During times of war, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the terminology used by various parties involved. The Israel-Hamas conflict is no exception, with its complex historical background and ongoing dynamics. This article aims to provide a fresh perspective by defining and contextualizing some of the terms commonly used in relation to this conflict.
Under international law, a territory is considered occupied when it is effectively controlled by a foreign army without the consent of the local government. Several elements need to be considered to determine if the term applies, including the presence of the foreign army, the exercise of powers by the local government, and the control exerted by the occupying forces. Experts in international law argue that Israel has occupied the Gaza Strip, as well as the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Syrian Golan Heights since 1967. Israel maintains control over basic utilities, such as water and electricity, in these territories.
Israeli settlements refer to Israeli communities established in the occupied territories. Over the years, Israeli settlements have been a source of contention and have become increasingly violent towards Palestinians. The West Bank, in particular, has witnessed a rise in violence against Palestinians by Israeli settlers.
Annexation, according to international law, requires the consent of both the occupying and occupied powers. Israel has claimed to have annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights; however, by international standards, this has not been recognized as legitimate annexation since the consent of the occupied powers, such as Palestine and Syria, has not been obtained.
Gaza is a territory that has seen significant conflict and suffering. Although Israel withdrew its settlements from Gaza in 2005, it continues to exercise effective control over the territory. While there is no universal consensus on whether this amounts to an occupation, many experts argue that it meets the criteria under international law. Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza, restricting access to basic goods and limiting the movement of people in and out of the territory.
Occupying powers have specific obligations towards the civilian population in the territories they occupy. These obligations include ensuring public order, safety, hygiene, health standards, and providing food and medical care. They are also prohibited from forcibly transferring the population or exerting collective punishment on the local population. Additionally, occupying powers must allow access to international humanitarian aid.
While not an official term within international humanitarian law, “open-air prison” has been used to describe the living conditions in Gaza. It refers to the control and surveillance that Palestinians in Gaza endure as a result of the Israeli blockade. Palestinians in Gaza face severe restrictions on movement, limited access to basic necessities, and heightened insecurity due to ongoing military conflicts.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: What do the terms “occupation” and “annexation” mean in the context of the Israel-Hamas conflict?
A: In this context, occupation refers to the effective control of a territory by a foreign army without the consent of the local government. Annexation, on the other hand, is the formal incorporation of a territory by a particular state. However, the legitimacy of Israel’s claims of annexation is disputed under international law.
Q: Is Gaza considered an occupied territory?
A: While there is no universal consensus, many experts argue that Gaza meets the criteria for occupation. Israel maintains effective control over Gaza, imposing a blockade and restricting access to basic goods and movement in and out of the territory.
Q: What are the obligations of an occupying power towards the civilian population?
A: Occupying powers are obligated to maintain public order, ensure safety, hygiene, and health standards, provide food and medical care, avoid the forcible transfer of the population, and refrain from collective punishment. They must also allow access to international humanitarian aid.
Q: What are Israeli settlements?
A: Israeli settlements refer to Israeli communities established in the occupied territories, which have been a source of tension and violence in the conflict.
Q: What living conditions do Palestinians in Gaza face?
A: Palestinians in Gaza face restricted movement, limited access to basic necessities, and heightened insecurity due to ongoing military conflicts.