Ref: 26/2019

The United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory held a press conference held a press conference on Thursday, 28 February 2019, in the UN Headquarters in Geneva, in which the Chair and members of the Commission presented the conclusions and finding of their investigation during the period from 30 March until 31 December 2018.

 

PCHR expresses its satisfaction with what the UN Commission and report presented as its transparency and impartially demonstrate the truth about the violations committed by the Israeli forces against the peaceful demonstrators.

 

The Commission Members emphasized that the activities of the Great March of Return were peaceful in nature, and the applicable legal framework was thus based on international human rights law, which is rejected by Israel.  The Members also criticized the Israeli rules of engagement, which apparently permitted the use of live fire at the “main inciters”, emphasizing that this is illegal.

 

The investigation findings were compatible with conclusions of Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights organizations that the Israeli forces used lethal force against demonstrators, who did not pose imminent threat to the life of Israeli soldiers and were  directly participating in hostilities, in grave violation of international rights law.

 

The Israeli forces have intentionally and directly used lethal force against civilians, including children, women, journalists, health workers, and persons with disabilities.  The Commission added that these actions may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity.

 

The report also mentioned Israel’s rejection to issue permits to wounded demonstrators seeking medical treatment outside of the Gaza Strip, which had been under decade for 12 years and caused its health-care system to be in a disastrous condition. The Commission also called on Israel to lift the inhuman and illegal blockade on Gaza and ensure that all those injured at demonstrations are given permits to travel for medical treatment abroad in addition to developing the medical services in Gaza.

 

The Commission emphasized that the international community to take responsibility towards the protection of civilians and apply the recommendations made by the previous international commissions of inquiry.

 

It should be mentioned that On 18 May 2018, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution (S-28/1) in which it decided to form Commission of Inquiry, which will present its report and recommendations to the Council at its 40th session on 18 March 2019 in the UN Headquarters in Geneva.

 

PCHR believes that this report stresses on civilians’ right to peaceful assembly and emphasizes the conclusions by all Palestinian, Israeli and international organizations that Israel has deliberately killed Palestinian civilians. PCHR believes that the position of the Commission is a victory for the rule of law against the law of jungle applied by the Israeli forces against the peaceful demonstrators.  PCHR adds that this report came to emphasize the human, moral and legal superiority of the Palestinian people over the occupation.

 

PCHR welcomes the results of the international investigation into the Great March of Return; and:

 

  1. Calls upon the UN Human Rights Council to adopt and ratify the report when it is discussed on 18 March at the 40th session of the Council.
  2. Calls upon the High Commissioner for Human Rights to submit the report to the International Criminal Court.
  3. Calls upon the Member States of the Human Rights Council to adopt a decision to renew the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry, in the light of the continuation of Return March and the ongoing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the Israeli forces during the period following the Committee’s work period.

 

To view full report click here:

 

https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/CoIOPT/A_HRC_40_74.pdf