A revised petition of a legal opinion that was submitted to the Israeli High Court of Justice, against the eviction of twelve Palestinians villages from their home so that the army can conduct military training, stated that the Palestinians could have legal grounds to sue Israel at the International Criminal Court, Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported.The petition states that by declaring around 30.000 Dunams in the Southern Hebron Hills as an Israeli live-fire training zone, removing the Palestinian residents from their property, there will be legal grounds for suing Israel.
In the early 1980’s, Israel declared the 30.000 Dunams of Palestinian lands as a live-fire zone, Haaretz, said, while in 1999, the Israeli Army issued orders displacing the Palestinians who live in the area, and even used force to evict some of them.
The Israeli High Court received two petitions against the eviction of the Palestinians, and issued a temporary injunction allowing them to return to their homes, but did not void the army’s illegal decision declaring the area as a live-fire zone.
Haaretz further reported in July of last year, Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, submitted the Ministry’s official decision to the court declaring that Palestinians living in eight of the twelve villages need to be evicted “as they are in the live-fire zone”, and claimed that this area is “crucial for Israeli military drills.”
Barak alleged that the Palestinians who live in these villages “are not permanent residents” as they are mainly Bedouin tribes and shepherds, and added that “the army can remove them as they have no legal status”.
On Wednesday, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, submitted a revised petition on behalf of the residents, as suggested by the court.
Haaretz reported that the revised petition stated that the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the forcible transfer of protected populations from occupied territories, and that even countries that are not signatories to the Convention are even bound by it.
Israel is one of the signatories of the Convention, and even without signing it, the Convention should supersede orders issued by military commanders.
Haaretz added that Professors Eyal Benvenisti, Yuval Shany, and David Kremcher, whose legal opinions were included in the petition, argued that the prohibition on the forcible removal of protected civilian populations living in occupied territories, as stated in the Geneva Convention, became a customary law.
The legal experts also stated that the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court “explicitly grants jurisdiction to the court to look into these cases.”
They said that there are no exceptions, as this prohibition is clear and does not depend on the residency status of the residents, and added that the absoluteness that this prohibition stems from what largely took place during World War II, when massive deportations were widely carried out under different claims.
Furthermore, the Fourth Geneva Convention allows the temporary transfer of civilian populations due to temporary military needs, due to war of or armed conflict, but it does not apply to this case as Israel is not in war, but is creating a military training area.
What Israel is doing is the forcible transfer of a civilian population, even if the army did not need to resort to military force, therefore its action is illegal.