HAMAS has issued a statement headed: ‘Open letter to legal and international organisations: Let all efforts and energies unite to bring the Zionist war criminals to trial and to launch an effective legal movement against the crimes of the Zionist occupation’
This was carried by the pro-Hamas Palestinian Information Centre website on 29 July
It stated: ‘The Zionist occupation forces continue to commit crimes and massacres, one after the other, against our Palestinian people, in a flagrant challenge to all international laws, international human law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.
‘Day after day the government of the Zionist occupation proves that it is an outlaw government, committing the most heinous and repugnant war crimes that constitute a blot of shame on the record of humanity.
‘This is represented by its grave shelling of Palestinian houses, as it has done recently when it dropped a ton of explosives from F-16 fighter planes on the house of Dr Nabil Abu-Silmiyah, killing him and his entire family under feeble excuses.
‘Civilian families are killed in their bedrooms and living rooms in inhuman scenes and in extremely cruel and ugly ways. The shelling of many residential areas has led to the martyrdom of more than 120 citizens, including 16 children, and the wounding of hundreds of others in less than two weeks.
‘The occupation forces were not content with that. They committed a gross violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention when they bombed public and private establishments. They bombed, for example, the only power plant in Gaza. They bombed the offices of the legitimate Palestinian government, which, under all international laws and conventions and local and international agreements, must remain immune and excluded from the political and field conflicts and problems.
‘That included the bombing of the Interior Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the National Economy Ministry. They destroyed bridges. They also kidnapped ministers and representatives of the Palestinian people and declared them to be hostages and even brought them to racist and illegal trials under the pretext of affiliation with an outlawed organisation.
‘In the same context, the occupation forces constantly launch real and mock raids using F-16 fighter planes, particularly late at night, which creates panic and alarm among civilians, smashes the windows of their homes, and leads to the collapse of the tiled roofs of their modest houses, especially in the refugee camps and the poor neighbourhoods. This causes unbearable suffering to Palestinian citizens.
‘The occupation forces also continue to impose a land, sea and air blockade on the Gaza Strip and to obstruct the opening of Rafah land crossing. This turns the Strip into a big prison for 1.5 million people who are not allowed to receive food, medicine and fuel, and who suffer virtually permanent cuts in electricity and water, and who are isolated from the rest of the world while being subjected to brutal bombardment around the clock.
‘Perhaps the appalling practices and the successive massacres that the occupation forces perpetrate during their incursions into Palestinian residential areas, and their demolition of houses and destruction of farms during their military operations against Palestinian civilians, and their indiscriminate bombardment of houses by tank shells, and their attempt to continuously humiliate our people, show the extent of the racism and the level of repression and blind hatred that governs the Zionist conduct towards our Palestinian people and stricken kinsfolk.
‘Zionist racism appeared in its clearest forms and meanings in the demolition of houses over the heads of their occupants in many areas of the northern Gaza Strip; in the forcible displacement of those areas’ residents, who sought shelter in the schools of the UN Relief and Works Agency; and in the destruction of crops, which constitute the main source of income for a large part of the Gaza Strip population and one of the pillars of the already shaky Palestinian economy.
‘This is in addition to the destruction of the sewage networks in many residential areas, which results in the outbreak of serious contagious diseases; the unhesitating destruction of water networks, which causes serious water shortages in the Strip; and the destruction of the electricity generating plants, which obstructs the operation of water wells, fully paralyses the life of Palestinian citizens and economic and public establishments, cripples the work of hospitals and health establishments, and threatens the lives of sick people, whose treatment depends on special electrical equipment.
‘Given all the above, and out of a desire to launch and activate an active and effective legal movement to confront the Zionist war crimes on the legal levels and in the international forums, we in the Islamic Resistance Movement-Hamas stress the following:
‘1. We stress the need to condemn and denounce the hostile practices and the war crimes that the Zionist occupation forces are committing, and to engage in serious activity and organised work to expose these crimes and subject them to judicial and legal accountability in all relevant international forums.
‘2. We call on the international institutions to make speedy efforts to find the appropriate mechanisms to stop the Zionist aggression against our people.
‘3. We stress the failure of the UN Security Council in exercising the role for which it was established; namely, maintaining international peace and security. This is due to the USA’s hegemony over the Council and its provision of political cover for the Zionist occupation, which encourages this occupation and grants it a green light to continue its crimes in cold blood and without any political, legal or ethical deterrent.
‘4. We call for declaring the Zionist government an outlaw government and for imposing international sanctions on it until it complies with the international law, the international human law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.
‘5. We stress that the continuation by the Western countries and the international organisations of the policy of silence towards or justification of what is happening in Palestine, is a real involvement in the inhumane war crimes that the Zionists are committing against our people day and night, as this policy encourages them to carry on with their crimes against Palestinian civilians.
‘6. We recall demands by the various legal establishments that the Swiss government exercise its leading role in shedding light on and stopping the current gross violations of international law in the Gaza Strip, as this is the obligation of the country where the Fourth Geneva Convention is deposited. The Swiss government should make efforts to mobilise the parties to the Convention to fulfil their commitments towards the protection of the rights of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip under international human law.
‘7. We call on all law institutions, international organisations, relevant organisations and all concerned parties and free people in the world to make concerted efforts and engage in effective work to bring the Zionist war criminals to trial, whether in the International Criminal Court or in the countries where laws allow such trials, especially the perpetrators of clear crimes, such as the bombing and destruction of houses over the heads of their occupants and the merciless killing of these occupants.
‘These are flagrant war crimes in which many houses were bombed and destroyed and innocent civilian citizens were killed without any justification and under pretexts that proved to be false. We stress that the holding of a single trial would deter the occupation from continuing its crimes.
‘8. We stress the need to work to mobilise the largest legal and international position that emphasises the rights of occupied nations, including our Palestinian people, to defend themselves and resist the occupation of their lands and resources. We call on the international community to support this right unambiguously and to clearly differentiate between the legitimate resistance and the organised state terrorism that the Zionist occupation forces practice under the eyes and ears of the world.
‘9. We call on the representatives of law and international organisations, all concerned establishments and public opinion leaders in the world, to visit the Gaza Strip to see the disastrous conditions and the tragic situation of the population, with a view to generating an international pressure campaign and pushing for a fairer and more balanced position towards our Palestinian people and their national cause.
‘Finally, the world today stands at a crossroads: Either the law is applied to everyone or things are left to the law of the jungle and the language of death, destruction and occupation. In the latter case, mad fires will break out and engulf everything on earth, and matters will move towards the unknown, with no one being able to predict the consequences.
‘Let us move together towards a safer and more stable world, a world more committed to human values and principles and the international laws and conventions.’