Israel’s assault on the Jenin refugee camp a violation of international law

Source: CityNews

According to United Nations’ sources, recent Israeli air strikes and ground operations targeting the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, may prima facie constitute a war crime.1

The Israeli attacks on 3rd and 4th July 2023 that lasted for around 48 hours, killed at least 12 Palestinians, including five children, and injured more than 100 Palestinians.  The attacks caused widespread damage to infrastructure, houses and apartment buildings and forced around 4,000 Palestinians, already refugees, to flee for their safety.

The United Nations has pointed to multiple reports of ambulances being prevented from accessing the refugee camp in order to evacuate the wounded, impeding their access to medical assistance.

The latest attack has been described as the fiercest since the destruction of the Jenin refugee camp by Israeli forces in 2002.

Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories, was interviewed by Patricia Karvelas on ABC’s RN Breakfast on 6th July 2023.

In this interview, Francesca Albanese emphasised the following:

  • The Israeli raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank has been the most lethal and largest in 20 years with aerial and ground attacks against an entire refugee camp.
  • Israeli occupation operates outside of what is permitted under international law and is maintained to advance a colonial enterprise. The seizing of Palestinian occupied land and its resources, is, in itself, an international crime.
  • The Palestinian right to resist unlawful occupation is the flipside of the right to self-determination, which is clearly violated by Israeli occupation.
  • Israel is confusing the security of its territory with the security of its annexation plans. On the one hand it pushes for annexation, on the other hand it justifies its excessive use of force as self-defense.2

The views expressed by Francesca Albanese were a welcome corrective to the propaganda produced by Israeli government representatives and their local apologists in relation to this gross violation of international law.

In response to this latest attack by Israeli forces on Palestinian refugees, the Albanese Labor government needs to take a stand consistent with UN resolutions and international law and:

  • condemn the Israeli assault on the Jenin refugee camp;
  • always refer to the the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip that have been militarily occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967 as the Occupied Palestinian Territories;
  • consistently reject the Israeli government’s maintenance and extension of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including recent plans to expand settlements in the West Bank by the extremist Netanyahu coalition government.

We await a clear and principled response to the above violations of international law by the Albanese government.

1. OHCHR, ‘Israeli air strikes and ground operations in Jenin may constitute war crime: UN experts’, Press Release, 5th July 2023.
2. An edited transcript of the interview with Francesca Albanese can be accessed here.

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