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High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Human Rights Council: Serious Violations by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory while Palestinian Armed Groups in Gaza Continue to Launch Rockets towards Israel

24 February 2021
MIDDAY

The Human Rights Council in its midday meeting held an interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights on her report on ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.

Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner for Human Rights, presenting her report (A/HRC/46/22), noted serious violations during the reporting period: 67 Palestinians, including 16 children, killed by Israeli security forces, and 3,678 injured.  One Israeli soldier was killed by Palestinians during this period and 90 other Israelis were injured.  Violations of international law included an attack by Israeli Security Forces which killed nine Palestinians, including five children, in Deir El Balah.  Ms. Bachelet said Palestinian armed groups in Gaza continued to indiscriminately launch rockets and incendiary balloons towards Israel. 

Israel, speaking as a concerned country, said that the report offered nowhere near a balanced view.  Israel was entitled to accountability and justice for all violations of international law, yet Hamas was not even mentioned, although they used Palestinian children as human shields, controlled the Gaza Strip since Israel unilaterally disengaged from Gaza 15 years ago, and indiscriminately fired rockets targeting Israeli towns. 

State of Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, said the report explored violations committed by the occupation forces from November 2019 to November 2020 in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.  The Gaza Strip continued to be subject to collective punishment through the blockade.  The absence of justice for Palestinians signified the absence of justice everywhere, and the culture of impunity concerning Israel must end.

In concluding remarks, Nada Al-Nashif, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, urged Israel to desist from demolishing homes, destroying private property and other acts.  As for the comment on the lack of reference to rockets that Palestinians launched against Israel, there were in fact several paragraphs in the report addressing this.

In the discussion, some speakers condemned ongoing excessive use of force by the Israeli forces, and the lack of cooperation by Israel with the Office of the High Commissioner, calling the human rights situation in the occupied territories calamitous and horrific.  Other speakers noted that Israel was a victim of terrorist aggression from various Palestinian groups and was within its rights to defend itself, something the report did not reflect in earnest. 

Speaking in the interactive discussion were Pakistan on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, European Union, Libya on behalf of the Group of African States, Qatar, Libya on behalf of the League of Arab States, Kuwait, Russian Federation, Jordan, Mauritania, Malaysia, Iraq, Indonesia, Senegal, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Iran, South Africa, Namibia, Egypt, China, Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Syria, Luxembourg, Botswana, Sudan, Cuba, Turkey, Bangladesh, Ireland, Oman, Albania, Slovenia and Switzerland and Libya.

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: Ingenieurs du Monde, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, Institute for NGO Research, Norwegian Refugee Council, Medical Aid for Palestinians, United Nations Watch, Al-Haq in a joint statement with the Law in the Service of Man, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Defence for Children International, and Women's Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling.

The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here.  All meeting summaries can be found here.  Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council’s forty-sixth regular session can be found here.

The Council will next hold an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, followed by an interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka.

Interactive Dialogue on the Report on Ensuring Accountability and Justice for All Violations of International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

Report 

The Council has before it the High Commissioner’s report on ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem (A/HRC/46/22)

Presentation of the Report

MICHELLE BACHELET, High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the report provided an update on matters related to accountability for alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory.  Serious violations continued during the reporting period, with 67 Palestinians, including 16 children, killed by Israeli security forces, and 3,678 injured.  One Israeli soldier was killed by Palestinians during this period and 90 other Israelis were injured.  The demonstrations at the Israel-Gaza fence had been suspended, however, the Office of the High Commissioner had observed a disturbing lack of progress regarding investigations into the widespread use of lethal force in 2018 and 2019 in the context of these protests. 

Violations of international humanitarian law continued to be reported, including an attack by Israeli Security Forces in November 2019, which killed nine Palestinians, including five children, in Deir El Balah.  Palestinian armed groups in Gaza also continued to indiscriminately launch rockets and incendiary balloons towards Israel.  The Office of the High Commissioner continued to observe persistent impunity afforded to members of the Israeli Security Forces for incidents in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.  Ms. Bachelet urged far more efforts by all parties to the conflict to advance accountability, and to provide redress to victims. 

Statement by Concerned Countries
Israel, speaking as a concerned country, said that the report offered nowhere near a balanced view.  Israel was entitled to accountability and justice for all violations of international law, yet Hamas was not even mentioned, although Hamas used Palestinian children as human shields, controlled the Gaza Strip since Israel unilaterally disengaged from Gaza 15 years ago, and indiscriminately fired rockets targeting Israeli towns.  There was no reference to the terrible costs and challenges of terrorism that Israelis faced on a daily basis, no accountability for Hamas, and no justice for Israelis.  Israel was a law-abiding democracy with an independent legal system and its Supreme Court was widely regarded as one of the most activist and effective High Courts in the world.  The institutional bias reflected in this report was an ongoing testimony of this Council’s politicization and partiality against Israel. 

State of Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, welcomed the decision of the new United States administration to return to the Council and expected that they would play a positive role based on the principles of human rights.  The Council had voted in favour of keeping item 7, while the United States had voted no in 2014, 2015 and 2016.  This matter needed to be reviewed by the United States.  The report explored violations committed by the occupation forces from November 2019 to November 2020 in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem - 67 civilians were killed and almost 3,700 wounded, including a number of medical personnel, persons with disabilities, journalists, children and women.  The Gaza Strip had continued to be subject to collective punishment through the blockade for over 14 years.  The absence of justice for Palestinians signified the absence of justice everywhere, and the culture of impunity concerning Israel must end.

Interactive Discussion

In the ensuing discussion, some speakers condemned the ongoing excessive use of force by Israeli forces, and the lack of cooperation by Israel with the Office of the High Commissioner, calling the human rights situation in the occupied territories calamitous and horrific.  Speakers said the human rights of civilians on both sides must be respected, and some expressed strong opposition to Israel’s settlement policy.  Israel must comply with its obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law on occupied Palestinian territory.  The Council was asked to take a clear and firm stand on the human rights violations against the Palestinian people that could be described as war crimes under the Rome Statute.  Several speakers expressed grave concern over the killing of 67 Palestinians, including 16 children, by the Israeli forces during the reporting period.

Some speakers noted that the Israeli occupying forces and the Palestinian people were being treated on an equal footing in some sections of the report.  Given the inequality and asymmetric relations between them, and the vast human rights violations that the Palestinians experienced at the hands of the Israeli forces, this must not be repeated, as it legitimised these violations.  Many speakers called for a two-State solution based on the pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.  Some speakers said that in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was ever more important to lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip that obstructed humanitarian aid.  Other speakers noted that Israel was a victim of terrorist aggression from various Palestinian groups and was within its rights to defend itself, something the report did not reflect in earnest.  Something was broken in the United Nations, when 25 times more recommendations were directed at Israel than all Palestinian terrorist groups combined since 2009.

Concluding Remarks

NADA AL-NASHIF, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, urged Israel to desist from demolishing homes, destroying private property and other acts.  Israel also needed to address violence by settlers.  Urban planning regimes had to comply with international law.  Some of this spoke to points made on justice and healing as well as accountability.  As for the comment on the lack of reference to rockets that Palestinians launched against Israel, there were in fact several paragraphs in the report addressing this.


Link: https://www.ungeneva.org/en/news-media/meeting-summary/2021/02/le-conseil-des-droits-de-lhomme-examine-le-rapport-sur-les

 

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For use of the information media; not an official record