Julie Webb-Pullman reports

Human Rights

“Human rights no longer treated as a priority, but as a pariah,” Zeid tells 25th anniversary gathering in Vienna

UN Office of the High Commissioner 

Vienna (22 May 2018) – In a speech delivered Tuesday at an international conference marking the 25th anniversary of a landmark human rights declaration, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein issued a stark warning that the world in general, including Europe, is back-sliding on human rights.

 The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted by consensus on 25 June 1993, and heavily influenced by the atrocities occurring just across Austria’s border with the former Yugoslavia, laid down the blueprint for human rights in the post-Cold-War era. It also set in motion the establishment of the UN Human Rights Office that Zeid now heads.

 “This anniversary could be the occasion for a polite celebration of the achievements of my Office over the past two and a half decades – and they are many,” Zeid told the delegates gathered in Vienna. “But today is not a time for soporific complacency. Human rights are sorely under pressure around the world – no longer a priority: a pariah. The legitimacy of human rights principles is attacked. The practice of human rights norms is in retreat. Here in Europe, ethno-populist parties are in the ascendant in many countries – fuelling hatred and scarring their societies with deepening divisions.”

 Referring to Austria, the High Commissioner added “In this country – which more than most should be aware of the dangers of ethnically divisive rhetoric… – false and incendiary statements have been made which are fundamentally at odds with the Vienna Declaration.”

 The full text of his 870-word statement can be read below: (more…)


UN human rights expert condemns horrific violence in Gaza

NEWS RELEASE

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967

GENEVA (15 May 2018) – A UN human rights expert has called on the Israeli Government to immediately cease its lethal assault against protesters at the Gaza fence, who appear to pose no credible threat to Israeli military forces on the Israeli side of the fence.

 Michael Lynk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, condemned Israel’s excessive use of force towards largely unarmed demonstrators at the Gaza fence on Monday, which has left 58 Palestinians dead, and almost 2,800 wounded. He expressed grave fears this figure could rise sharply in coming days unless Israeli authorities uphold their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

 “This blatant excessive use of force by Israel – an eye for an eyelash – must end, and there must be true accountability for those in military and political command who have ordered or allowed this force to be once again employed at the Gaza fence,” he said. (more…)


UN Human Rights spokesperson condemns “appalling, deadly violence in Gaza”

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville

 Location:      Geneva

 Subject:        (1) Gaza

We condemn the appalling, deadly violence in Gaza yesterday during which 58 Palestinians were killed and almost 1,360 demonstrators were injured with live ammunition by Israeli security forces. Of those injured, 155 are in critical condition. Six children and a health worker were among those who lost their lives, and 10 journalists suffered injuries from gunshot wounds. The already crumbling health care system in Gaza has been placed under incredible strain and those suffering life-threatening injuries face a nightmarish scenario in the absence of adequate hospital beds and medical services. We are still witnessing cases in which injured demonstrators are effectively prevented by Israel from exiting Gaza for treatment.

 The rules on the use of force under international law have been repeated many times but appear to have been ignored again and again. It seems anyone is liable to be shot dead or injured: women, children, press personnel, first responders, bystanders, and at almost any point up to 700m from the fence.

 A number of the demonstrators approached the fence, threw stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security forces personnel, and flew kites laden with petrol soaked material. Some tried to damage the fence that separates Gaza from Israel. Others burnt tires. Israeli forces responded with tear gas, plastic bullets and various types of live ammunition, some causing horrific wounds and lifelong disability. We stress, again, that lethal force may only be used as a measure of last – not first – resort, and only when there is an immediate threat to life or serious injury. An attempt to approach or crossing or damaging the fence do not amount to a threat to life or serious injury and are not sufficient grounds for the use of live ammunition. This is also the case with regards to stones and molotov cocktails being thrown from a distance at well-protected security forces located behind defensive positions.

