The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Michael Lynk, has expressed his deep concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in the OPT, on the eve of the 50th year of the Israeli occupation.
“Occupations are inherently temporary and short-term under international law, yet this occupation – after 5 decades – has no end in sight. Indeed, it is deeply entrenched, and Israel, the occupying power, shows many signs of wanting to make it permanent,” said Mr. Lynk.
“The systemic human rights violations that accompany this occupation – collective punishment, confiscation of property, excessive use of force and unlawful killings, lack of freedom of movement and steady settlement expansion, among others – are intensifying an already perilous situation,” he warned.
The human right expert was speaking after a five-day mission to Amman, Jordan, where he met with human rights groups, UN officials and senior Palestinian government officials to discuss the human rights situation. Israel has not permitted the Special Rapporteur to visit the OPT since he assumed his Mandate in May 2016.
“It is with great concern that I look towards the future of Gaza, with all the reports I received this week indicating that the situation in the Strip is extremely dire,” Mr. Lynk stressed. “The ongoing electricity crisis has created an untenable situation, with predictions that by mid-June, a significant proportion of essential health, sanitation and water services may be inoperable.”
“I am struck by the depth of hopelessness and frustration in Gaza that has been described to me this week,” the Rapporteur noted. “After ten years of closure, I call upon Israel and the international community to turn your urgent attention to this situation, which cannot and should not be ignored any longer. The human rights of the residents of Gaza must be respected – this is the only path forward.”
The human rights expert also expressed deep concern about the situation in the West Bank. He noted that Israel controls Area C in its entirety, which makes up 60 percent of the West Bank, and which completely surrounds the Palestinian-controlled areas.
“Significant settlement construction has recently been announced, settlers enjoy four times the allocation of West Bank water that Palestinians receive, environmental degradation is spreading, and home demolitions are steadily increasing, all contributing to a situation in which many feel the path to peace is more and more difficult,” he said.
“I am particularly worried about the Bedouin communities in the Jerusalem periphery, who face the continued threat of displacement and destruction of their homes and livelihoods by the Israeli authorities,” said the expert. “Any displacement that occurs as a result of this coercive environment would amount to forcible transfer, which as I noted in my first report is a violation of international law.”
The Special Rapporteur drew attention to the current situation in East Jerusalem, where Palestinian Jerusalemites are confined to living in 13% of the area, while facing a consistent threat of losing their residency rights and considerable obstacles when applying for building permits.
“Israel has never recognized this part of the city as occupied territory, and the Jerusalem municipality treats its Palestinian residents in a highly discriminatory fashion when providing services,” he underscored.
“Protracted occupations are an abnormality and an anachronism in our modern world,” Mr. Lynk said. “In an era where almost the entire world lives as citizens in sovereign states of their own, it is beyond time that the international community deliver on its solemn promise of self-determination for the Palestinians.”