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COUNCIL HOLDS GENERAL DEBATE ON SITUATION IN PALESTINE AND OTHER OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES
24 September 2012

The Human Rights Council this morning heard the presentation of the report of the United Nations Secretary-General on the progress made in the implementation of the recommendations of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict and then started its general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.

Presenting the report of the United Nations Secretary-General, Kyung-wha Kang, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, highlighted the need to more earnestly pursue accountability for serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law that were documented by the Fact-Finding Mission.  Nearly three years since the endorsement of the Mission’s recommendations by the Human Rights Council, not one person had been indicted for any of the incidents that had been documented.  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights field office continued to document violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property, including destroying Palestinians’ olive trees and other productive assets, and stressed the need to bring perpetrators to justice.

Laura Lasserre Dupuy, President of the Human Rights Council, said that she had received a letter from the Fact-Finding Mission in which it had updated the Human Rights Council on the progress in the discharge of its mandate and said that the report would be made available to the Council in its twenty-second session to take place in March 2013.  The President said the delegation of Israel was not in the room and regretted its absence.

Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, said that the report showed clearly the measures that remained to be made by all parties involved, namely the concerned States, the international community, and regional and international organizations.  Palestine would follow up on the recommendations and ensure that they became a reality on the ground.  The occupation was the main cause of the suffering of the Palestine people.  Palestine reiterated that international law and in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention must apply in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in East Jerusalem.

Also speaking as a concerned country, Syria said that despite the fact that the occupation constituted the worst violation of human rights, many had forgotten the suffering of Arabs under occupation.  Armed gangs and extremism fuelled violence and chaos and were transforming these territories into forgotten causes.  Israel continued to commit grave violations of human rights, ignored its responsibilities with regards to torture, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners, and continued to deprive the inhabitants from the right to justice, access to courts and redress. 

In the general debate, numerous delegations called for the implementation of the recommendations contained in the United Nations Secretary-General’s report on the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict and deplored Israel’s violation of standards and principles of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territories and the occupied Syrian Golan.  The on-going conflict and the occupation represented a failure of the international community to bring about the change that the Palestinian people deserved, said speakers and expressed concern about the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza; unless urgent action was taken, Gaza would no longer be liveable in 2020.  Israel should put an end to impunity for settler violence, lift the blockade of Gaza and release Palestinian prisoners, while the international community should take all necessary steps to ensure the resumption of negotiations towards a lasting peace and the absolute respect for human rights. 

Speaking in the interactive dialogue was Senegal on behalf of the African Group, Cyprus on behalf of the European Union, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, United Arab Emirates on behalf of the Arab Group, Cuba on behalf of the Non Aligned Movement, India on behalf of the India, Brazil and South Africa Dialogue Forum, Russia, Norway, Maldives, Cuba, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Jordan, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Kuwait, Qatar, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Morocco, Algeria, South Africa, Turkey, Bahrain, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Iceland, Venezuela and Lebanon.

The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in a joint statement, Mouvement contre le Racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peoples in a joint statement, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence in the administration of justice in a joint statement, Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations in a joint statement, BADIL Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights in a joint statement, Al-Haq in a joint statement, Union of Arab Jurists in a joint statement, Defence for Children International, Norwegian Refugee Council, Maryam Ghasemi Educational Charity Institute and United Nations Watch.

The Human Rights Council will reconvene at 3 p.m. this afternoon to conclude the general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.  Time allowing, it will then start its general debate on follow-up to and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

Documentation

The Council has before it the report of the Secretary-General on the progress made in the implementation of the recommendations of the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict A/HRC/21/33.

Presentation of the Report of the Secretary-General

KYUNG-WHA KANG, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, presented the report of the Secretary-General on progress made in the implementation of the recommendations of the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza conflict.  The report reviewed the status of implementation of the Fact-Finding Mission’s recommendations and also contained the Secretary-General’s observations regarding the measures required to ensure the most adequate and effective implementation of each recommendation.  Ms. Kang said the High Commissioner encouraged the Government of Israel and the Palestinian side to take prompt action in response to the Secretary-General’s observations.  In addition, the High Commissioner highlighted the need to more earnestly pursue accountability for serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law that were documented by the Fact-Finding Mission.  It had been nearly three years since the Council had endorsed the Fact-Finding Mission’s recommendations, yet not one person had been indicted for any of the incidents that had been documented.