 Again, we call for independent, transparent investigations in all cases of death and injury since 30 March. Since 30 March, 112 Palestinians, including 14 children, have lost their lives at the fence and thousands have been injured.

 We are extremely worried about what may happen today – an emotional day on all sides – and in the weeks ahead. We urge maximum restraint. Enough is enough.

 (Arabic version available on http://www.ohchr.org/AR/Pages/Home.aspx)


UNRWA dismayed by loss of life and injuries in Gaza

Statement by UNRWA Spokesperson, Chris Gunness

Jerusalem 14 May 2018

UNRWA is dismayed by the deaths and injuries in Gaza today of dozens of civilians, including children. The Agency unreservedly condemns the excessive use of force employed against demonstrators, who have the right to peaceful assembly and expression.

 The population in the Gaza Strip has been exposed to the consequences of repeated armed conflicts and a stifling blockade over the past decade. Today’s violence and loss of life will add yet another layer of trauma onto an already untenable situation.

 UNRWA is specifically alarmed by the impact the latest developments have had on Palestine refugees, who constitute over 70 percent of Gaza’s population. Since 30 March, when what has become known as the “Great March of Return” started, at least 4 UNRWA students have been killed and some 125 injured.

 Behind the numbers, there are shattered lives, destinies and limbs. In many cases the injuries sustained are very severe and likely to result in life-long disabilities. UNRWA supports calls for investigations into these grave incidents in accordance with international standards to ensure accountability for violations of international law.

 The risk is high to see similar violence occur again in the coming days. Collective international mobilization is  therefore urgently required to prevent further loss of life and injury. Every additional casualty is a defeat for humanity.


UN MEDIA ADVISORY ON GAZA

GENEVA (May 14, 2018) — At the conclusion of its 95th Session, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination issued the following Statement:

 PREVENTION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, INCLUDING EARLY WARNING AND URGENT ACTION PROCEDURES

 Statement

 Israel

 The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, meeting in Geneva at its ninety-fifth session, from 23 April to 11 May 2018,

 Acting under its Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedures;

 Alarmed by the disproportionate use of force displayed by the Israeli Security Forces (ISF) against Palestinian demonstrators who have been taking part, since 30 March, in the so called ‘the Great March of Return’ in Gaza, which has resulted in the death of at least 40 people, among them five children and in thousands of persons being injured;

 Gravely concerned that many of the persons who died or were injured were reportedly posing no imminent threat at the time they were shot;

 Alarmed also by the many reports according to which Israeli authorities have denied and continue to deny access to urgent medical treatment to injured Palestinians;

 Highly concerned that these incidents are taking place in a context marked by the 50 year- occupation of the Palestinian territory, the blockade imposed since 2007 on the Gaza strip and a rise of racist hate speech and incitement to racist violence against Palestinians by Israeli governmental officials and members of the ISF;

 Deeply worried about persisting discriminatory practices against Palestinians by Israel as well as the absence of adequate accountability mechanisms, which would permit Palestinians to seek justice for the human rights violations to which they are subjected and the failure to hold members of the ISF accountable;

 Concerned that while the State party publicly announced the conduct of an investigation into these events, an independent and impartial investigation has not yet taken place;

 Recalling the provisions enshrined in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, to which Israel has been a party since 1979 and in particular the obligations contained in articles 2 1), 4 and 5 b) and d) as well as the concluding observations on Israel issued by the Committee in 2012 (CERD/C/ISR/CO/14-16), especially paragraphs 10, 23, 24 and 26;

 The Committee urges the State party to:

