For Immediate Release
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167
As Attacks on Gaza Continue
Just back in the U.S. and available for a limited number of interviews with major media, Falk is the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Last month he was denied entry to Israel.
He said today: "It is irresponsible to exclude Hamas from international participation in UN and other diplomatic discussions relating to a ceasefire; Hamas demands for unconditional Israeli withdrawal, immediate ceasefire, and an opening of all crossings (i.e. lifting the blockade) are reasonable, deserve to be accepted, and accord with international law; to discount the relevance by labeling [it a] 'terrorist organization' is extremely dysfunctional from the perspective of conflict resolution, as it would be to call Israel 'a terrorist state.'"
A statement by Falk was delivered today to the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva.
Falk is professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and currently visiting professor at Chapman Law School. He is the author of dozens of books including "The Costs of War: International Law, the UN, and World Order after Iraq."
Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire has released a statement, indicating that she has written to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, and Father Miguel D'Escoto, president of United Nations General Assembly, "adding her voice to the many calls from International Jurists, human rights organizations, and individuals, for the UN General Assembly to seriously consider establishing an International Criminal Tribunal for Israel (ICTI) in view of the ongoing Israeli atrocities against the people of Gaza and Palestine. An ICTI can be established by the UN General Assembly as a 'subsidiary organ' under article 22 of the UN Charter."
Maguire said: "In November 2008 I visited Gaza and was shocked at the suffering of the people of Gaza, being under 'siege' as they are for over two years. This collective punishment by the Israeli government, has led to a great humanitarian crisis. Collective punishment of the civilian community by the Israeli government breaks the Geneva Convention, is illegal and is a war crime and crime against humanity."
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A Palestinian attorney and human rights activist based in Jerusalem, Kuttab is currently in the Washington, D.C. area. He said today: "Anyone vaguely familiar with international law, or human rights principles recognizes that the siege and blockade of Gaza, which Israel has been carrying out for 18 month PRIOR to the present hostilities, is illegal and a gross violation of international law." In December, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a which Israel, the U.S. and a few other nations voted against.
Reached in Egypt, just outside Gaza, Rizk told the Institute for Public Accuracy today: "Two buses with activists I am with were just turned back by about 300 armed Egyptian security forces. We are now returning to Cairo to hold a news conference. The Egyptian government should be allowing journalists and doctors and substantial aid and medicine into Gaza. They should be allowing injured Palestinians out. Egypt is playing a part in the siege of Gaza in parallel with Israel's siege."
Rizk lived in Gaza for two years working with various NGOs and media companies. He is currently studying at the American University in Cairo and working as a free-lance journalist. The past weeks he has been coordinating to get medical supplies into Gaza.
He wrote to the Institute for Public Accuracy on Wednesday: "Gaza is almost totally sealed, there are occasional medical shipments getting in and a fortunate few people getting out to Egypt who need medical help. The Israelis have since November blocked journalists, NGOs, a UN rapporteur. The phones are almost totally out; after trying to reach anyone all day, I managed to reach Dr. Attalah Tarazi, a surgeon at the Al-Shifaa Hospital, the main hospital in Gaza City on Tuesday. He told me that a significant majority of dead and injured he had seen that day were civilians and a majority were women or children and the numbers were higher than what is being widely reported. (He said that some people have recently come with unprecedented types of injuries accompanied with a unique odor. This may a consequence of some type of chemical agent by Israel, such as white phosphorus, but that certainly can't be confirmed.) He said Gaza City has been without water or electricity for three days."
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