Respecting human rights and international humanitarian law obligations meant perpetrators were brought to justice, requiring independent, impartial, thorough, effective and prompt investigations, and fair trials that met international standards.  Penalties commensurate with the crimes were also required.   There was a need to ensure accountability for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, bringing to justice Israeli settlers who perpetrated violence against Palestinians and their property.  The High Commissioner’s field presence continued to document such violence.  With the upcoming olive harvest, the phenomenon of Israeli settlers destroying Palestinians’ olive trees and other productive tress merited focused attention.   Such attacks had a seriously detrimental impact on Palestinian livelihoods, as agriculture was a critical source of income for many communities in the West Bank.  It was Israel’s legal obligation to protect Palestinians from such violence and to ensure perpetrators were brought to justice.  In that context, the High Commissioner welcomed the recent announcement from Israel’s Internal Security Minister that a police task force would be established to address ‘nationalistic hate crimes’ committed by Israeli settlers. 

Statement by the President of the Council

LAURA LASSERRE DUPUY, President of the Human Rights Council said that she had received a letter from the Fact-Finding Mission in which it had updated the Human Rights Council on the progress in the discharge of its mandate and said that the report would be make available to the Council in its twenty-second session to take place in March 2013.  The President said the delegation of Israel was not in the room and regretted its absence.

Statements by Concerned Countries

Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, said that the report showed clearly the measures that remained to be made by all parties involved, namely the concerned States, the international community, and regional and international organizations.  Palestine would follow up on the recommendations and ensure that they became a reality on the ground.  Israel continued the occupation of the Palestine territories and the violations of international human rights law, international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions, as well as the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice concerning the construction of the wall.  International law and in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention must apply in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in East Jerusalem.  The occupation was the main cause of the suffering of the Palestine people and the pursuit of the policies of Israel was violating the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.  Palestine reaffirmed that the Palestinian Liberation Organization remained the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.  The construction of the wall and the judaisation of East Jerusalem were continuing.  Israel was an occupying force and had a responsibility to ensure the application of the relevant provisions of international law in the occupied territories.  Palestine called on the international community to tackle the issue through the United Nations agencies, laws, rules and resolutions that governed the work of the United Nations.

Syria, speaking as a concerned country, said that for over 40 years Syria had turned to the Council concerning Israeli violations as an occupying power in the Palestinian territories and Syrian Golan.  Despite the fact that the occupation constituted the worst violation of human rights, many had forgotten the suffering of Arabs under occupation.  Armed gangs and extremism fuelled violence and chaos and were transforming these territories into forgotten causes.  Despite numerous resolutions, Israel, the country of impunity, continued to flout resolutions by the international community as it believed it was above the law.  Israel continued to violate a series of human rights and ignore its responsibilities with regards to torture, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners, and other basic rights of the population in the occupied territories, such as the right to education, the right to health, and other basic rights.  Israel also continued to deprive the inhabitants from the right to justice, access to courts and redress.  Syrian prisoners continued to suffer from inhuman and unjust imprisonment.  Israel should withdraw from all Arab occupied territories on the basis of the Madrid Conference and all relevant United Nations resolutions.  Syria stressed the need for a fact finding mission in order to assess the situation of Israeli settlements.  Israel should release all prisoners and detainees and respect its obligations under the Geneva Conventions and the International Committee of the Red Cross should be allowed access to supervise the conditions of detainees.  Israel could not remain above international law and accountability, nor continue to enjoy impunity.

General Debate on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories

Senegal, speaking on behalf of African Group, said it was clear that the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories showed no sign of improvement with the continued building of illegal settlements in the West Bank and the construction of the wall significantly infringing on Palestinian land.  The African Group called for an immediate halt to the establishment of settlements on Palestinian land and for the dismantling of the separation wall, whose illegal status and highly controversial characteristics jeopardised peace. 