  1.  Put an immediate end to the disproportionate use of force against Palestinian demonstrators in the Gaza strip, refrain from any act that could lead to further casualties and ensure prompt and unimpeded access to medical treatment to injured Palestinian;
  1. Initiate an impartial and independent investigation into the use of force against Palestinian demonstrators in compliance with international standards and hold those responsible accountable;
  1. Ensurethat all Palestinians under its effective control enjoy full rights under the Convention without discrimination especially, their right to life and security of person, freedom of opinion and expression, as well as their right to medical care;
  1. Takeall the necessary measures to fully implement the recommendations made by the Committee in 2012 and in particular:
  1. a) To fully respect the norms of humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to lift the blockade of the Gaza strip;
  1. b) To counter the tide of racism and xenophobia in public discourse, in particular by strongly condemning all racist and xenophobic statements by public officials and political and religious leaders, and by implementing appropriate measures to combat the proliferation of racist acts and manifestations of racist hate speech that particularly target Palestinians in the territories under the State party’s effective control.

2637th meeting

8 May 2018


Dear fellow human

My name is Olfat al-Kurd. I live in Shuja’iya in Gaza. I am 37 years old and have four children. In July 2017, I joined the B’Tselem team as one of three field researchers in Gaza. In the past few weeks, since the protests along the fence with Israel began, we have been working around the clock to document, collect eyewitness accounts and testimonies of injured people, and gather information about the demonstrations and casualties.

I attend the weekly protests not only in my professional capacity but also as a Gazan. Some of my photos, posted on B’Tselem’s photo blog, show how most of the protesters gather in tents pitched far from the fence. These families enjoy entertainment stages, live music, food stalls and other family activities. We go there to convey a political message, to demonstrate, but non-violently – we don’t go there with weapons. The soldiers shoot at us nonetheless, and people are injured from live fire and tear gas.

This week, a concerned Israeli colleague asked me why I keep attending the protests, even though it’s dangerous. I replied that I am, of course, afraid, sometimes so much that I fear I won’t come back.

But the truth is that nowhere in Gaza is safe – whether near the border or in our own homes. Israeli planes can bomb any house, anywhere, at any moment. We all live in constant dread of something terrible happening. Everyone in Gaza lost a relative in the last wars. I lost my brother in the 2009 ‘war’.

The festival activities at the protests are a rare opportunity for us to breathe, meet people, and feel that we belong to something larger than ourselves. The open areas near the fence are the vastest in Gaza, but no one has dared go there since the last war. We can’t go to the beach any longer because sewage infrastructure has collapsed as a result of the blockade, and raw sewage flows into the sea. Many Gazans live in abject poverty and cannot afford to sit in a café or a restaurant, so they come to the protests with a coffee thermos and food.

Israel has been holding Gaza under blockade for more than ten years. Some of the young people participating in the protests and being wounded or even killed by soldiers, do not know what it’s like to have running water and a steady supply of electricity. They have never left Gaza and grew up in a prison.

You can’t visit us, Israel doesn’t allow anyone to see what’s going on here. There is no real life in Gaza. The whole place is clinically dead.

The younger generations are crushed by the hopelessness and death everywhere. The protests have given us all a spark of hope. They are our attempt to cry out to the world that it must wake up, that there are people here fighting for their most basic rights, which they are entitled to fulfill. We deserve to live, too.

Sincerely,

Olfat al-Kurd
Gaza Field Researcher
B’Tselem


Gaza civilians demand action from the ICC

Palestinian victims today urged the Prosecutor of the ICC to move her preliminary examination of Palestine into a full investigation, with a complaint drafted by 40 lawyers from the Gaza Bar representing some 50 Palestinian trade unions, associations and civil society organizations plus 448 individual victims. The action was filed with the ICC by Maître Gilles Devers.

Palestinians file lawsuit against Israel at ICC

The procedure concerns three crimes:
– the blockade of Gaza
– the Israeli aggression in the summer of 2014
– the Israeli settlement of Palestine.

At a press conference in The Hague prior to submitting the complaint to the ICC, Mr Devers said that it was time for prosecutor to move the case forward.

“It is two years since Palestine has been under preliminary examination,” he said. “In Gaza, we think two years is too long.”

