The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in 1992 by United Nations General Assembly to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development in accordance with the principles of human rights, including international human rights law, which aims to promote equality without discrimination.
Despite Israel’s accession to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, it continues to violate PWD’s rights as the occupying power of the Palestinian territory, especially the Gaza Strip. PWDs are subject to increased suffering due to the continued crimes committed by Israeli occupation forces (IOF) against Palestinian civilians, including PWD rehabilitation centers, stripping them of their right to life, personal safety and bodily integrity. Furthermore, the Israeli-imposed closure on the Gaza Strip bore strenuous consequences on PWD, particularly economic, social and cultural rights as well as civil and political right, hindering their access to services and service provision, especially assistive devices.
Since the Great March of Return started on 30 March 2018, IOF shot and killed 9 persons with disabilities, including a child. In addition, 196 civilians became disabled, including 28 children, due to IOF attacks; these disabilities included motor, sensory and sexual disabilities. Israeli targeting of PWD is not limited to attacks on their physical integrity, IOF also restrict their freedom of movement and denies them travel to seek medical treatment abroad, raising the number of victims with permanent disabilities who could have been treated were it not for Israeli restrictions.
On the Palestinian front, PWD suffer due to the persistent Palestinian political division, the suspended legislative process, as well as the disregard for Palestinian Law No. 4 for the year 1999 concerning the rights of the disabled, which asserts their rights to basic services in the fields of health, rehabilitation, work and education, as well as entertainment and sports.
On this day, PCHR:
- Calls for the immediate cessation of IOF violations committed against Palestinian civilians, including PWD, including killings and injury, as well as IOF attacks on PWD rehabilitation and educational institutions;
- Calls upon the international community to ensure Israel’s respect for international human rights treaties, especially those pertaining to PWD rights; and
- Calls upon the PA to issue the “PWD card” card stipulated in the 1994 Rights of Disabled Palestinians Law to provide decent living conditions for them and for their families.