Cyprus, speaking on behalf of the European Union, reiterated that settlements and the separation barrier which were built upon occupied land and the demolition of homes and evictions were illegal under international law and constituted an obstacle to peace.  The European Union condemned the increase in the number and severity of recent violent incidents against Palestinian civilians by Israeli settlers.  It also called for a halt to rocket attacks on Israel.  Israel was called upon to resume cooperation with the Council.

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that the Council should give increased attention to the refusal by Israel to cooperate with the normal functioning of the United Nations and its mechanisms, and take concrete measures to address Israel’s decision to suspend its relationship with the Council.   It condemned the legalization of new settler outposts that had previously been regarded as illegal even under Israeli law, as well as continued violence by settlers against Palestinian civilians.  It also demanded the immediate lifting of the siege imposed on the occupied Gaza Strip.

United Arab Emirates, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, called on all parties concerned to immediately implement the recommendations contained in the United Nations Secretary-General’s report on the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza conflict.  Israel persisted with the occupation and the violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention.  The Palestinian people could not accept perpetual occupation and it was high time for the international community to implement the provisions of the international law.  Negotiations were indispensable to achieve this goal.

Cuba, speaking on behalf of the Non Aligned Movement, said that the report stressed the continued lack of cooperation by Israel with the international mechanisms of legality, which indicated the failure of this country to uphold and fulfil its obligations under international law.  The international community must hold accountable the perpetrators of crimes and bring to an end Israel’s impunity and defiance of the law and grave and systematic violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the Syrian Golan.  Cuba reiterated the call for the reconvening of the Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention

India, speaking on behalf of the India-Brazil-South Africa Dialogue Forum, warned about the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza and called on Israel to lift the blockade and facilitate the movement of persons and goods.  The violence of Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property in the West Bank and East Jerusalem was an issue of particular concern.  Occupation remained the main cause of human rights violations in Palestine; existing conflicts remained political in nature and could not be resolved by force by any side.  They called for the urgent resumption of effective and result-oriented negotiations and the monitoring of the Quartet’s activities by the Security Council.

Russia, against the backdrop of crisis and enhanced instability, called on all actors in the conflict to refrain from using force.  Russia expressed alarm at the increasing acts of violence carried out by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property, and condemned acts of terrorism against and the shelling of Israeli territory.  Russia called on Israel to review its decision of refusing to cooperate with the Council and to comply with its responsibilities as an occupying force, including the implementation of relevant United Nations resolutions.  After the resumption of negotiations, the convening of a Moscow Summit on Middle East Peace could make a contribution.    

Norway remained concerned about the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, the situation of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, the use of illegal detention, particularly in the West Bank, and the disproportionate use of live ammunition in search operations.  Settler violence was particularly alarming and must be stopped and Israel was responsible as an occupying power to protect Palestinian civilians against forced displacements and destruction of poverty.  The de facto authority in Gaza also had the responsibility to ensure members of its armed groups complied with international law.

Maldives was appalled by the climate of impunity in the Occupied Territories.  Human rights continued to be denied and disproportionate use of force, deliberate destruction of infrastructure, and growing illegal settlements persisted.  Maldives expressed concern about administrative detentions without prosecution and the cruel and harsh treatment of detainees.  The Council should remain focused on the plight of the people in the occupied Arab territories, particularly in the face Israel’s deliberate lack of cooperation which made a mockery of the Council.  The culture of impunity should end.

Cuba, speaking in its own capacity, said that Israel continued to flout the decisions of the Council and other United Nations system bodies.  The Palestinian nation continued to be deprived of its most basic rights, including the right to self-determination, and was submitted to such living conditions that it might disappear altogether.  Decisions of the Council remained applicable and had to be urgently implemented.  Cuba supported the right of Palestine to become a fully-fledged member of the United Nations.

China called on Israel to release Palestinian detainees and improve living and medical care conditions, and hoped that it would completely lift the siege against Gaza as soon as possible.  China also hoped that the international community would continue to provide assistance and support to the Palestinian people.  Israel and Palestine should resolve their differences through dialogue and negotiations so that an independent Palestinian State could be established and the two countries could live in peace.