At a simultaneous press conference in Gaza attended by the lawyers and complainants, Basman AlAshi, Chief Executive of Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital said there is a wealth of evidence available to the Prosecutor.

“All the prosecutor of the ICC needs to open a full investigation is that there is a reasonable basis for believing that crimes within the jurisdiction of the court have been committed. The destruction of Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital, a protected place under the Geneva Convention, provides that basis. So do the attacks on Al Aqsa, Durrah and Beit Hanoun Hospitals.”

Dr Mariam Abu Daqqa described the treatment of women prisoners in Israeli detention, from being arbitrarily detained to torture, being deprived of contact with their children, and appalling living conditions. She also noted the huge number of child prisoners, and the failure of Israeli authorities to accord them even the most minimum standards of treatment demanded by international conventions.

Lawyer Mahmoud Afana emphasised the illegality of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, which breaches several aspects of international law, such as the right to self-determination, as well as many of the rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Afana described the ten-year siege of Gaza as collective punishment which constitutes “… a genocidal humanitarian crisis happening in full view of the world.”

Rana Shubeir, speaking on behalf of civil society and young people, said that they are sick of living a life of fear:
fear of being denied travel for study or medical treatment, fear of another aggression, fear of never finding a job in “this black hole of deprivation and suffering.”

“We only want to enjoy the basic human rights which are guaranteed under international and humanitarian law. We want to live knowing that the future of our children will be as bright as their innocent smiles. The only way this can be achieved is through the application of justice – and that is all we ask from the ICC – apply the rules, and open a full investigation into Palestine,” she said.

Gilles Devers emphasised that this action is just the beginning of a long struggle, noting they are well-organized and determined.

He said the group was also hoping to persuade the ICC to open a full investigation “as a matter of urgency” into the situation in East Jerusalem, where Israeli authorities are imposing severe restrictions on and around Al Aqsa Mosque, and violently attacking Palestinians protesting their repressive actions against the third most holy site in islam.

“Justice is the response to violence. We call for the strengthening of this legal action. This action must be intensified. Our strength is the determination of the Palestinian people to defend their rights.”


Hemaya: Gaza Inquiry appointments raise questions

PRESS RELEASE
Hemaya Center for Human Rights

hemaya logo (400 x 107)

Hemaya Center for Human Rights is deeply concerned about the events leading to the resignation of Professor William Schabas as Chair of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict, and his replacement by Ms Mary McGowan Davis.

We consider that best practice requires that potential conflicts of interest are explored PRIOR to appointment to such inquiries, and we are most concerned that this appears not to have been the case in regard to Professor Schabas. We remain concerned that it has also not been the case re Ms McGowan Davis, given her hasty appointment. (more…)


UN Rights Council appoints members of commission to investigate purported Gaza violations

Source: UN News Centre

On 19 July 2014 in the State of Palestine, passing the rubble of homes destroyed in an Israeli air strike, a girl uses a hand truck to transport jerrycans filled with water, in the town of Rafah in southern Gaza. Photo: UNICEF/NYHQ2014-0978/El Baba

On 19 July 2014 in the State of Palestine, passing the rubble of homes destroyed in an Israeli air strike, a girl uses a hand truck to transport jerrycans filled with water, in the town of Rafah in southern Gaza. Photo: UNICEF/NYHQ2014-0978/El Baba

The United Nations Human Rights Council announced today the appointment of three members to its independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate purported violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and particularly in the Gaza Strip since the conflict began on 13 June.

In a statement released this afternoon, the Council’s President, Ambassador Baudelaire Ndong Ella (Gabon), announced that the human rights body appointed Amal Alamuddin (United Kingdom), Doudou Diène (Senegal) and William Schabas (Canada) to serve as members on the international Commission. Mr. Schabas will also serve as the Commission’s Chair.

