In a statement to the Israeli press Monday, a senior Israeli official claimed that the collective punishment of the entire Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip was an effective way to curb Palestinian homemade rocket attacks, stating that Palestinians “got the message”. Despite the fact that such collective punishment of an entire population is explicitly illegal under international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, and despite the fact that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are an occupied people, and are thus entitled to a special 'protected' status under United Nations regulations, the Israeli occupying authorities have continually attempted to justify measures which punish the entire Palestinian population for the actions of a few.
Said the unnamed senior Israeli military official, in an interview with the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahranot, "We got the message across. Hamas understood the equation: A continuation of the rocket fire would lead to Israeli pressure against armed groups and civilians. We do not plan to cause a humanitarian catastrophe, but they now realize they will not get fuel or other luxuries as well.”
Many Palestinians disagree with the designation of fuel as a luxury, given that the fuel cutoff has made it impossible to maintain operation of hospitals and clinics, and a number of patients have died as a result. Communications between emergency personnel have been affected, and the sick and elderly have been suffering through a severely cold winter without access to heat.
Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention forbids collective punishment and states that a person shall not be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. This article explicitly relates to administrative punishment imposed on persons or groups because of acts that they did not personally commit. Article 50 of the Hague Regulations states a comparable prohibition.
Israeli policies in the Gaza Strip continue to target the entire population of 1.5 million people as punishment for homemade rockets fired toward Israel by a few Palestinian resistance fighters.
The Israeli military source quoted in the Israeli paper Monday made clear that the collective punishment of the Palestinian population in Gaza will continue, stating, “Only an end to rocket fire would enable a return to normal life in the Gaza Strip."