Indonesia said it shared the concern about the persistent lack of cooperation by Israel to uphold and fulfill its obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law and noted that Israel’s recent refusal to cooperate with the Council was a valid example of that.  Indonesia was disturbed by the report of the United Nations Children’s Fund that there had been a significant increase in children being killed or injured compared to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2011.

Malaysia said that the world continued to witness the never-ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict that had become more complex.  It was regrettable that Israel refused to heed the calls of the international community to lift the blockade that would allow Gazans to resume construction and economic activities.  Malaysia demanded the release of the Palestinian prisoners, condemned the brutish violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people, and urged the Council to continue to follow-up on the implementation of the recommendations by the Fact-Finding Mission.

Jordan said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was at the heart of the conflict in the Middle East and a solution must be found with respect to the rights of the Palestinian people and the relevant United Nations resolutions.  Israel must release Palestinian prisoners and stop the expansion of settlements and the judiasation of East Jerusalem, and the international community must shoulder its responsibility to stop all those violations and resume negotiations between Israel and Palestine.

Ecuador supported the right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent State and the right of Israel to live in security.  Ecuador was concerned about the illegal Israeli settlements and believed that those who took the lives of Palestinian civilians, including in settlement areas, must not enjoy impunity.   Ecuador reaffirmed its support for steps to ensure the resumption of the negotiations towards a lasting peace and the absolute respect for human rights.

Saudi Arabia reiterated concerns regarding increased settlement activities in East Jerusalem, as noted by the Secretary-General in his report, underlining that settlements constituted an important obstacle to peace.   Other measures, such as demolitions, arbitrary confiscation, and destruction of Palestinian property and farmland were also taking place.  Saudi Arabia called on the international community to prevent continuing settlement activities and to implement relevant United Nations resolutions, and looked forward to the report mandated by the Council on the impact of settlements on the human rights of Palestinians.

Bangladesh said that the persistence of the occupation of Palestinian and Arab territories was deeply frustrating.  The situation continued to deteriorate with more settlements, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention.  Bangladesh was deeply concerned at the continuation of administrative detention, limiting of Palestinians’ access to the sea, and the continuation of the construction of settlements.  Bangladesh reiterated its concerns about the use of live ammunition and rubber bullets against unarmed fishermen, ill-treatment and illegal confiscation of private property.

Kuwait condemned the systematic violations of human rights and international law identified in the report of the Secretary-General, including blocking maritime access and detentions in the Occupied Territories.  The international community continued to be helpless in the face of Israel’s refusal to implement the relevant resolutions and recommendations, including those by the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza conflict.  It was vital to respect the Palestinian right to self-determination and a lasting peace could only be achieved after a sovereign Palestinian State was established.

Qatar said it was extremely alarmed by the fact that Israel stubbornly refused to cooperate with United Nations mechanisms.  Qatar strongly condemned Israel’s acts of aggression against the Palestinian people and its violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.  Qatar also strongly condemned any attempt to judaise Jerusalem and alter its geographic and demographic characteristics.  The continued blockage on Gaza was a flagrant violation of international law and an affront to human rights. 

Libya, through the Human Rights Council, called on the international community to bear its responsibility and take all measures to protect Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons, especially women and children.  Despite the international community and institutions’ continued efforts to realize the Palestinians’ right to self- determination, the Israeli Government defied international will.  The Israeli decision to cut relations with the Council was an alarming precedent, meaning that countries could simply opt out of the system without consequences. 

Egypt said that the latest developments showed that human rights challenges faced by inhabitants of the Palestinian and other Arab occupied territories were on the rise.  It was not logical for the wave of freedom and change that had covered the Middle East not to include the inhabitants of the occupied Palestinian and other occupied Arab lands.  Non-participation of a delegation in meetings of the Council in no way meant that obligations were no longer incumbent on the State in relation to international human rights law or international humanitarian law.

Tunisia condemned all violations of the rights of the Palestinian people through the blockade, illegal settlements and land grabbing.  Many of the Palestinian prisoners were incarcerated for their political views or for human rights activism.  Tunisia was concerned about the inhumane conditions in the Israeli prisons and the health of the prisoners, particularly those who had started a hunger strike against the imprisonment and torture they were exposed to. 

