On Tuesday, 17 July 2018, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) testified before the United Nations Special Committee to Investigate Israeli practices in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) in Amman, Jordan. The PCHR’s delegation, was comprised of Hamdi Shaqqura, PCHR’s Deputy Director for Program Affairs, and Samih Mohsen, Coordinator of PCHR’s office in Ramallah. During the testimony, the delegation reviewed the violations committed by the Israeli forces against Palestinians, the ongoing deterioration in the human rights situation and the international humanitarian law.
In his testimony, Hamdi Shaqqura shed light on the Israeli violations in the Gaza Strip and the collective punishment practiced by the Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians represented in the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip for 12 years and its different consequences such as restrictions on the movement of individuals and goods, including restrictions on patients, university students, medical consignments, food stuffs and construction materials needed for the reconstruction process. Shaqqura also highlighted the inhuman and degrading treatment that the few numbers of patients, who are allowed to travel to Palestinian hospitals in the West Bank or the Israeli hospitals to receive medical treatment as those patients suffer from the most serious diseases, are exposed to. He added that the patients underwent a series of measures and obstacles practiced by the Israeli forces to restrict the patients’ movement. These measures lead to disastrous consequences on patients’ lives and may cause their death.
Shaqqura also pointed out in his testimony the ongoing Israeli attacks in the buffer zone in the eastern and northern borders of the Gaza Strip by opening fire at Palestinian farmers and shepherds, which would endanger their lives and deprive them of exploiting their lands. He further talked about the Israeli incursion in the Gaza Strip territory and the ongoing leveling works that target the lands.
Shaqqura talked about the Israeli attacks against Palestinian fishermen sailing in the sea and fighting them in their means of livelihood. These attacks include opening fire at Palestinian fishing boats, chasing them in the allowed fishing area, which was reduced to 3 nautical miles by the Israeli authorities, and confiscating and damaging the fishing boats.
Shaqqura also reviewed the Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians participating in the peaceful demonstrations along the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel. He clarified that those civilians posed no threat to the lives of Israeli soldiers. He pointed out that, during the demonstrations, which were launched on 30 March and to date, none of the Israeli soldier was hurt. He presented PCHR’s statistics on violations that the Palestinian civilians were exposed to during these demonstrations.
Samih Mohsen, Coordinator of PCHR’s office in Ramallah, gave his testimony about the Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank in general, and in occupied East Jerusalem in particular, especially areas classified as Area C, which constitute 62% of the total area of the West Bank. He also presented the forms of settlement represented in confiscating lands, declaring vast areas as closed military zones or military training areas, building settlement roads, establishing new settlements, escalating settlement construction, and demolishing Palestinian civilians’ houses.
In his testimony, Mohsen focused on settlement projects in occupied East Jerusalem, which are represented in escalating settlement construction, expanding the settlements’ boundaries, destroying Palestinian civilians’ houses on grounds of non-licensing and collective punishment policy, in addition to the impossible conditions imposed by the Israeli authorities on Palestinian civilians to prevent them from obtaining building licenses to meet the needs of population development in the city.
Mohsen reviewed the Israeli attacks against the Palestinian Bedouin communities in Jerusalem and the Israeli attempts to displace them as a prelude to emptying vast areas of lands for settlement expansion projects, especially for the E1 project. This project aims at connecting “Maaleh Adumim” settlement with the center of occupied Jerusalem, separating the northern West Bank from the south, and eliminating any chances of establishing a viable Palestinian state.