Statement of Appeal and Condemnation for the Bombing of the Palestinian Bar Association Headquarters in Gaza City
The Palestinian Bar Association represents the legal and professional community in Palestine, with its lawyers being an integral part of the justice system.
The association was established with the primary goal of organizing the legal profession in Palestine, managing its affairs, and enacting the necessary regulations to govern its practice. It also works to promote the principle of the rule of law in Palestinian society by spreading a culture of proper legal application and overseeing law enforcement agencies to ensure the establishment of a civil society governed by law and order.
The association also provides legal services to those in need who cannot access them due to the challenging economic circumstances. The association was founded in July 1997 by a decision issued by the head of the Palestinian National Authority, number (78/97), with the mandate to unify the previously existing union bodies and draft a law regulating the association, submit it to the legislative council, and hold elections to choose members of the association’s council, The Palestinian Bar Association Law was issued by the Palestinian Legislative Council No. (3) of 1999 and Law No. (5) of (1999).
In April 2003, the first elections were held, where a union council consisting of 15 members elected nine members in the northern governorates and six members in the southern governorates. Since At that time, elections are held periodically. The Palestinian Bar Association carries out its work through two centers according to the law: the Jerusalem center, and it carries out its work in the city of Ramallah, and the Gaza center, and it carries out its work through three headquarters in Gaza, Khan Yunis, and Rafah. The Bar’s headquarters was established in Gaza City in 2012 in the Al- Rimal area next to civil institutions such as the Ministry of Justice and the General Personnel Office, after the previous headquarters did not meet the requirements for providing services to lawyers and citizens, on land that had previously been allocated by the President of the Palestinian National Authority, Yasser Arafat, for Building a permanent headquarters for the Bar , But unfortunately, after the division, and political problems in Gaza , the Gaza government canceled the allocation and converted it to a rent determined by the Land Authority. The Bar pays an annual rent to the Land Authority.
A basement and first floor were constructed from lawyers’ funds. Due to the Bar’s need for additional offices, as the Bar has been providing legal assistance to vulnerable and poor groups since 2011 through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), funded by several countries in the European Union, and it has a specialized staff to provide the service, the union applied for funding to build two additional floors, and it was approved. The two-storey building was funded by the Federal State of Germany. The Bar built two other floors as training halls for lawyers as a nucleus for the training institute for trainee lawyers. Funding was obtained from the European Union to furnish the halls and establish a library to serve lawyers. “Due to the difficult situation in the Gaza Strip, continuous power outages, and their impact on the services provided by the Bar Association to lawyers and Civilian citizens, whereas the Bar plays the role of the Ministry of Interior and provides great services to all the Palestinian people by a decision issued by the Palestinian Council of Ministers , we submitted a project to install solar energy from the Turkish organization TIKA. Approval was granted, and solar panels were installed in June 2023, four months ago.
However, on the evening of yesterday, October 9, 2023, we were surprised by the Israeli occupation forces bombing the Bar Association building in Gaza City, completely destroying it. It is well known that this building belongs to the Bar Association, a civil professional institution that provides services to its members and Civilian citizens. This act is considered a violation of international law, legal protection, and the laws established by the International Bar Association in 1992.
This action will limit the Bar Association’s ability to fulfill its professional and national duties towards lawyers and civilian citizens.
The Palestinian Bar Association affirms that the collective punishments carried out by the occupying state constitute a clear violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits collective punishments and all measures of threat and terrorism and measures of retaliation against defenseless persons and their property.
The acts of destruction practiced by Israel on a large scale violate Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the occupying state from destroying any private, immovable or movable property related to individuals, groups, the state, or public authorities.
And the ongoing violations and attacks carried out by Israel against cultural objects and places of worship; It is a violation of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property, which prohibits exposing this property to any type of attack in the event of armed conflict and stresses the necessity of preserving it.
Since Israel is violating more than 12 international agreements and resolutions and is abusing the Palestinians, especially civilians and legal professionals, since the beginning of the war on Gaza on : October 7, 2023, a number of lawyers and a judge have been killed by Israeli occupation bullets while they are in their homes, safe and defenseless.
These Crimes require the immediate and urgent intervention of the international community, which must compel Israel to fulfill its international legal obligations. It should also put the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on alert to an intent by Israel to incite and carry out the most heinous international crimes against civilians.
and in response to these Crimes and blatant attack on a legal civil institution, the Palestinian Bar Association Calls for Immediate Action from the International Legal Community to call on the international community to urgently intervene and Stop Israel’s Reprisals against Palestinian Civilians.
Palestinian Bar Association