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Gaza Will Remain Occupied Even After Israeli Withdrawal: UN (Palestine Media Center- (PMC) 01/29/05)Source: http://www.palestine-pmc.com/details.asp?cat=1&id=784 ARAB PRESS ARAB PRESS Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
A United Nations human rights envoy has slammed Israel’s plan to withdraw its occupying troops from the Gaza Strip as a sham, saying that Israel will remain an occupying power even after the plan is implemented, as it plans to maintain its grip on the Strip.

John Dugard, the UN rapporteur for human rights in the Occupied Territory, said that under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel would remain responsible for the welfare of Palestinians, even after its planned withdrawal because it plans to retain control of the Strip’s borders.

“In reality,” he said, “Israel does not plan to relinquish its grasp on the Gaza Strip. It plans to retain ultimate control over Gaza by controlling its borders, territorial sea and airspace. Consequently, it will in law remain an occupying power still subject to obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

In his annual report released in Geneva on Thursday, the South African professor accused Israel of war crimes for the wholesale destruction of Palestinians’ homes.

“It is difficult to resist the conclusion that punitive house demolitions constitute serious war crimes,” Dugard said in the report.

While Israel claimed that punitive home demolitions deter suicide bombings, Dugard said the destruction of Palestinian homes were tantamount to collective punishment that violated the Geneva war crimes conventions.

These prohibit the indiscriminate destruction of civilian property “except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.”

Israel plans to withdraw occupation troops and illegal settlers from the Gaza Strip while maintaining overall control of the Gaza Strip’s land, sea and air borders.

Israeli restrictions echo Apartheid

The UN human rights rapporteur also condemned the Wall Israel is building on Palestinian territory as a land grab and a tool with which to make Palestinians’ lives so intolerable they would choose to leave.

He also dismissed the Israeli claim that the Wall stops suicide bombings.

“Israel claims that the purpose of the wall is to secure Israel from terrorist attacks and that terrorist attacks inside Israel have dropped by over 80 percent as a result of the construction of the wall,” he said.

“There is, however, no compelling evidence that suicide bombers could not have been as effectively prevented from entering Israel if the wall had been built along the Green Line (the accepted border between Israel and Palestine) or within the Israeli side of the Green Line).”

He further likened the impediments on Palestinians’ movement by Israel to those imposed during Apartheid South Africa on the movement of non-whites.

“The restrictions on freedom of movement imposed by the Israeli authorities on Palestinians resemble the notorious ´pass laws´ of apartheid South Africa,” he said. (© PMC 2005 01/29/05)

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