The Commission aims to establish the facts and circumstances of violations and crimes perpetrated and to identify those responsible. It will also make recommendations, in particular on accountability measures, all with a view to avoiding and ending impunity and ensuring that those responsible are held accountable, and on ways to protect civilians against any further assaults. (more…)


Taher: Disarming the resistance is a pipe dream of the occupier

Press Release
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
August 06, 2014

Maher Taher

Maher Taher

“Disarming the resistance is out of the question, and all factions hold tight to their weapons as long as their is occupation anywhere on the land of Palestine,” said Comrade Dr. Maher al-Taher, a member of the political bureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

“There are various media reports that Israel will not accept the reconstruction of Gaza except after the removal of the weapons of the resistance, and it is demanding to supervise everything that enters the Strip. We have affirmed very clearly that the idea of disarming the resistance is a pipe dream and an illusion that is unacceptable to all. It is unacceptable to even discuss this issue in principle or see it as a debatable question. It is our inalienable right to resist this occupation,” said Taher. (more…)


A question from Gaza: Am I not human enough?

by Maisam Abumorr
Source: Al Jazeera

Abumorr (400 x 265)

I remember when I attended a three-day workshop on international law and human rights by the ICRC in Gaza, one of the attendees asked the trainer: “What do I do to be qualified to obtain those human rights?” The trainer replied without much thought: “Nothing. You should be a human, that’s all”.

The question now is, what am I supposed to do/be to be qualified as a human? As far as I can tell, I live like normal humans do. I love, I hate, I cry, I laugh, I make mistakes, I learn, I dream, I hurt, I get hurt, I love pizza, I watched Titanic 6 times, I have a crush on Bradly Cooper, I get sick, I sometimes tell lame jokes to which only I laugh and last time I checked myself in the mirror I very much looked human. (more…)


Any ceasefire agreement must be based on international law, respect for human rights

Press Release
Ministry of Health Gaza
August 06, 2014

The Ministry of Health Gaza insists that any ceasefire agreement must guarantee the human rights of our people, most importantly, the right to health.

We therefore stress that any agreement arising out of the talks in Cairo must be based on international law, not self-interest.

We emphasise that international law is something that is applied without fear or favour, not negotiated.

Loss of Palestinian land up until 2012

Loss of Palestinian land up until 2012

(more…)


NZ parliament unanimously condemns Israel

nz parliament (400 x 300)

On Thursday July 31, 2014 the New Zealand parliament condemned Israel for its attack on an UNRWA schoopl in Jabaliya, in a motion passed without dissent.

The text of the motion, proposed by Green MP Kennedy Graham,is as follows:

“That this House note the comment of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon regarding the latest shelling of a school in Gaza: ‘nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children. I want to make it clear that the precise location of the Jabaliya elementary girls school had been communicated to the Israeli military authorities 17 times, as recently as last night just a few hours before the attack. They were aware of the coordinates and exact locations where these people are being sheltered’. And that this House condemn Israel’s action and calls for an immediate ceasefire to prevent the loss of further innocent life.”


Joint Declaration by International Law Experts on Israel’s Gaza Offensive

The International Community Must End Israel’s Collective Punishment of the Civilian Population in the Gaza Strip

girl

As international and criminal law scholars, human rights defenders, legal experts and individuals who firmly believe in the rule of law and in the necessity for its respect in times of peace and more so in times of war, we feel the intellectual and moral duty to denounce the grave violations, mystification and disrespect of the most basic principles of the laws of armed conflict and of the fundamental human rights of the entire Palestinian population committed during the ongoing Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip. (more…)


MOH Gaza Update 1900 hrs 25/07/2014

The Ministry of Health in Gaza reports the following statistics as at 1900 hours on Friday July 25, 2014.