Sri Lanka remained deeply concerned about the hardships endured by the Palestinian people and was disappointed that no tangible progress was made in the realization of two State solution.  Sri Lanka was concerned about the lack of cooperation by Israel with international mechanisms of legality and said that the blockade on Gaza had had a devastating impact on the people and their socio-economic situation, particularly the youth.  Israel should immediately lift the blockade as per Security Council resolution 1860.

Iraq welcomed the efforts by the Palestinian National Authority in implementing the recommendations and findings of the Goldstone report and the Fact-Finding Mission in Gaza.  Iraq condemned the continued lack of cooperation of Israel with the Human Rights Council, the main body in charge of human rights protection within the United Nations system.  The international community should continue to follow up on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report.

Morocco said that the Secretary-General’s report concluded that no improvement had been achieved and the suffering of the Palestinian people continued due to the occupation and the curtailment of basic rights, including violence, limitation of basic freedoms, limitation of property, settlement activities, and illegal and administrative detention.  The international community should act in response to these violations of human rights and dignity that sabotaged the possibility of a peaceful solution to the conflict on the basis of land for peace.

Algeria was extremely concerned about the fact that Israel had failed to cooperate and implement relevant United Nations resolutions and continued to impose a maritime blockade in defiance of international law.  It was up to the international community to take measures to bring the occupying force in line with resolutions, including those by the Council and those stemming from the work of the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza conflict.

South Africa said that three years after the publication of the report of the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza conflict, its recommendations had not been implemented.  The Council was yet to live up to its mandate to protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Palestinian people.  Palestinian and Israeli non-governmental organizations continued to document and report publicly on violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in contrast to the deafening silence and lack of action in the Council.

Turkey said that the international community should be firm in its condemnation and rejection of Israel’s illegal and unacceptable policies.  Turkey had always promoted a two-State solution that would create a Palestinian State, and in that vein it supported Palestine’s United Nations membership application.  It denounced Israel’s refusal to cooperate with the Council and the Council had to concretely address that disrespectful attitude.

Bahrain said that the Council had a duty to take appropriate measures to face Israel’s decision to suspend cooperation with it.  The extension of settlements over the past few months was a clear violation of international law and Bahrain condemned this.  Bahrain was extremely concerned by the continued judaisation of the Golan Heights.  It was the international community’s duty not to turn a blind eye or justify those violations, or it would be admitting that it had given up. 

Iran
said that the depth and expanse of the gross and systematic violations of human rights of the Palestinian people by the Israeli regime in total defiance of international law, numerous United Nations resolutions and human rights principles, were more than known to the international community.  It was high time for the Council to more effectively defend the human rights of the Palestinian people and adopt a firm position and urge the international community to counter the said regime’s policies and practices against the defenseless Palestinians. 

United Arab Emirates , speaking in its national capacity, said that the great majority of homes and schools that had been destroyed during the Israeli attack on Gaza four years ago had not been rehabilitated yet.  Israeli’s unjust fishing laws were preventing tens of thousands of Palestinian fishermen from earning a living.  The United Arab Emirates asked about the future of the recommendations that had not been implemented and the course of action of the Human Rights Council in this regard.

Oman said that the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and occupied Arab territories was getting worse every day because of the disproportionate use of force against civilians.  This called for a reaction from this Council and an investigation in the events.  Israel must respect its international obligations with regard to the Palestinian people and the international community must shoulder its responsibilities towards the Palestinian people and ensure durable peace.

Iceland said that a recent United Nations report noted that Gaza would be no longer liveable in 2020 unless urgent action was taken.  The blockade of Gaza and the situation in the West Bank with the restriction of the freedom of movement of the Palestinian people and the continued construction of Israeli settlements represented serious human rights violations.  The on-going conflict and the occupation represented a failure of the international community to bring about the change that the Palestinian people deserved.

Venezuela took note of the report and said that the human rights situation in Palestine and the Occupied Arab Territories had not been resolved in over 60 years.  For over 40 years, Palestinians had been suffering from the consequences of occupation.  The Security Council approach had led to double standards and duplicity, which entailed the violation of international law.  Venezuela condemned the use of force against civilians, the blockade of the Gaza strip, and the continuation of settlement activities, to the detriment of the enjoyment of rights of the Palestinian population.

