Mohammed Salman Siddiqui & Ammarah Ishaq
In our Legal Desk, two law students tell us what are the actions of Israel that violate international laws.
It has been more than three months since Israel launched a brutal military campaign in Gaza. Nations throughout the world have become sceptical of the boundaries that Israel should have followed. In the fifty-five days since October 7, 2023, Israeli attacks have resulted in over 11.7 million Palestinians being displaced and over 14,800 Palestinian deaths, including at least 36,000 injuries (of which 75% were children and women). Some nations disagree on whether to call for a ceasefire or halt, acknowledging Israel’s right to defend itself. Despite concerns, they have refrained from publicly questioning Israel for breaking international laws. Such violations are classified as war crimes and apply to all participants in a war. The 1949 Geneva Conventions codified internationally accepted laws of armed warfare, including the treaties that govern the treatment of civilians, troops and prisoners of war mentioned in the “Law of Armed Conflict” or “International Humanitarian Law” system. Israel has violated numerous international laws, including UN Resolutions and the Laws of War and Occupation.
Violations of the UN Charter
According to the United Nations Charter, Article 1 (1945); Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations…, Principle 5 (1970), even essential fundamental liberties are being taken away, as studies by the UN, ICJ, and International HR. organizations have found that Israel violates basic human rights of Palestinian people on a massive scale, including torture, imprisonment without charges or trial, land confiscation, harassment at checkpoints, and unwarranted civilian shootings.
According to the United Nations Charter, Article 2(4) and 51 (1945); the Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations, Principle 1 (1970), obtaining territory through coercion is a crime punishable by international law. Israel seized territory that had been captured under force during the 1948 and 1967 wars (territories that weren’t included in the UN 1947–1948 partition plan). Armed incursions and actions are authorized if they occur out in self-defence or to assist the indigenous populace directly. Nevertheless, investigations indicate that Israel is not merely preserving itself as it imposes de-facto annexation across occupied land through its settlements and separation barrier, seizing over 70% of the occupied territories and their natural resources for its use and economic advantage at the expense of the native inhabitants.
Violations of UNSC Resolution
28 UN Security Council resolutions including 54, 111, 233, 234, 236, 248, 250, 252, 256, 262, 267, 270, 280, 298, 313, 316, 468, 476, and many more—about Israel’s occupations, land annexations, military aggression, human rights violations, and other offences have been breached by Israel. These resolutions are legally binding on member nations under the U.N. Charter, Article 25 (1945).
The demands of Resolution 446, which was approved on March 22, 1979, incorporate that Israel evacuate all existing Jewish settlements and stop constructing additional colonies in the parts of Palestine it has occupied since 1967, particularly East Jerusalem. Based on current data, there are about 3,54,00 illegal Israeli colonies in West Jerusalem compared to just 5,000 Palestinian Settlements. Conversely, 2,36,600 Israeli settlers have surrounded East Jerusalem. Additionally, it has concluded that Israel’s settlement-building policies and practices in Palestinian and other Arab territories it has occupied since 1967 are illegal and seriously impede efforts toward bringing about a comprehensive, just, and lasting cease-fire in the Middle East. Furthermore, it reaffirms the demand that Israel, acting as the occupier of Palestine, strictly conform to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, reverse any previous actions, and abstain from acting in a way that would alter the legal status, the geographical nature, or demographic composition of the Arab territories it has occupied since 1967, including the capital of Palestine; Jerusalem in particular, it calls for that Israel shut down from relocating portions of its civilian population into the occupied Arab territories.
Violations of Geneva Conventions
The Israeli military has been using massive force against the entire Palestinian communities in response to the Arab rebellion. Some of the actions executed include demolishing the entire communities of homes, taking communal land for cultivation, bulldozing places of residence, closing off specific areas, and preventing innocent people from leaving their homes for extended periods. Because it penalizes whole populations for the actions of a few collective penalties that have blatantly violated Article 33 (1949); Geneva Conventions (Protocol I); and Article 75(2d) (1977), known as collective punishment.
Since 1910, Zionists and Israel have taken ownership of Palestinian land, displacing indigenous communities and denying Palestinian landowners and tenants the right to live or work on their land. After the 1948 and 1967 wars, Palestinian residents were denied the “right of return” and were forced to move to smaller sections of each nation. After the war ended, the Israeli government imposed laws and used violence to prevent 750,000 Palestinian citizens from returning to their homes. This violates the UN resolutions directing them to honour the right of Palestinians to return to their homes. A breach of international law and the UN resolutions occurs when civilian populations are denied the right to return home after an armed war has ended. Israeli citizens live in hundreds of settlements on occupied land not originally given to them in the UN Partition Plan, displacing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. It is illegal to colonize occupied land or transfer non-indigenous populations to that land.