Deaths: 848 – 208 children, 82 women 18-60 years, 40 persons over 60 years
Injuries: 5,694 – 1,779 children, 1,112 women 18-60 years, 203 over 60 years.
ICU: 112 patients

Statisitics 25-7-2014_E (400 x 571) (more…)


Gaza: Statement by Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Geneva, 23 July 2014

Human Rights Council 21st Special Session:
Human Rights Situation in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem

Boy trapped in rubble, Gaza

Boy trapped in rubble, Gaza

Mr. President,

Distinguished Members of the Human Rights Council,

Excellencies,

The situation in the occupied Gaza Strip is critical for the civilians living there and requires your urgent attention. Since Israel announced its military operation “Protective Edge” on 7 July, Gaza has been subjected to daily intensive bombardment from the air, land and sea, employing well over 2,100 air strikes alone. The hostilities have resulted in the deaths of more than 600 Palestinians, including at least 147 children and 74 women.

This is the third serious escalation of hostilities in my six years as High Commissioner. As we saw during the two previous crises in 2009 and 2012, it is innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip, including children, women, the elderly and persons with disabilities, who are suffering the most. Read more HERE


Press Statement: Palestinian Independent Commission for the Prosecution of Zionist Occupation Crimes against Palestinians

Statement issued from the Palestinian Independent Commission for the Prosecution of Zionist Occupation Crimes against Palestinians

July 13, 2014

The Israeli occupation forces have used internationally prohibited weapons against civilians in the current war on Gaza. The continuous targeting of civilians by the Israeli occupation forces is a systematic policy in the war against the Gaza Strip, which has been going on for seven consecutive days. This has led to an increase in the number of martyrs (167) and wounded (1123), many of who are women and children. (more…)


“Best prospect now for realizing Palestinian self-determination is grassroots mobilization”- UN rights expert

PRESS RELEASE
United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

GENEVA (8 May 2014) – The outgoing United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, today urged more businesses and civil society “to join the growing global solidarity movement to resist the prolonged Israeli occupation and creeping annexation of Palestine.”

His appeal comes in the wake of the collapsed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks brokered by the United States over the past nine months.

“Both Israelis and Palestinians deserve a just resolution to this conflict with human rights at its core, but the latest round of talks has again created false hopes and fuelled feelings of frustration,” the expert said. (more…)


Vittorio Arrigoni Commemoration in Gaza: “I am a diamond, and you cannot break me.”

On April 15 a group of Palestinians, Italians, and an assortment of other nationalities bussed down to Khan Younis to honour Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian activist murdered on this day in Gaza three years ago. Vik, as he was popularly known, was widely loved and respected by the farmers and fishermen whom he accompanied to deter Israeli attacks against them during their work, as well as by the many he helped during Operation Cast Lead.

Arriving at the home of a farmer who worked with Vik, the group was led to a memorial erected in his honour in the front garden of the farmhouse, surrounded with palms and plants, and adorned with posters and Palestinian flags.

Memorial to Vittorio Arrigoni on Khan Younis farm

Memorial to Vittorio Arrigoni on Khan Younis farm

(more…)


“Grave violations and aggression by Israel against the Palestinian people continued in a culture of impunity,” says Human Rights Council

Peace

On 24 March The Human Rights Council held a general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories, in a meeting at which four reports on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories were presented.

The Secretary-General’s report again confirmed continued flagrant violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said that the reports highlighted the issue of settlements, which, together with settler violence, were at the core of many of the human rights violations in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Despite repeated calls on Israel to cease settlement activity, their construction continued with devastating consequences for Palestinian civilians. Ms. Pillay also expressed deep concern at the situation in Gaza.

(more…)


Palestinian advocacy group says Israeli soldiers ‘intended’ to kill Jordanian judge

Source: Jordan Times

AMMAN – An independent Palestinian human rights organisation has published the outcome of a self-initiated investigation into the killing of Jordanian Judge Raed Zuaiter, who was shot dead by Israeli soldiers on the King Hussein Bridge on March 10. (more…)


Euro-Mid: Israeli army increases detentions of Palestinian children by 80%

PRESS RELEASE
Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights

Geneva-

A report issued on March 17th by the Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights points out that the Israeli forces have detained 740 Palestinian children during the first two months of 2014, 465 of them remained in custody for at least one week.

