Whether Hostile or Occupied Entity – Civilians Must Not Be Punished

Wed., September 19, 2007 – The decision by the Israeli Cabinet to declare Gaza a "hostile entity" and to order the diminishing of the power and fuel supply is immoral and illegal; constituting prohibited collective punishment of civilians.

Operating rooms, emergency services, sewage pumps and water wells cannot run without electricity. Even intermittently cutting off these services to Gaza’s people will risk the lives and health of 1.5 million people.

Gaza is not an enemy state. Israel continues to exercise significant control over its borders, population registry and tax system and its residents enjoy the protections of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Hague Regulations concerning occupied territory. This is a position shared by the United Nations, the International Red Cross, the European Union, and other members of the international community.

The harsh closure policy implemented by Israel on Gaza since June has destroyed its economy and turned its residents into charity dependents, depriving them of their ability and their right to engage in productive economic activity. These measures have not achieved Israel’s desired political goals.

Irrespective of the question of Gaza’s legal status, deliberately targeting civilians violates the international law principle of distinction.

Noam Peleg, attorney for "Gisha", says that "the Cabinet decision goes against international law which forbids collective punishment. Israel is obliged, even in a state of war, to distinguish in its actions between terrorists and women, men, and innocent children. We would expect that as a reaction to the wrongful targeting of civilians in Sderot, Israel would declare its aversion to deliberately harming civilians, especially children, in Gaza.".