Ref: 122/2013

 

Yesterday, 03 December 2013, marked the
International Day of Persons with Disabilities. In 1992, at the conclusion of
the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons (1983-1992), the General Assembly
proclaimed 3 December as the International Day of Disabled Persons (Resolution
47/3).  This resolution came so as to
stress the importance of respecting, advocating and protecting the rights of
disabled persons worldwide.  Such rights
are based on the general principles of human rights, including the
International Bill of Human Rights, which contribute to realizing equality
between people without discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, color or
social standing.  This occasion coincides
with the slogan proclaimed by the UN this year in order to break barriers and
open doors for a society that embraces everyone.  The deterioration of disabled persons’ rights
in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) systemically continues as a result
of the Israeli serious violations against Palestinian rights, in addition to
the ongoing internal split, especially in light of non-application of Law No. 4
of 1999 on the right of persons with disabilities and international standards
of human rights, including the International Convention on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities.

 

According to data available at the
Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the number of disabled persons has
mounted to around 113,000 persons, forming around 2.7% of the total
population.  75,000 of whom live in the
West Bank, making up 2.9% of the West Bank total population, and around 38,000
live in the Gaza Strip, making up 2.4% of the Gaza strip total population.  The percentage of disability among males is
2.9% compared to 2.5% among females.  The
above data indicates a steady rise in the number of disabled persons in the oPt
due to sustaining injuries resulting from the Israeli military attacks since
the beginning of Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000. 
According to documentation of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
(PCHR), since the outbreak of the Intifada in September 2000, Israeli forces
and settlers have killed 7,017 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip,
including 5,340 ones in the Gaza strip, and 1,790 ones in the West Bank.  94 civilians have sustained disabilities,
including 15 children and 7 females. 
Moreover, around 21,496 Palestinians were injured, including 18,262 ones
who were injured during al-Intifada and Israeli military operations in the Gaza
Strip.  More than 600 persons suffered
various disabilities especially during the 2008-2009 Israeli offensive and
latest Israeli offensive in 2012.  Dozens
of injured persons had to undergo amputations of the lower or higher limbs or
even both of them.  Additionally, the
number of persons with disabilities who were injured in the Gaza Strip mounted
to more than 110.

 

In the Gaza Strip, the rights of disabled
persons have continued to deteriorate due to the ongoing Israeli policy of
imposing the illegal closure, which is a form of collective punishment banned
under the international humanitarian law. 
Conditions of the disabled persons have worsened due to the
deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip resulting from the
Israeli-imposed tightened restrictions on the freedom of movement of people in
addition to the serious and catastrophic shortage of fuel and power supplies, medicines
and medical supplies, including assisting medical devices.  This affects the major services offered to
disabled persons and denies them access to services of health, water, clean
drinking water, environmental health and education and rehabilitation.  Care and rehabilitation associations for
persons with disabilities suffer from ongoing crises due to the daily outages
of electricity for long hours – around 12-16 hours daily.  These associations fail to offer health
services and rehabilitation, which depend on electricity supply.  On the other hand, hundreds of disabled
persons are not able to come from their houses to these associations or
practice their normal life due to their inability to move, especially persons
with mental and physical disabilities who depend on assisting devices when
moving.  The Gaza hospitals are unable to
provide many health services to disabled persons due to the ongoing electricity
outages in these facilities resulting in not turning on hundreds of medical
devices required for disabled persons in different medical departments.  The closure imposed on the Gaza Strip since
2007 has resulted in the ongoing deterioration of economic and social
conditions of disabled Palestinian persons as they and their families suffer
extreme poverty and lack of care and rehabilitation services and necessary
medical devices.

 

Persons with disabilities have suffered
the implications of the Palestinian political split for the last 7 years at the
level of enjoyment of their civil, political, economic, social, and cultural
rights.  The economic and social
conditions of them increasingly deteriorate due to the non-application of the
Palestinian Law no. 4 of 1999 on the rights of disabled persons and absence of
well to promote and protect their rights under the international convention on
the rights of persons with disabilities. 
Standards of living, which these persons and their families should
enjoy, have aggravated due to irregular payment of social allowances to them
for long periods, which may extend to 4 consecutive months, despite their low
financial value.  Disabled persons still
suffer poor services included in the card of persons with disabilities in the
Palestinian law such as health care services, rehabilitation, education,
employment, training, adequate facilities and the easy access to them in
addition to their rights in the fields of entertainment, sports, and
participation in the cultural life in society. 
The disabled have been waiting for the issuance of the disabled card,
which gives them access to the main services in the fields of health,
rehabilitation, training and education, for over 13 years.

 

The situation of the rights of disabled
persons has deteriorated due to the internal split that resulted in two
governments in Gaza and Ramallah. This split hinders any true amendment of
policies, measures, legislations and systems, which deny the disabled persons
their rights, especially the rights codified in the international instruments
relevant to the disabled persons’ rights in general.

 

On the International Day of Persons with
Disabilities, PCHR:


1. Calls upon the international community to
exert pressure on the Israeli forces to put an immediate end to all human
rights violations perpetrated against disabled Palestinians, including killing
and injury;

2. Calls upon the international community to
ensure Israel’s respect for international human rights, especially those
pertaining to the rights of disabled persons;

3. Calls for an immediate end to the ongoing
internal division that has had a catastrophic impact on the rights of
Palestinians in general and on the rights of disabled persons in particular;
and

4. Urges the Palestinian Authority to
implement the provisions of the Rights of Disabled Palestinians’ Law No. 4 of
1999, and calls upon ministries and governmental organizations to respect the
law pertaining to the disabled persons’ quota of at least 5% in the number of employees
in these institutions.