Status of Palestinian Territories and Palestinian Society under Israeli Occupation

I. Israel and International Humanitarian Law in Light of the Fourth Geneva Convention

According to Article 42 of The Hague Regulations; a 'Territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army. The occupation applies only to the territory where such authority is established, and in a position to assert itself.'

In 1967, the Israeli army occupied the Palestinian Territories and took effective control over it. Since then, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, constitute Occupied Territories; whereas its Palestinian citizens are considered 'Protected Persons' under Article 4 of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (Fourth Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949).
Israel ratified the Fourth Geneva Convention in 1951. Furthermore, Article 35 of Israeli Military Proclamation No. 3 ordered that Israeli military courts and officers were bound by the provisions of the conventions; however, on the October 22, 1967, the proclamation was amended and Article 35 was canceled by Military Order No. 144. Israel since that date has insisted that the convention is not applicable to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
Israel claims that its presence in the OPT is as an 'Administrator', in that way holding its authorities completely unaccountable to the Fourth Geneva Convention, for it refuses to acknowledge the Convention's de jure application to any of the Occupied Territories.  However, Israel said it will comply de facto with the Convention's humanitarian provisions in administering the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but the applicable provisions have never been specified.1
Israel argues that its 'Occupation' is simply a reaction to aggression or a means of self-defense, but it is in fact an expression of a pro-active policy of de facto annexation that began immediately after the 1967-war. However, the legal and international opinions insist on the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Conventions to the Palestinian Territories as an 'Occupied Land'.
The UNSC Resolution 799, on December 18, 1992 clearly Reaffirms the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949 to all the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem, and affirms that deportation of civilians constitutes a contravention of its obligations under the Convention.2

Moreover, since the beginning of its occupation of the Palestinian Territories in 1967, Israel's military authorities have issued over hundreds of military orders to change the pre-existing laws, and to effectively extend military jurisdiction over the OPT.3 Almost every element of Israel's occupation of the Palestinian Territories violates a provision of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Many of Israel's violations are grave breaches of the Convention and are considered 'War Crimes' under International Law.


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