12th September 2006 is the 1st anniversary of the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the removal of all Israeli settlements.
One year after the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip, whereby Israel attempted to mislead the international community into believing that it had relinquished its control over the Gaza Strip, the field facts unequivocally prove that the legal status of the Gaza Strip, that of an occupied territory, has not changed.
The Israeli governmental document detailing the disengagement plan itself evidenced Israel's intention to continue domination of the Gaza Strip, when Israel therein granted itself the right to maintain control over the Gaza's borders, airspace and coastline.
According to field facts, since the implementation of the Israeli disengagement plan the number of Palestinian victims, and the size of material loss of property, has increased, due to ongoing and systematic Israeli violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
These violations have shown not only that Gaza remains under the control of Israel, but also that Israel continues to commit war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
Israel has continued to maintain full control over the borders separating Gaza from Israel and Egypt.
Israel has used its control over the border as a measurement to collectively punish Palestinians, preventing them from being able to travel, including patients in serious need of undergoing surgery outside the Gaza Strip.
Furthermore, Israel has imposed severe restrictions on the movement of goods, preventing food and medical supplies to the Strip.
These measures have suspended any possible revival of the Gaza Strip economy.
Israel has additionally continued the blockade of Palestinian airspace, maintaining the permanent closure of Gaza International Airport, and the construction of Gaza’s seaport has also been prevented by Israel.
These practices have transformed the Gaza Strip into an effective prison and threaten to cause humanitarian disasters in the area, particularly after the shelling and destruction of all electricity networks in the Strip, the halting of funds from donor countries to the PNA, and the withholding of tax and customs owed to the PNA by Israel.
Since the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, 362 Palestinians, including 64 children, have been killed, and around 1,325 others injured, two thirds of them children.
50 Palestinians were killed in assassination operations, which also killed 27 innocent bystanders.
Furthermore, 1,556 dunums of agricultural land were bulldozed, 88 houses inhabited by 741 persons, including 355 children, were totally destroyed, and 741 houses lived in by 3,676 persons, including 1,768 children, were partially destroyed.
The IOF also destroyed 25 commercial premises, 7 of which were entirely destroyed, 27 vehicles, four water wells, and 51 public institutions, including ten which were totally destroyed and 3 others badly damaged.
In the context of the IOF policy of collective punishment and continued closure of the Gaza Strip, Rafah Terminal was totally closed for 132 days, while Karni Crossing, the sole economic crossing of Gaza was totally closed for 176 days.
On days when they were opened, both crossings operated at a capacity of not more than 25% of the opening times that were maintained before 28 September 2000.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights emphasizes that since the implementation of the unilateral disengagement plan, the IOF have continued the deliberate targeting of Palestinian civilians, use of excessive and disproportionate force, extrajudicial assassinations of Palestinians, leveling of agricultural land and shelling of civilian premises, civilian houses and public institutions.
The IOF have also committed unprecedented crimes targeting essential and vital establishments, such as the shelling of the only electricity network and its transformers in the Gaza Strip, as well as bridges in different parts of the Gaza Strip.
Al Mezan reaffirms its previous position regarding the unilateral disengagement plan, that the implementation of this plan will not change the legal status of Gaza, which remains an occupied territory.
The Center calls upon the international community to continue viewing Gaza as an occupied territory, and ensure that the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War is complied with.
Al Mezan also urges the international community, notably the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to immediately intervene to halt Israeli war crimes, provide protection to Palestinian civilians in the OPT, and bring to justice the perpetrators and those who ordered the crimes that have been committed in Gaza.