Violations of guidelines laid down by the International Court of Justice
Israel’s separation barrier snakes its way through the West Bank, isolating Palestinians from the rest of the population, their possessions, personnel, places of worship, and medical care. The wall takes enormous amounts of land and annexes further space in Israel. The court said: “The construction of the wall being built by Israel, the occupying power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and its associated regime are contrary to international law.” “Israel is under an obligation to make reparation for all damage caused by the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem.”
In 2004, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion ruling that Israel’s separation barriers are illegal. In a 14-1 ruling, they denounced Israel’s construction of a separation wall throughout the occupied West Bank. The Court cited, concerning Article 2, paragraph 4 of the UN Charter and General Assembly Resolution 2625 (XXV), the principles of the prohibition of the threat or use of force, in addition to the unconstitutionality of any territorial acquisition by such means, as reflected in standard international law. It is worth mentioning that the separation barrier effectively annexes considerable tracts of land. It also refers to the idea of people’s self-determination, outlined in the Charter and reaffirmed by Resolution 2625 (XXV).
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantees the territory’s inhabitants the right to free movement, and the Court finds that the wall’s construction and the regime that goes alongside it contravene relevant provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention and The Hague Regulations of 1907. In addition, they make it more challenging for the individuals in question to exercise their fundamental entitlements to work, education, health, and a living standard that is needed, as stated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.
Israel has resisted joining the International Criminal Court (ICC) and has used its influence and the US to delay taking accusations against it seriously. Israel denies the court’s authority to try Israel or its citizens and avoids discussing the merits of Palestinian claims. The first defence was that the Rome Statute does not apply to Israel, as it was not a sovereign state during its occupation of Palestine. The Palestinian National Authority (PA) delayed demanding the ICC investigate Israel, while Israel exerted significant pressure and threatened to withhold accusations from the PA from the ICC. Israel declared that any attempt by the PA to file a complaint with the ICC would be seen as hostile activity and would result in repercussions, such as the cessation of the transfer of taxes and customs fees.
“The starving of civilians as a method of warfare, which is a violation of international humanitarian law and a war crime,” declares Article 8(2)(b)(xxv) of the Statute of the International Criminal Court. As demonstrated by Israel’s strikes on the Gaza Strip, deliberately targeting civilian population can be a “crime against humanity,” and the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) continued silence on the subject is “utterly unacceptable.” Israel has committed a significant breach of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) by using white phosphorus in its attacks on Gaza, citing the material’s “indiscriminate nature” and potential harm to civilians.
Violations of Hague Regulations
By replacing all Arab government functions with Israeli military committees and dismissing or deporting all Arab government officials, Israel has violated IV, Article 43 (1907) of The Hague Regulation by establishing a dual legal system in the occupied territories: an oppressive and exploitative one for the Palestinian communities run by Israeli military committees and Israeli-controlled civic administrations, and a democratic one linked to Israel for its settlements. This is a major unlawful alteration and modification of local laws.
Violations of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.
The State of Israel has a codified system of sanctioned discrimination against Palestinian Arabs, which legally fulfils the official UN definition of Apartheid. Israel’s system of exploitation, oppression, and isolation of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories, as well as its system of discrimination against them across society, perfectly matches the official UN definition of apartheid, which is recognized as a crime against humanity. The Israeli parliament passed legislation that, with certain exceptions, forbade wives of Arab-Israeli citizens residing in occupied territories from reuniting with their families in Israel which supported the continuation of the family, only of the Jewish community. This rule goes against the fundamental values of equality, human dignity, and personal freedom that are inherent in the fundamental law, as well as the right of a child to live with both of their parents, all of which are guaranteed by human rights treaties that Israel has signed.
Genocide is the most serious international crime, involving the killing or deliberately inflicting conditions of life to destroy a group, including on ethnic or national grounds. Israeli government figures have used demeaning terms like “human animals” and declared their intent to exterminate the Palestinian people, who have been denied access to water, food, fuel, power, medical care, and other necessities. The Israeli regime has also bombarded peaceful neighbourhoods, civilian communities, and infrastructure with chemical weapons. These declarations of intent, mass homicide, terrible psychological and physical damage, total siege, and closure that devised living conditions for the group’s physical destruction, reveal evidence of an unfolding crime of genocide. The Western nations, which are usually quick to punish those who violate international legal norms, have not done the same with Israel, even though every Israeli administration to date has been violating Palestinian rights, which is rather remarkable. The attitudes of elites in Europe and the US will inevitably shift gradually as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to polarise Western countries. Discussions on the classification of Israel’s activities as ethnic cleansing or genocide serve as a pointless diversion from the reality of a mass catastrophe involving flagrant breaches of international law.