Occupation and the Fourth Geneva Convention


Page last updated 26 Jun 2015

Introduction

Everything, but everything, concerning the occupation has to be looked at in the light of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Israel’s multiple breaches of its provisions. The full text of the document is entitled Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949. It was signed by Israel in 1951. As the International Committee of the Red Cross, the custodian of the Geneva Conventions, explains:

The Convention adopted in 1949 takes account of the experiences of World War II. It contains a rather short part concerning the general protection of populations against certain consequences of war (Part II), leaving aside the problem of the limitation of the use of weapons. The great bulk of the Convention (Part III – Articles 27-141) puts forth the regulations governing the status and treatment of protected persons; these provisions distinguish between the situation of foreigners on the territory of one of the parties to the conflict and that of civilians in occupied territory.

This document together with the earlier Geneva Conventions sets the framework for what is known as International Humanitarian Law. Many organisations and individuals work in the field and there are numerous guides to the area. See for example the ICRC overview Challenges to international humanitarian law: Israel’s occupation policy by its President Peter Maurer (Dec 2012), the Swedish organisation Diakonia’s The applicability of IHL in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the Review of the Applicability of International Humanitarian Law to the Occupied Palestinian Territory by the Harvard Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research International Humanitarian Law Research Initiative (Jul 2004) and our own factsheet Israel and International Law (Aug 2005), where the illustrations of breaches could be multiplied manyfold with more recent examples.

As well as identifying as whole series of rights and prohibitions e.g. to humane treatment and protection of property, to the prohibition of the use of torture or physical suffering, or of collective punishment, to protection against deportation, or to imprisonment without due process,  etc, Article 147 specifies ‘grave breaches’ of the Convention as including willful killing; torture or inhuman treatment; willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health; unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person; willfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial; taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly. Clearly there is a prima facie case that Israel is guilty of such grave breaches…

We’ve singled out a number of areas for separate treatment, but remember that the division into the headings below is somewhat arbitrary as there is a huge overlap between the topics. Almost all involve violations of human rights and justice. You may well find something relevant to any particular topic you are interested in under one of the other headings as well.

The headings we’ve used are:

Israel’s Human Rights Violations
Settlement Building and Land Issues
Restrictions on Movement
House Demolitions, Forced Displacement and Denial of Residency Rights
Justice
The Wall
The Green Line
Water
Health
Education
The economics of the occupation

 


Contents of this section

2. THE OCCUPATION

a) Maps of the occupation
b) Occupation and the Fourth Geneva Convention

Israel’s human rights violations – an introduction
Settlement building and land issues
Restrictions on movement
House demolitions, forced displacement, denial of residency rights
Justice
The Wall
The Green Line
Water
Health
Education
The economics of the occupation

c) Gaza under occupation
d) Living under occupation

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