Palestinian activists Tuesday shared their testimonies on the outrageous injustices inflicted on the Palestinian people in a virtual session held by ActionAid and Al-Haq.
“Israel is the only country in the world to routinely arrest, detain and try children in a military court system,” key witness Janna Jihad said in their virtual people’s hearing hosted by ActionAid and the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq to highlight Israel’s violations of international law.
According to the organizers, the session, titled Free Palestine: A People’s Hearing, was intended to give Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip a platform to share testimonies about human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law.
Palestinian political analyst, activist, and researcher Nour Odeh, who moderated the session said: “These hearings provide an opportunity to hear from the victims first-hand and to put their suffering and the injustices they suffer into perspective. In an era when people are overwhelmed with images and reports of grim news, it’s important to hear from those at the centre of the news.”
The high-profile panel of witnesses focused on four key areas of Israel’s violations of international law: indefinite detention of minors and police brutality, ethnic forced displacement, attacks on freedom of the press and violations of the right to health.
Sheikh Jarrah campaigner, Alaa Salaymeh, who spoke as a witness at the event, said: “We need this public hearing to send a message to the international community stating that evicting and displacing the residents of Sheikh Jarrah will cause another Palestinian exodus catastrophe and the Palestinian people will suffer again.”
Young activist and journalist Janna Jihad shared her testimony on how children’s rights are violated by Israel.
“Palestinian children who are detained in Israeli prisons face a great deal of trauma and they have their childhood taken away from them,” she said.
“Israel is the only country in the world to routinely arrest, detain and try children in a military court system. We need to be able to look forward to a future where Palestinian children can be safe and protected at school, free from harassment, violence, arbitrary arrest, and attacks from Israeli soldiers and illegal settlers. We want a future like every other child in the world,” she added.
During the event, a legal analysis of the violations committed by the State of Israel was summarised by human rights experts and international lawmakers.
Jawad Bulus, a solicitor who represents Palestinian prisoners indefinitely detained by Israeli forces, said: “It is not easy to achieve international justice for Palestinians under the silence of international community and influence of powerful states that have blocked and hindered accountability for decades.”
“This public hearing event is to urge the international community to start listening to Palestinian people and demand justice, dignity and the right to self-determination for them.”
In May, the UN Human Rights Council members voted to launch an open-ended international investigation into violations in the lead up to and during the 11-day Israeli bombardment of Gaza, and into systematic abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, and inside Israel. However, nine member states voted against the resolution and 14 others abstained.
ActionAid and Al-Haq called on all 47 member states of the UN Human Rights Council to back the Commission of Inquiry investigating violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in the occupied Palestinian territory.
They also called on the UN General Assembly, which is taking place this week in New York, to pass a resolution asking the government of Israel to end all illegal ethnic forced displacements, including Sheikh Jarrah.