Today morning, 18 June 2019, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) testified before the United Nations Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting Human Rights of Palestinian People and Other Arabs of Territories Occupied in 1967. The Committee’s meeting is held in Amman from 17 to 20 June 2019.
PCHR’s testimony reviewed the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and in particular Israel’s most significant violations of child’s rights. PCHR shed the light on the following Israeli violations:
- Violations during the Great March of Return (GMR) demonstrations: Israel’s policy of willful killing to confront those participating in the peaceful demonstrations, which broke out along the borders between Israeli and the Gaza Strip within the so-called “Great March of Return”, showed the bloodiest and brutalist side of Israel. Since 30 March 2018, the peaceful weekly demonstrations broke out with the participation of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from different political and social spectrum, demanding refugees’ right to return and end of the Israeli illegal and inhuman closure imposed on the Gaza Strip for 12 consecutive years. During those demonstrations, the Israeli forces killed 207 Palestinians, including 44 children and 1 woman, and wounded 12707 others, including 2532 children and 385 women. Meanwhile, injury of some of those wounded was reported very serious, and dozens had either their lower or upper limbs amputated. The testimony also addressed the resolution by the UN international commission of inquiry (the Commission) established upon a resolution by the UN Human Rights Council in May 2018 to investigate the Israeli violations during the GMR demonstrations. The Commission published its report in March 2019, emphasizing the peaceful nature of the GMR demonstrations and that there was no need for Israel to use lethal force against the demonstrators who posed no imminent threat to the life of Israeli soldiers.
- Israeli violations against civilians and building in the Gaza Strip between 03 and 06 May 2019, the Israeli forces launched widespread aerial incursions and artillery bombardment through land and sea across the besieged Gaza Strip. As a result, 13 civilians were killed, including 3 women and a child. In addition, more than 100 civilians were injured. The testimony also highlighted that 130 residential apartments were destroyed while 700 others were partially damaged, inflecting financial losses of more than $9.5 million. As a result, hundreds of families were left with no homes and shop-owners incurred heavy material losses.
- Closure Policy Imposed by the Israeli Forces on the Gaza Strip: This constitutes a collective punishment measure against the civilian population and violation of many rights, including the right to health. For example, the Israeli forces imposed a series of restrictions on the Gaza patients, who are in need for travel permits necessary for their treatment, and in order to consider the applications submitted by patients, some documents shall be included. These conditions and obstacles imposed by the Israeli forces are not for approving the permit for treatment, but are only a condition for accepting the application in form. It should be mentioned that hundreds of patients’ permits are daily rejected under security reasons and justifications in addition to many cases that are given permits to travel via Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing for treatment but delayed for hours until they miss their appointments at the hospitals they are referred to. In its testimony, PCHR mentioned the obstacles imposed by the Israeli forces to restrict the Gaza Strip patients’ freedom of movement in order to deny them access to the proper treatment. In most cases, these restrictions have unfolded catastrophic consequences on the life of patients that would lead to their death. PCHR documented a series of violations against sick children as their companions (father – mother) were banned from travelling with them in their treatment trip. Thus, the results were catastrophic, causing deterioration to children’s health condition. The number of cases that received legal aid from the Legal Unit reached 54 since the beginning of 2018. PCHR also mentioned the other effects of the closure represented in preventing many commodities and minimizing some of them, exacerbating the suffering of the civilian residents.
- Review of the living conditions of Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli jails: around 5800 prisoners, including 250 children and 46 women, suffer cruel, inhuman and degrading living conditions in Israeli prisons in addition to solitary confinement in cells. The Israeli forces did not distinguish between a child or an adult in their oppressive policies; the latest of which was when the Israeli Prison Service’s applied hat was stated by the Israeli Minister of Public Security “Gilad Arad” relevant to not allowing the prisoners to contact their families via various means of communication, installing jamming devices, and denying family visits for some of prisoners. Due to that, the Prisoners’ Movement in the Israeli prisons announced a hunger strike. The Israeli forces further continue implementing an administrative detention policy against 500 Palestinian prisoners, who are deprived of family visits. PCHR’s testimony reviewed the deterioration of health conditions and medical negligence against prisoners that resulted in the death of dozens of them. The last of which was on 06 February 2019, when the death of prisoner Fares Baroud (51), from al-Shati refugee camp, west of Gaza City, was declared in Soroka Medical Center due to medical negligence.
- Absence of Justice in the Israeli Judiciary: PCHR pointed out to the Israeli judiciary’s role in legally covering the crimes committed by the Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians, reviewing the difficulties facing the victims of human rights violations when accessing the judiciary in light of the existing laws that prevent victims from seeking redress and compensation. The testimoney addressed a series of Israeli obstacles, including the amendments to the 1952 Civil Wrongs (Liability of the State) and financial constraints that have increased the burden on Palestinian victims in case they decided to resort to the Israeli judiciary. These obstacles culminated in Amendment 8/2012, which exempts Israel from liability for the damage caused to victims during a military operation.
In its testimony, PCHR pointed out that all cases brought before the Israeli courts are threatened to be dismissed upon the Beersheba District Court’s decision issued on 04 November 2018. Accordingly, the compensation claim filed against the Israeli forces relevant to directly shooting ‘Atiyah Fathi al-Nabaheen (15) in 2014 was rejected. The Israeli District Court claimed that ‘Atiyah belongs to “a hostile entity”. According to the court’s ruling and upon Article 5 (B) (1) of amendment No. 8 to Israel’s 1952 Civil Wrongs Law (Liability of the State), which declares the Gaza Strip as a hostile entity, the court emphasized the Gaza Strip residents do not have the right to compensation. Thus, the court ruled that that the plaintiff belongs to a hostile entity and the state is not responsible for the damage caused to him.
During its intervention, PCHR urged the international community to hold its moral and legal responsibilities and seek redress for victims; particularly that absence of accountability has made Israel a state above the law and that its legislative, legal and executive authorities are involved in all crimes committed against civilians, rendering resorting to the International Criminal Court legitimate for Palestinian civilian victims in light of absence of justice in the Israeli Judicial System.