Extract from September 2003 report "Israel and the Occupied
Territories: Survving under siege"
According to international law, an occupying power is required to
administer the territory it controls as far as possible without
making far-reaching changes to the existing order, while at the
same time ensuring the protection of the fundamental rights of the
inhabitants of the occupied territory. The core idea of the
international rule of belligerent occupation is that occupation is
transitional, for a limited period, and one of its key aims is to
enable the inhabitants of an occupied territory to live as "normal"
a life as possible.
The duties of an occupying power include:
- treating the occupied population humanely at all times (Article
27, IV Geneva Convention);
- ensure the food and medical supplies of the occupied population
(Article 55, IV Geneva Convention);
- ensure and maintain the medical services, public health and
hygiene in the occupied territory, and ensuring that medical
personnel of all categories can carry out their duties (Article 56,
IV Geneva Convention);
- allow and facilitate relief for the occupied population (Article
59, IV Geneva Convention).
Relief provided by others in no way relieves the occupying power of
any of its responsibilities under Articles 55, 56 and 59 (Article
61, IV Geneva Convention).
An occupying power may NOT:
- use collective punishment or intimidation against the occupied
population (Article 33, IV Geneva Convention);
- forcibly transfer inhabitants of the occupied territory to its
territory or elsewhere nor transfer parts of its civilian
population into the territory it occupies (Article 49, IV Geneva
- take measures aiming at creating unemployment or at restricting
employment opportunities in the occupied territory, in order to
induce the occupied population to work for the occupying power
(Article 52, IV Geneva Convention);
- destroy private or public property, except where absolutely
necessary for military operations (Article 53, IV Geneva
- appropriating private or public property or natural resources,
for which the occupying power shall be regarded only as
administrator (Article 55, Hague Regulations).