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PCHR Testifies Before UN Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs in the Occupied Territories

Ref: 71/2011


On Friday, 22 July 2011, a delegation of the Palestinian Center for
Human Rights (PCHR) testified before the UN Committee to Investigate Israeli
Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs
in the Occupied Territories. PCHR’s
representatives included Hamdi Shaqqura, PCHR’s Deputy Director for Program
Affairs, and Iyad al-Alami, PCHR’s Deputy Director for Administrative and Legal

For the first time, the Committee was able to convene its sessions
in Gaza City after passing via Rafah International Crossing Point, as the
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have prevented it from conducting its work and
refused receiving the Committee officially. However, the Committee used to perform its work in Cairo, Amman and
Damascus in the past years. The
Committee included Dr. Palitha T.B. Kohona, Ambassador and Permanent
Representative of Sri Lanka to UN in New York, as a Chairperson; Dr. Dato
Haniff Hussein, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Malaysia to UN, as a
Member; and Dr. Fode’ Seck, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Senegal
to UN, as a Member.

PCHR’s representatives reviewed the human rights situation and
violations against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

In his speech, Mr. Hamdi Shaqqura, PCHR’s Deputy Director for the
Program Affairs, addressed the violations perpetrated by IOF against the
Palestinian civilians, some of which amount to war crimes. He highlighted the excessive use of force by
IOF in the period from June 2010 to June 2011, and the accompanying crimes
against Palestinian civilians, particularly in the Gaza Strip. These crimes resulted in 81 deaths among
civilians, including 64 ones in the Gaza Strip.

Shaqqura shed light on investigations conducted by PCHR in each
crime and explained that some crimes showed that IOF deliberately targeted
civilians. He also reviewed the most
prominent examples of PCHR’s investigations during the reporting period,
including the excessive use of force against demonstrations marking the
Palestinian Nakba, which resulted in wounding 143 civilians, including
47 children, 5 women and 3 journalists, as 105 civilians of whom were in the
Gaza Strip.

Additionally, Shaqqura tackled killing 4 civilians, including two
children, in an Israeli shelling of houses on al-Nazaz Street in al-Shuja’iya
neighborhood, east of Gaza City, on 22 March 2011. Besides, he talked about the Israeli
escalation against Palestinian civilians on 7 and 8 April 2011, as 10 civilians
were killed, including a mother and her son and two children, when IOF shelled
civilian areas in Rafah, al-Shuja’iya and Khan Yunis. Shaqqura addressed other examples in which
IOF directly targeted civilian areas, which often resulted in killing
civilians, including children and women.

Iyad al-Alami, PCHR’s Deputy Director for Administrative and Legal
Affairs, tackled the absence of justice in the Israeli judiciary, stressing
that when the matter is about Palestinian civilians in OPT, the Israeli
judiciary, including the Supreme Court, is turned into a tool to legally cover what
IOF perpetrate as an integral part of the occupation. Al-Alami discussed the difficulties facing
victims of human rights violations in order to access justice under the laws
that do not offer them reparations.

Al-Alami reviewed the conditions of Palestinian prisoners in the
Israeli prisons and what they face of cruel, inhumane and degrading conditions,
including torture crimes, health conditions and medical negligence, as some
prisoners suffer from serious diseases and measures of solitary confinement. Al-Alami also showed statistics and
information about prisoners, including children, women and patients.

Al-Alami highlighted the strict measures imposed on the Palestinian
prisoners in an unprecedented manner after the Palestinian resistance had
captured the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, in June 2006. These measures included naked search against
prisoners, solitary confinement against a large number of them, denying all the
Gazan prisoners family visitation for five years and preventing hundreds of families
in the West Bank from visiting their imprisoned sons in the Israeli prisons.

Al-Alami also tackled the last punitive measures taken against the
Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli prisons upon orders by the Israeli Prime
Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to reduce the so-called advantages given to the Palestinian
prisoners. He explained that Israel
started to implement some steps against the Palestinian prisoners, including
intensifying the naked research and solitary confinement of the Palestinian prisoners’
leaders and preventing the prisoners from resuming their higher education.