The Euro-Mid Observer, an independent human rights organization based in Geneva, states that approximately 200 Palestinian minors were detained monthly on average by the Israeli forces during 2013, and 197 on average during 2012, according to data published by Defense for Children International (DCI) and Israel Prison Service.

Child Prisoner

The first month of 2014 witnessed the detention of 350 Palestinian children; some of them were released within hours of their capture, while 220 others were held for one week or more. However, in February 2014, 390 children were arrested, of whom 245 were kept under custody up to one week or more. This indicates an increase in the number of detained Palestinian children by 80% during the first two months of 2014 in comparison with monthly average of detentions during 2013.

Euro-Mid’s report notes that after following up the cases of the detained Palestinian children, it was apparent that most charges held against them were linked to throwing stones at Israeli patrols roaming around in Palestinian cities, or taking part in a peaceful demonstration condemning Israel’s separation wall, or for shouting slogans, writings statements or paintings glorifying Palestine and rejecting the occupation. Such acts, the report confirms, are not deemed as crimes in international law and do not require the detention of a child as punishment.

According to the Israeli Military Order 1651, Palestinian child prisoners may be sentenced in military courts from the age of twelve, which violates both international and Israeli juvenile law.

The Israeli Military Order 1651 establishes a minimum age of criminal responsibility at 12 years, and sets out the maximum penalties that can be imposed on children in various age categories for a number of listed offences. The most common offence that children are charged with in the military courts is for stone throwing.

Euro-Mid draws the attention to the fact that most cases of detention against Palestinian child prisoners are carried out after midnight, and are accompanied by repressive police actions frightening children and their families without acute or security necessity. Moreover, the children’s parents are not allowed to accompany their children and are not told where they are taken to. Most children, meanwhile, are denied from their right to immediate legal assistance as Israeli authorities often starts investigations right after the detention of the child without the presence of a lawyer. No child should be interrogated in the absence of a lawyer of choice and family member. Additionally, the majority of those children are faced by solitary confinement, a practice with severe negative psychological impacts on the children.

A number of children told Euro-Mid following their release that during their interrogation by the Israeli forces, they were subjected to psychological pressure, scolding, deprivation of sleep, denial of access to toilets, and beating; different forms of torture and “harm, abuse, and violence” prohibited under the provisions of article (19/1) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The report stressed that such escalation in detentions against Palestinian children without any legal basis is at odds with article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that : (a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; (b) No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time”.

“The report, more importantly, made clear that the detention of Palestinian children mounts to “a stark violation of their right to their freedom of expression.”

Mira Bushara, a researcher at Euro-Mid’s legal department, said “Israel is totally indifferent to the Convention on the Rights of the Child when it comes to Palestinian children” pointing at the incident of Wadea Muswada, a 5 years old Palestinian child from Hebron detained in June 2013 on the charge of “throwing stones”.

Bushara said incidents documented in the film “Children in Chains” by British director Jonathan Pullman, “shows us that what Israel is practicing against the rights of Palestinian children represents a methodology that applies to all Palestinian cities and are not mere individual incidents that happen here and there, especially when nearly 190 Palestinian children under the age of 8 are held in Israeli prisons until this moment”.


Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council calls for opening of Rafah Crossing

PCHR

10 March 2014

Appeal to Open Rafah Crossing

The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council is deeply concerned about the continued deterioration of living condition of the Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip as a result of Israel’s denial and negligence of its legal obligations towards civilians and its continuation of imposing collective punishment on the Gaza Strip for more than 7 years.

