Israeli occupation, culture of impunity severely undermine Palestinian rights, warns UN special committee

New York/PNN/

The United Nations’ special committee to investigate Israeli practices toward Palestinians has condemned the Israes flagrant violations against the Palestinian people, warning that Israel’s insistence on its “culture of impunity” undermines human rights.

The committee said in a statement that “it regrets that Israel did not respond to its request for consultations or for access to the occupied Palestinian territories and the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.”

It stressed that the protracted Israeli occupation and an entrenched culture of impunity severely undermine the prospect of Palestinians living in peace and dignity.

The special committee also denounced “increasing settler and Israeli forces’ violence against Palestinians, arbitrary arrests and detention, restrictions on the freedom of expression and movement, as well as a deepening culture of impunity.”

It underlined that Israeli forces have killed at least 60 Palestinians during raids and overnight operations in the West Bank in the first half of the current year, and the figure shows a sharp increase as 41 Palestinians lost their lives during the same period last year.

The special committee went on to lambast Israeli authorities for holding the bodies of 325 slain Palestinians and thus preventing their families to give them decent burials.

“Settler violence has continued to increase at an alarming rate. A total of 575 incidents of settler violence, resulting in the deaths, injuries, and damage to the properties of Palestinians, were reported between June 1, 2021 and May 31, 2022, compared to 430 counts last year. Perpetrators are very rarely held accountable. Gross violations of Palestinian human rights, including the right to self-determination, are the result of discriminatory and systematic policies and practices negatively impacting almost every aspect of their lives,” the special committee explained.

It said that more than 800,000 Palestinians have been subjected to the illegal practice of administrative detention since 1967, arguing that some 640 Palestinians, including four children, are currently being held behind bars without charge or trial.

The committee went on to say that “torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons remain widespread, and that Palestinian detainees are often deprived of adequate health care, as clinics within prisons lack appropriate medical equipment and treatment.”

“In the West Bank and East al-Quds, discriminatory planning laws and military orders are applied to justify aggressive expropriation of land for the purposes of expanding illegal Israeli settlements and military training areas. In Area C, which comprises approximately 62 percent of land in the West Bank, almost 30 percent is designated as closed ‘firing zones’ and Palestinian residents in those designated areas are at heightened risk of forcible evictions and demolitions of their homes.”

The UN special committee also expressed particular concern over the ongoing demolitions of Palestinian structures and displacement of Palestinian residents in the Masafer Yatta area of the occupied West Bank.

“About 1,200 residents of Masafer Yatta face imminent risks of forcible evictions and displacement. This constitutes the largest displacement of Palestinians since 1967, and may amount to forcible transfer, which is a grave breach of international humanitarian law,” the committee underlined.

“Illegal Israeli settlements have also continued to expand, resulting in demolitions of Palestinian-owned structures and displacement of Palestinian residents. The UN Security Council resolution 2334 condemns such practices,” it said.

It noted that 387 Palestinian structures, including 68 donor-funded structures, have been demolished since the beginning of this year, displacing 496 Palestinians as a result.

The committee said it had “received mounting evidence of Israel’s discriminatory and inhumane laws [and] practices that violate Palestinians’ human dignity in every sense and essence of human rights.

“Palestinian children are routinely intimidated by Israeli forces on the way to school, and face physical access restrictions to their right to education, despite repeated calls by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Israel to better protect schools as places of learning,” the agency said.

The UN special committee then referred to the brutal Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip, stating that 15 years of land, sea, and air blockade and closures have effectively trapped 2.1 million Palestinians living in what local residents and international civil society organizations describe as an ‘open-air prison.’

It finally called on the international community to take principled steps toward ensuring that Israel’s occupation ends and Palestinians’ right to self-determination is realized.

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