Ref: 49/2019

Lawyer Raji al-Sourani, the Director General of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), received a delegation from the Irish Ministry of Foreign Affairs included Mrs. Sonja Hyland, Political Director at Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Kyle O’Sullivan, Ambassador of Ireland to Israel, James C. O’Shea, Deputy Head of Mission; and Jonathan Conlon, Representative of Ireland on Palestine; and Joe Kennedy, Deputy Representative of Ireland in Palestine.

The meeting was attended by Lawyer Salama Besaiso, Independent Commission of Human Rights (ICHR); Mr. Samir Zakout, al-Mezan Center for Human Rights (MCHR); and Ms. Mona al-Shawa, head of PCHR Women’s Rights Unit.

Sourani welcomed the delegation and praised the deep historical relations between PCHR, the Irish government and the Irish civil society and human rights organizations. He underscored the Irish government’s continued support of PCHR and its work, praising its uncompromising positions in favour of the International Humanitarian Law and the International Human Rights law.

Sourani briefed the delegation on the Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip and its catastrophic consequences on civilians, demanding an end to it. He also discussed Israeli policies against Palestinian people and their rights, including ethnic cleansing, settlement expansion, and the efforts to create a Jewish majority in the occupied East Jerusalem and attempts to change its legal status. He emphasized that Israel imposed facts on the ground in the West Bank that abort the possibility of establishing an independent Palestinian state such as the settlements, confiscation of land and the construction of the annexation wall.

Additionally, Sourani stated that this is the worst year for Palestinians since the Israeli occupation started in 1967, emphasizing that it is the international community’s duty to hold Israerl accountable for its war crimes, and it should support the International Criminal Court (ICC) in this regard instead of threatening it as done by former U.S. National Security Advisor, John Bolton.

On the internal arena, Sourani considered that holding general elections an impossible mission under the current circumstances of division, isolation and exclusion of Jerusalem and restrictions on the freedoms of press and opinion.

Samir Zaqout, Deputy Director of Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights, asserted that the Gaza Strip has reached an unviable situation, in reference to United Nations report Gaza 2020, especially that poverty and unemployment rates have reached an unprecedented rate forcing the Gaza population to consider immigration.

Zaqout also addressed the challenges facing civil society organizations in the Gaza Strip and threatening the continuity of their work, such as the Israeli smearing campaign against human rights organizations and the Palestinian Authority’s restrictions on their work.

Mona Shawa, Head of PCHR Women’s Rights Unit, addressed women’s rights in the Gaza Strip, stressing that the bleak humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip has mainly affected women’s conditions and complicated their living conditions, as women pay the highest bill in times of peace and conflict.  Shawa also highlighted the obstacles of advocating for women’s rights and ensuring their access to justice and equality, considering the Palestinian division as the most serious impediment.

Salamah Bseiso emphasized that ICHR seriously follows up on violations of human rights in the Gaza Strip in accordance with citizens’ complaints. ICHR tries to settle complaints with security services and the Attorney General.