PCHR Launches Annual Report 2021
Date: 12 May 2022
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) held a ceremony at Roots Hotel in Gaza City on Thursday, 12 May 2022, for the launch of its Annual Report for 2021 (Executive Summary). (Arabic version) The event was attended by prominent public figures, including judges, politicians, civil society organizations, academics, journalists, as well as victims of Israeli crimes who have delegated the Centre to represent them before concerned juridical authorities.
This is the 25th edition of PCHR’s Annual Reports series, as it has been part of PCHR’s tradition since the first year of its establishment. The report is divided into two parts, the first addresses the human rights situation throughout the year, and the second is an administrative report on PCHR’s work and accomplishments under its strategic plan for the promotion of human rights during the year.
The ceremony started with a minute’s silence mourning the late journalist, Shireen Abu-Akleh, who was killed in cold blood by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) as she covered the Israeli attacks on Jenin refugee camp yesterday. Ms. Heba Akeela, journalist at Al Jazeera Network where Abu Akleh worked and member of PCHR Board of Directors member, gave tribute to her late colleague speaking of her humility, dedication, and patriotic commitment.
During her speech, Ms. Akeela shed a light on Abu Akleh’s career, and how the humane side always took precedent in her work. She added that Abu Akleh was killed because she wanted to cover the details that turned Palestinians’ lives into hell, to expose the extent of the Israeli oppression and criminality against Palestinian civilians to the entire world. She continued, “the assassination of Shireen has brought the Palestinian cause, with all its details, to the center of the narrative, and exposed the occupation’s truth. The news circulated the world, and everyone was spoke about Palestine and the Israeli occupation’s crimes. Abu Akleh’s blood will amplify the many voices that has demanded -and continues to- for protection for Palestinian journalists and civilians, and to put an end to Israeli crimes against them.”
Dr. Riyad al-Zanoun, Chairman of PCHR’s Board of Directors, addressed the crowd and welcomed them to the event. Dr. al-Zanoun emphasized PCHR’s efforts in the construction of this comprehensive report and commended the earnest efforts that the team exert towards this end, in spite of all the challenges. Dr. al-Zanoun asserted that the main issue lies with the continued occupation, the closure of the Gaza Strip, and the denial of Palestinians’ rights. He added that the Israeli systemic practice of violence against Palestinians will not solve any issues. The solution is the end of the occupation. He continued with remarks on the Israeli judiciary’s role in providing Israeli war criminals and Israeli crimes with impunity, referring to the Supreme Court of Israel’s decision ratifying the seizure of Palestinian lands and displacement of the Palestinian population of seven villages, for the purpose of establishing a shooting range for the Israeli occupation forces. In conclusion, Dr. al-Zanoun paid tribute to the late Abu Akleh, describing as the witness to the truth and the brave martyr who died serving the truth. Dr. al-Zanoun demanded prosecution for the Israeli occupation for the murder of Abu-Akleh and invited PCHR to exert all efforts for that purpose.
Lawyer Raji Sourani, PCHR’s Director, delivered his speech and started it by talking about PCHR’s work on prosecution of Israeli war criminals and the Israeli judiciary’s suspicious role in covering up the Israeli crimes; the latest was the Israeli Supreme Court’s rejection of an appeal filed against closure of investigation into murder of Baker boys. Sourani emphasized that the Court’s decision was not a precedent nor was it shocking to those working in the human rights field as it only exposed the known function and historic role of the Israeli judiciary in protecting the Israeli war criminals, legitimating settlement activity, house demolitions, land expropriation, and holy site raids and other Israeli crimes.
Sourani described the murder of journalist Shireen Abu ‘Akleh by IOF’s fire as a tragedy that struck the entire world, labeling her as a Jerusalemite, Palestinian and Arab icon professional to the core. Sourani added that murdering her in this way reveals in front of the whole world the Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Palestinians. Sourani emphasized that targeting and killing Abu ‘Akleh was an Israeli response to the Palestinian Journalist’s success in speaking the truth about the Israeli crimes.
Sourani elaborated about the world’s double standard when addressing the Palestinian cause and Palestinian blood, pointing to ICC’s procrastination in opening an actual investigation into the Israeli crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory. On one hand, he talked about how the ICC and the world behind it hurled to open an investigation into the war crimes resulting from the Russian military operation in Ukraine without any delay, and states even competed to give donations of millions to feed the budget dedicated for opening this investigation, appointing assistant investigators, opening a portal to help eyewitnesses to five their testimony remotely and other unfamiliar measures to facilitate the court’s work in Ukraine. On the other hand, He added that the court did not take any real step to move forward with the investigation with the Israeli war criminals although there has been a decision to open an investigation since March 1st, 2021. Sourani recalled US Administration’s threats against ICC, its judges, and Public Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, as the latter took courageous steps over years to finally reach a decision to open an investigation.
The Director briefed the gathering on the main parts of the human rights situation report, which is designed in two chapters: the first details Israeli violations of human rights, and the second covers Palestinian human rights violations. Sourani addressed the Israeli May 2021 military aggression on the Gaza Strip where 151 Palestinian civilians were killed; the Israeli occupation’s excessive use of force against Palestinian civilians; the continued Israeli closure policy on the Gaza Strip; the confiscation of Palestinian lands; settlement expansion; raids to holy places of worship; and all other Israeli breaches and attacks on all that is Palestinian.
Similarly, Sourani addressed Palestinian human rights violations in 2021, describing the continued Palestinian division as a disgrace. He pointed to PCHR’s position in favor of delaying the election, which were scheduled for May 2021, after the occupation did not allows Jerusalem’s participation; nonetheless, Sourani clarified and stressed that that position does not translate to agreeing to a total cancellation of elections. Sourani concluded that all Palestinian parties must unify their efforts to end the division and hold elections, and to reach an agreement over the nature of Jerusalem’s participation.