On Wednesday 5 August 2009 Mr.
Issam Younis, the director of Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, testified before the United Nation Committee to Investigate the Israeli Practices Affecting the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.
Younis talked about the December 2008 - January 2009 Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip, codenamed Operation Cast Lead.
He spoke about the Israeli violations of IHRL and IHL; especially the willful killing of civilians committed by the IOF during this offensive.
He also described the IOF shelling to the homes while their residents inside them and the shooting of civilians while holding white flags.
Younis also talked about the IOF use of weapons prohibited by international law in residential areas, such as white phosphorus.
He also pointed out the pattern of IOF's use of excessive and arbitrary force without distinction or apparent military necessity.
Moreover, he talked about Al Mezan's documentation of the IOF's use of civilians as human shields, targeting medical personnel, preventing medical access for wounded people, refraining from helping civilians who were injured from IOF fire, and targeting UN personnel and facilities during this offensive.
The number of casualties and injuries among civilians increased significantly as a result of IOF's disregard of the rules of international law applicable to armed conflict.
In his testimony, Mr.
Younis also talked about the Israeli siege and blockade of Gaza, which have been imposed for years.
Israel allows limited amounts of humanitarian aid, mainly food and medicine, into Gaza while preventing most import and all exports.
Vital commodities like fuel, construction materials, industrial raw materials, paper, and spare parts are prohibited.
Therefore, it is impossible to start any rehabilitation and reconstruction of the infrastructure or homes and other private and public proprieties that IOF destroyed before and during the offensive.
Younis emphasized that the closure and blockade represent one of the cruelest measures of collective punishment that have nothing to do with the security of the occupation forces, but has everything to do with exerting pressure for political reasons.
These serious violations continue under parallel the silence on the part of the international community, which have failed to take any effective actions to bring to an end the unlawful collective punishment of 1.
5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Younis stressed the importance of multiply the efforts to pursue the Israelis who perpetrated war crimes or ordered them.
He also called the international community to provide effective protection for Palestinian civilians in OPT.