In 2014, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled that Israel should be considered an occupying power in Gaza, despite the fact that every Israeli soldier and civilian was removed nine years earlier. The ICC’s conclusion is frequently echoed by various UN bodies as well as journalists and politicians; as Gilead Sher and Dana Wolf explain, it is patently absurd:
Article 42 of the 1907 Hague Regulations outlines legal requirements for occupation, which include the physical existence of hostile troops in an area, so that the legitimate government is incapable of exercising effective powers of government. Conversely, military withdrawal is a prerequisite for clearly demarcating the end of occupation. As such, never since the enactment of the Hague Regulations has an occupation been recognized without a foreign army present. [Yet] the international community still erroneously perceives the [Gaza] Strip as a territory under Israel’s responsibility, . . . without consideration of the fact that Israel does not meet the basic criteria of an “occupier” under international law. . . .
This is why the international community should intervene and amend the legal distortion that has been perpetuated since Israel’s disengagement from Gaza. It should explicitly declare that Israel’s occupation of Gaza has ended. In exchange for such a formal declaration, Israel should [offer to] join the international effort to rehabilitate Gaza under careful security measures, [with] international coordination and supervision. Israel could further propose that if, as a result of successful rehabilitation, Hamas’s attacks on Israel subside for an extended period, it would seriously consider the alleviation of the closure of the Strip in coordination with Egypt, and the construction of a Gaza seaport. Everyone would benefit except the terrorist groups in Gaza.