The council strongly condemns the ongoing closure imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip and its serious impacts on all life aspects of Palestinian civilians. The council also renews its call upon the international community to intervene immediately to lift the closure, open all border crossings to facilitate the movement of Palestinians from and to the Gaza Strip, and ensure the freedom of trade. Thus, the council calls upon Egypt to open the Rafah Crossing, which has been closed for a month, to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians due to the Israeli practices and violations of the international humanitarian law and human rights law against the Gaza Strip population.

Israel has tightened its closure of the Gaza Strip border crossings, including Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing for 7 years. As a result, 1.8 Palestinians have been denied their right to freedom of movement to and from the Gaza Strip. Moreover, this policy has deteriorated the conditions of thousands of Palestinians, including hundreds of patients who need advanced medical treatment which is not available in the Gaza Strip, persons who work in other countries, Palestinian families living in other countries and university students who study abroad, have not been able to travel abroad.

The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council reiterates that the Gaza Strip is still under the Israeli tightened closure, which is considered a form of collective punishment, and impacts severely on all life aspects of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip. The council further emphasized that the Gaza Strip is part of the occupied Palestinian territory and reminds Israel as an occupying power of its obligation towards the population of the occupied territory according the international law. This includes taking all the necessary measures to facilitate the movement of people and goods. Thus, Israeli forces must end the illegal closure immediately. The international community must also pressurize the Israeli authorities to open Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing, the sole outlet between the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including Occupied Jerusalem. This would enable the Gaza Strip civilians to move freely between the Palestinian cities and the outside world.

The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council, which signed this appeal, takes into consideration the situation in Egypt, but is concerned over the deterioration of humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip. Based on the strong ties between Egyptians and Palestinians and the historical role played by Egypt in supporting the Palestinian cause and particularly the Gaza Strip, the council further:

1. Calls upon Egypt Authorities to open the Rafah crossing, which has been closed for a month, and stop the deterioration of the conditions of the Gaza Strip population due to the total closure imposed on the Gaza Strip;

2. To take the necessary measures to ensure opening the crossing normally before the movement of the Palestinian civilians from and to the Gaza Strip and put an end to their suffering;

3. Calls upon the international community to pressurize the Israeli authorities to stop the policy of collective punishment against the population of the Gaza Strip and immediately open all border crossings to put an end to the serious deterioration of the humanitarian conditions of the civilian population; and

4. Calls upon the Israeli authorities to comply with international humanitarian law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention, including finding a prompt solution to ensure the freedom of movement of Palestinian civilians through Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing regularly and safely, and to establish a clear system ensuring the freedom of movement of the population of the Gaza Strip and safe passage and flow of the population’s needs through commercial crossings.

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Gaza Govt Promotes Human Rights Training

The Gaza Interior Ministry today announced that the Reform and Rehabilitation Center in collaboration with an Independent Commission for Human Rights on Wednesday began a specialized course entitled “Human rights, Inmates and Law Enforcement” at the headquarters of the Authority in Gaza City.

The course provides workers with training in international and local human rights standards, to promote the rights of inmates in Gaza’s rehabilitation centers.

25 members of the Reform and Rehabilitation Directorate from all centers in the Gaza Strip are participating in the training, which takes place over 20 hours on three consecutive days.

In other recent moves, The Palestinian Interior Ministry in Gaza signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Gaza to develop humanitarian and international committee training courses.

Interior Ministry adviser for international affairs Maher Alrami noted when signing the MOU that since the Haniyeh government took control of the Gaza Strip in 2006, the Interior Ministry has put considerable effort into training its staff in humanitarian and human rights issues.

“The Islamic religion accords dignity and prestige to human beings in times of peace and of war,” Alramli said.

The Reform and Rehabilitation Directorate of Gaza’s Ministry of Interior is receiving increasing recognition in the Arab world for the quality of its rehabilitation programmes, which it conducts in co-operation with a range of organisations such as the Independent Commission for Human Rights, the ICRC, the Palestinian Centre for Democracy and Conflict Resolution, UNDOC, UNDP and others.