The recorded webinar is found at the bottom of this article.
It is widely alleged that Israel is responsible for turning Gaza from an “open-air prison” into an “open-air grave”.
In this webinar Prof. Chris de Cock (Brussels and Ghent) and Dr. Elai Rettig (Bar Ilan University) explain the application of international humanitarian law (IHL) to the alleged “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza.
1. The Gaza Strip is not occupied territory. Israel withdrew its civilians and military from Gaza in 2005. The blockade that has been in place since Hamas came to power in 2007 does not constitute occupation. This means that Israel is not subject to the humanitarian obligations applicable to occupying powers under IHL.
2. It is Hamas, not Israel, that is primarily responsible for the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza. Hamas was elected as government of Gaza in 2007. It is Hamas, as de facto government, that is primarily responsible for providing essential services to the civilian population in Gaza.
3. Israel’s provision of water and electricity to Gaza in recent years was entirely voluntary. Israel was/is not obliged to provide water or electricity to Gaza.
4. The “siege” imposed by Israel after the horrendous 7 October attack was entirely legitimate. Sieges are a legitimate form of warfare, provided they are not intended to starve the civilian population. Israel’s cutting off of water, electricity and fuel was intended (and effective) not to starve the population but to prevent Hamas from carrying out unlawful aggression.
5. Israel provides only 10% of the water in Gaza. In any event, Israel has since reconnected its water supply to Gaza.
6. Concerning water, the biggest problem facing Gaza is the supply of diesel to run the generators for the desalination plants. It seems there is sufficient diesel in Gaza. Hamas has stockpiled diesel.
7. Israel called upon civilians in Gaza City to temporarily evacuate to the south of Gaza. This was a necessary and entirely legitimate exercise of its obligation to protect the civilian population – in light of the fact that Israel is compelled to attack the military operations that Hamas has deliberately installed under hospitals, schools, etc
8. Hamas also is obliged to move civilians from zones of hostility. It is not doing so; on the contrary it is using its civilians as human shields.
9. Israel is entitled to prevent supplies coming in via Rafah Gate if it reasonably believes they will be misused by Hamas.
Gaza electricity maps: