Commission on Human Rights
57th Special Session
Item8 of the provisional agenda
Question of the Violations of Human Rights
in the Occupied Arab Territories, including Palestine
Statement made by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, a non-governmental
organization with Special Consultative Status.
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) firmly believes that, over the course
of the last six months, the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian
Territories has deteriorated rapidly, reaching an all new low.
PCHR also expresses its dismay at Israel's continued occupation and
gross, systematic and massive violations of international human rights and
humanitarian law which have resulted in an escalating human rights and
although the current human rights and humanitarian situation in the Occupied
Palestinian Territories is grave, it
should be recognized that the roots of the current crisis extend beyond the
beginning of the al-Aqsa intifada and owe to the continued Israeli occupation of
the Arab Territories, including Palestine.
Prior to the onset of the al-Aqsa
intifada, Israel's continued occupation and violations of international
human rights and humanitarian law, such as settlement construction and use of
collective punishments, created an explosive situation that ignited with the
provocative visit of Ariel Sharon to the al-Haram
al-Sharif (or the holy sanctuary).
since the beginning of the al-Aqsa
intifada on 29 September 2000, the human rights and humanitarian conditions
within the Occupied Palestinian Territories has become even more grave.
Israeli violations of international human rights and humanitarian law
have been numerous and include:
Use of excessive, unjustified and disproportionate force against
Israel has used heavy weaponry normally employed in full-scale warfare against
Palestinian civilians. This has
occurred during clashes with demonstrators who are either unarmed or using
stones as well as when there were no clashes at all. It has also included bombings of Palestinian residential
areas in the absence of a military threat.
This scale of force is unprecedented since 1967 when Israel first
occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Violations of particular protections accorded to persons enjoying
special status: This includes several categories: children, medical personnel, and
journalists/human rights workers.
1. Children: As of 17 March 2001, 32% of the persons killed have been children.
In addition, schools have been fired upon and shelled regularly.
2. Medical Personnel: Israel has not only prevented medical personnel from
carrying out their duties, but Israel has also directly attacked clearly
identifiable medical personnel and/or clearly marked ambulances.
As of the end of February, this has resulted in four deaths and dozens of
injuries of medical personnel.
3. Journalists and Human Rights Workers: Israel
has also violated the special protections accorded to journalists.
Local and international journalists have been chased, intimidated and
fired upon by Israeli occupation forces. Also,
human rights workers from Palestinian human rights NGOs have been attacked in
the course of their duties. These
attacks are part of an orchestrated effort to hinder coverage of Israeli
Extra-Judicial Killings: Since
9 November 2000 alone, Israel has carried out at least 10 assassinations of
Palestinian leaders as part of an official policy of political assassination, in
two cases killing six civilian bystanders.
Use of Torture: There continue to be reports of torture and inhumane treatment in
Settlements: In violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel has continued to
establish and maintain Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian
Territories. This policy not only
violates the Fourth Geneva Convention, but it is also a policy of
“land-grabbing” and creating a fait accompli in advance of final status
negotiations. In addition, it is
also part of a larger policy of “population transfer” designed to displace
the Palestinian population with an Israeli one.
Also, often protected by Israeli occupation forces, armed settlers have
attacked Palestinian civilians from heavily fortified and strategically located
Land Confiscations and Destruction of Civilian Property: During
the year 2000, Israeli occupation authorities demolished 223 Palestinian-owned
buildings in the West Bank (including Occupied East Jerusalem) and in the Gaza
Strip, including 133 houses. In
addition, from September 2000 to 14 February 2001, approximately 7 sq km of land
have also been leveled in the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli Siege of the Occupied Palestinian Territories: Israel
has implemented the closure policy in unprecedented levels. This not only
constitutes collective punishment, and thus violates international humanitarian
law, but has also resulted in an increasing stranglehold on the Occupied
Palestinian Territories resulting in a "bantustan" system of
apartheid--in which the Gaza Strip has been transformed into the "Gaza
Strips." The siege has
resulted in the social and economic suffocation of the Palestinian people and
have furthermore resulted in:
of movement violations
of religion violations
of humanitarian law regarding access to medical facilities
of education violations
in extreme poverty
grave the current human rights and humanitarian condition in the Occupied
Palestinian Territories, we fear the worst is yet to come.
In order to stop the violations of human rights and international
humanitarian law that continued after Oslo and escalated since 29 September
2000, PCHR calls upon:
The Government of Israel, until such a date when it ceases its occupation of
Palestinian lands, to:
jure the Fourth Geneva Convention
its international obligations and to stop the:
of excessive, unnecessary and disproportionate force
of the particular protections of those enjoying special status
of extra-judicial killings
and maintenance of settlements
confiscations and destruction of civilian property
of the Occupied Palestinian Territories
The Human Rights Commission to:
international community to send an international protection force to the
Occupied Palestinian Territories
High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention to immediately
reconvene the adjourned conference and pressure Israel to implement de jure the
Fourth Geneva Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
implement resolution S-5/1
conclusions and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry report
the report of the Commission of Inquiry to the UN General Assembly