UN Official Denounces Assaults on Palestinians’ Fundamental Rights

UN Official Denounces Assaults on Palestinians’ Fundamental RightsUN Official Denounces Assaults on Palestinians’ Fundamental Rights

From arbitrary detentions and deliberate deprivation to attacks against civilians and forced displacements, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein expressed “acute concerns” on Monday over the current human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Briefing the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Zeid, who also heads the UN human rights office OHCHR, expressed concern over the dramatic escalation of violence along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel during the past few months, in which dozens of Palestinian civilians were killed, reported UN News.

“I remind all parties that any disproportionate or indiscriminate use of weapons which lead to the death and injury of civilians is prohibited by international humanitarian law,” said the high commissioner, warning that this escalation could potentially threaten peace across a far broader region.

Though the United Nations and the government of Egypt have made efforts to maintain a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas which controls Gaza, the situation remains extremely fragile, Zeid said. “I urge the parties and all those with influence to do their utmost to avoid another round of violence and misery.”

In his briefing, the human rights chief highlighted the dire conditions that Palestinians living in Gaza continue to endure. He regretted that these regular waves of violence “compound the already extreme humanitarian crisis,” which he denounced as “entirely man-made and entirely preventable,” including “skyrocketing unemployment and poverty, crumbling infrastructure, record food-dependency and a bleak political horizon.”

The grave funding crisis currently faced by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)—which plays a crucial role in providing protection, education and health services as well as employment to the refugee populations—is likely to further aggravate the situation, he said.

  Shocking Killings

Regarding the recent “shocking killings” along the Gaza fence during the Great March of Return demonstrations, he noted that the Human Rights Council resolved in May to dispatch an independent, international Commission of Inquiry on the matter.

“It is essential that the authorities cooperate with the future Commission to advance accountability for these killings, as well as all alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.”

In his statement, Zeid mentioned the adoption in July by Israel of the so-called Nation-State Basic Law, stating that it “anchors inherent discrimination against non-Jewish communities.”

The high commissioner also highlighted that the planning and construction of Israeli settlements continues “unabated” across the occupied West Bank, including East Beit-ul-Moqaddas. “Since the beginning of 2018, settler attacks on Palestinians have spiked to the highest monthly average of the past three years,” he added.

As for demolitions and forced displacement of Palestinian families in the occupied West Bank and East Beit-ul-Moqaddas, despite having slowed down after peaking in 2017, they continue to take place monthly, said Zeid, with 366 structures demolished in the West Bank alone—including 11 school structures—in the past year.

Other violations in breach of international law cited by the high commissioner include increasing restrictions on movement, daily intimidation by soldiers at checkpoints, settler violence and harassment, forced transfer and the continued existence of the separation wall.

The human rights chief highlighted also the plight of hundreds of Palestinian children detained by Israel, including some without charge, under the so-called “administrative detention” system. An estimated 440 Palestinians are being held currently.

On Monday, the UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories also denounced the deteriorating human rights situation for Palestinians, following their annual mission to Jordan.

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