farms and other economic resources systematically targeted. Prima facie evidence exists of the commission of war crimes amounting to grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, most notably wilful killing of civilians, including women and children; extensive destruction of property, both residential and commercial, public and private; and wilfully causing great suffering and serious injury to body or health. This is in addition to the fact that the resort to the use of force by Israel was unlawful in the first place.
The denial of access to foreign journalists during the siege and Israel’s refusal to cooperate with various international investigation mechanisms that have been established are testament to a desire to suppress the truth and full information regarding the scale of the destruction wrought by this unprecedented attack. The figures contained in this report are intended to contribute to a growing database of documentary evidence on 'Operation Cast Lead'.
More than six months after the end of operation, the Gaza Strip remains under siege. The continued border closures by Israel and the prevention of crucial supplies from entering Gaza, ensure that the humanitarian situation remains dire.
SEE ALSO: http://www.alhaq.org/index.php