Lebanon followed with great interest the Secretary-General’s report and was not surprised to hear about Israel’s lack of cooperation with international mechanisms.  Israel’s boycott of the Council was unprecedented.  Human rights violations and the creation of new settlements should cease.  Israel should free detainees illegally held and put an end to the occupation of the Golan Heights and the Palestinian lands.  There could be no peaceful solution without respect for the rights of the Palestinians.

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in a joint statement said that as a consequence of the “Operation Case Lead” thousands of civilians in the Gaza Strip required compensation for the death and injury of their love ones and destroyed property.  Despite the submission of 409 criminal complaints, only one of the complaints had resulted in a soldier being charged.  The response of the Israeli justice system was not proportionate to the illegal actions that Israeli soldiers had committed against Palestinian civilians.

Mouvement contre le racism et pour l’amitié entre les peuples in a joint statement called upon the Council to, among others, recommend to the General Assembly to adopt a resolution calling for sanctions against Israel, and to immediately dispatch a Fact-Finding Mission on the consequences of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including occupied East Jerusalem.

Organization for Defending Victims of Violence expressed deep concern about the health, mental and hygiene conditions of the Palestinian people, and called upon the relevant international organizations to fulfill their duties in the reduction of the pain and suffering of Palestinians, as well as force Israel to observe and respect the rights of prisoners and its international commitments. 

Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations directed the Council’s attention to yet another attempt by a ship that sailed from Sweden last month and planned to break the Gaza blockade sometime next month, and wondered why the organizers were again heading for Gaza rather than Syria.  While Gaza received more foreign aid on a per capita basis than almost any other recipient, Syria’s two million internally displaced persons had to fend for themselves. 

BADIL Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights in a joint statement said that Israel discriminated, expropriated and displaced by force the indigenous Palestinian population from the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel proper, and called on the Council to investigate practices and policies of Israel aiming at the forcible displacement of Palestinian citizens.

Al-Haq in a joint statement said that recently an Israeli court had absolved its military from any wrongdoing leading to the death of Rachel Corrie, claiming that Israel bore no responsibility for harm inflicted upon civilians during war-related action.  This verdict set a serious precedent that could be applied to other cases involving the death of civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Union of Arab Jurists in a joint statement said that the most serious of the violations by Israel was the suffering of Palestinian children imprisoned in Israeli prisons.  Even though the decision of Israel to impose its law on the occupied Syrian Golan had been declared illegitimate by the United Nations, Israeli occupation had been forcibly displacing Syrians and constructing illegal settlements in clear violation of international law.

Defence for Children International said that since January 2011 there had been 12 incidents in which fishing boats containing children had been intercepted by Israeli patrol boats off the coast of Gaza.  The fishermen had reportedly been harassed and humiliated by Israeli patrol boats, been fired upon, sprayed with water cannons, detained and interrogated without any legitimate reason while fishing.  Defence for Children International called on Israel to respect the rights to fish off the coast of Gaza and not to interrogate them in violation of its international obligations. 

Norwegian Refugee Council said that in Gaza 15,700 people remained displaced as a consequence of the Israeli military operation “Cast Lead.”  Over 4,000 had been displaced three times or more due to their inability to reconstruct their homes and during the same operation 3,481 homes had been destroyed or severely damaged and, since the end the campaign, an additional 1,753 houses had been destroyed. 

Maryam Ghasemi Educational Charity Institute said that Israel’s discriminatory policy in East Jerusalem violated the basic rights of Palestinian residents, including the suspension of permits and other strategic tactics aimed at reducing the number of Palestinians living there.  Leaving Palestinian people stateless had several negative consequences and the Institute called on the Council to make Israel observe its international commitments. 

United Nations Watch recalled that several speakers criticized Israel’s absence.  It was important for the Council to reflect why it was felt that it was made to leave.  This agenda item was built into every session and examined Israel only.  The debate focused on the implementation of the Goldstone report.  Judge Goldstone had disavowed the report’s main accusation and so it was illogical that the Council still met in this respect. 


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC12/118E