On 5 March 2008, Al Mezan received a nine-member delegation, including the Regional Director for Diakonia in the Middle East and members of Diakonia’s International Humanitarian Law Programme and the programme’s International Advisory Board, which included a Member of the Swedish Parliament, and a British scholar.
Professor Iain Scobbie led a lecture for the delegation.
Professor Scobbie is the Sir Joseph Hotung Research Professor in Law, Human Rights and Peace Building in the Middle East and Director of the eponymous programme at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).
The delegation was received by the Director of Al Mezan, Mr.
Issam Younis, and the Center's Communications and International Relations Coordinator, Mr.
Mahmoud Abu Rahma.
Younis briefed the delegation on the human rights situation in the Gaza Strip, and gave special attention to recent events.
Last week, the IOF escalated its aggression in the Strip and 120 citizens were killed, most of them civilians.
Furthermore, the IOF caused widespread destruction in areas it penetrated or targeted by shelling.
Younis criticized the ongoing international silence towards the IOF's serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, as much of the latest attacks amount to war crimes.
Al Mezan continues to call for urgent intervention from the international community to protect civilians and private property, and to bring the perpetrators of such crimes to justice.
The members of the delegation voiced their condemnation of the IOF's conduct in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
They further stressed the need of human rights defenders locally and worldwide to confront the international silence that fails to condemn and challenge the IOF's atrocities and its policy of collective punishment on the Strip.
In addition, Al Mezan Center organized a lecture entitled “The developments of the situation in Gaza from an International Humanitarian Law perspective”.
This lecture was a part of Al Mezan and Diakonia's partnership on a project, "Promoting International Humanitarian Law in Gaza".
Professor Iain Scobbie gave the two-hour lecture for a group of journalists, lawyers, human rights workers, and civil society members.
Professor Scobbie focused on the protection of civilians under international humanitarian law, highlighting the seriousness of Israeli conduct particularly after the Israeli High Court upheld its one of its key policies recently.
He provided a brief analysis of the Court's recent decision regarding the prevention of fuel supplies and electricity to the Gaza Strip, saying that its ruling did not provide a legal basis for the policy, which runs contrary to the Fourth Geneva Convention, Additional Protocol 1, and customary international law.
International law obliges the IOF to fulfill the basic humanitarian needs for the civilian population, not the "minimum" humanitarian needs, as stated in the Court's aforementioned decision.
Professor Scobbie showed that the Israeli Court proceeds blindly and imitates American courts, which failed to end crimes committed at Guantanamo and other crimes.
The decisions made by the Israeli High Court reflect clearly that it lost its "judicial mind.
" Professor Scobbie refuted the Court's decisions, in particular the Israeli claims that it is not responsible for the population and its needs in the Gaza Strip after the Disengagement Plan (2005).
He also countered Israeli's further claims that it is not occupying the Strip, rather the current situation is one of armed conflict.
Pointing out that an armed conflict does not reject the possibility of occupation to exist, Scobbie referred to the German occupation of France and Poland during the Second World War.
Additionally, he mentioned the recent military operation called "Hot Winter", which included serious violations committed by the IOF.
Some of these violations are war crimes, which include attacking civilians, besieging civilians, and destroying their homes, contrary to the basic international humanitarian law principles of Military Necessity, Proportionality and Discrimination, and in violation of customary international humanitarian law and the IOF's own military handbook.
The IOF violated its military law, as stipulated in its handbook, which contradicts customary international rules and regulations in this regard.
Professor Scobbie encouraged Palestinians to go to foreign and international courts to seek the prosecution of Israeli leaders for their crimes and violations committed against civilians.
At the end of his lecture, Professor Scobbie answered the questions posed by the participants.