Israeli violations of international law and international humanitarian law in the oPt continued during the reporting period (21 –27 January 2016).Israeli attacks in the West Bank & Gaza:
Israeli forces have continued to commit crimes, inflicting civilian casualties. They have also continued to use excessive force against Palestinian civilians participating in peaceful protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the majority of whom were youngsters. Occupied East Jerusalem witnessed similar attacks. During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed three Palestinian civilians, including two children, in the West Bank. Moreover, they wounded 22 civilians, including three children; 12 of whom, including a child, were wounded in the Gaza Strip while the remaining others were wounded in the West Bank. Concerning the nature of injuries, 11 civilians were hit with live bullets and 11 others were hit with rubber-coated metal bullets.
In the West Bank, Israeli forces killed three Palestinian civilians, including two children, and wounded 11 others, including two children also. Five of the wounded persons were hit with live bullets and five others were hit with rubber-coated metal bullets.
During the reporting period,Israeli forces conducted at least 73 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and four ones in occupied East Jerusalem.During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 47Palestinian civilians, including seven children. Elevenof these civilians, including four children,were arrested in East Jerusalem.
Among the arrested were Hatem Qafisha (56), PLC member representing the Change and Reform Bloc of Hamas movement, and engineer Essa al-Ja’bari (49), a leader in Hamas movement and former Minister in the 10th Palestinian Government. Both of them were arrested from their houses in Hebron.
Efforts to create a Jewish majority
In the context of house demolitions and demolition notices issued on grounds of non-licensing construction works, on 22 January 2016, Dabash family was obliged to self-demolish their house in sour Baher village, southwest of occupied Jerusalem, under the pretext of non-licensing. They self-demolished the house to avoid paying the fine demolition costs to the Israeli municipality. It should be noted that the 80-square-meter house was built 20 years ago. The Israeli forces imposed fines on the family several times for building without a license, but a final decision was taken to the Israeli court to oblige the family self-demolish the house on 24 January 2016.
On 23 January 2016, Israeli forces accompanied by special forces and police officers moved into a number of neighbourhoods in Silwan village, south of the Old City in East Jerusalem. They distributed notices to owners of a number of residential buildings and commercial facilities to refer to the municipality.
On 27 January 2016, Israeli municipality vehicles demolished an underconstruction house in al-Sal’ah neighbourhood in al-Mukaber Mount village, southeast of occupied Jerusalem. The house belongs to Mousa Surri, who was finishing the house to move in along with his family within the coming weeks. The house cost him NIS 130,000.
On the same day, Israeli municipality vehicles demolished a house belonging to the family of Kefaya al-Resheq, north of occupied Jerusalem. The house sheltering 19 family members was demolished in favour of establishing Road 21 that has been planned for since the 90s.
Restrictions on movement
Israel continued to impose a tight closure of the oPt, imposing severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.
The illegal closure of the Gaza Strip, which has been steadily tightened since June 2007 has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli authorities impose measures to undermine the freedom of trade, including the basic needs for the Gaza Strip population and the agricultural and industrial products to be exported. For 9 consecutive years, Israel has tightened the land and naval closure to isolate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, and other countries around the world. This resulted in grave violations of the economic, social and cultural rights and a deterioration of living conditions for 1.8 million people. The Israeli authorities have established Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shaloum) as the sole crossing for imports and exports in order to exercise its control over the Gaza Strip’s economy. They also aim at imposing a complete ban on the Gaza Strip’s exports. The Israeli closure raised the rate of poverty to 38.8%, 21.1% of which suffer from extreme poverty. Moreover, the rate of unemployment increased up to 44%, which reflects the unprecedented economic deterioration in the Gaza Strip.
On 21 January 2016, Israeli forces demolished an agricultural room, a wells and pillars to establish a livestock barrack, west of Beit Oula village, west of Hebron. The demolition was carried out under that no permit was obtained from the competent authorities in the Israeli Civil Administration and the abovementioned utilities are located in area (C).
On 22 January 2016, Israeli forces informed the residents of Karma village, east of Doura, southwest of Hebron, of levelling a road under the pretext that it was located in area (C). It should be noted that the abovementioned road was the only way out of the village for Palestinian vehicles after Israeli forces had closed the main entrance to the village for years.
Recommendations to the International Community:
PCHR emphasizes the international community’s position that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are still under Israeli occupation, in spite of Israeli military redeployment outside the Gaza Strip in 2005. PCHR further confirms that Israeli forces continued to impose collective punishment measures on the Gaza Strip, which have escalated since the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, in which Hamas won the majority of seats of the Palestinian Legislative Council. PCHR stresses that there is international recognition of Israel’s obligation to respect international human rights instruments and the international humanitarian law, especially the Hague Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land and the Geneva Conventions. Israel is bound to apply the international human rights law and the law of war sometime reciprocally and other times in parallel in a way that achieves the best protection for civilians and remedy for victims.
In light of continued arbitrary measures, land confiscation and settlement activities in the West Bank, and the latest 51-day offensive against civilians in the Gaza Strip, PCHR calls upon the international community, especially the United Nations, the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention and the European Union – in the context of their natural obligation to respect and enforce the international law – to cooperate and act according to the following recommendations:
1. PCHR calls upon the international community and the United Nations to use all available means to allow the Palestinian people to enjoy their right to self-determination, through the establishment of the Palestinian State, which was recognized by the UN General Assembly with a vast majority, using all international legal mechanisms, including sanctions to end the occupation of the State of Palestine;
2. PCHR calls upon the United Nations to provide international protection to Palestinians in the oPt, and to ensure the non-recurrence of aggression against the oPt, especially the Gaza Strip;
3. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to compel Israel, as a High Contracting Party to the Conventions, to apply the Conventions in the oPt;
4. PCHR calls upon the Parties to international human rights instruments, especially the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to pressurize Israel to comply with their provisions in the oPt, and to compel it to incorporate the human rights situation in the oPt in its reports submitted to the concerned committees;
5. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfil their obligation to ensure the application of the Conventions, including extending the scope of their jurisdiction in order to prosecute suspected war criminals, regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator and the place of a crime, to pave the way for prosecuting suspected Israeli war criminals and end the longstanding impunity they have enjoyed;
6. PCHR calls on States that apply the principle of universal jurisdiction not to surrender to Israeli pressure to limit universal jurisdiction to perpetuate the impunity enjoyed by suspected Israeli war criminals;
7. PCHR calls upon the international community to act in order to stop all Israeli settlement expansion activities in the oPt through imposing sanctions on Israeli settlements and criminalizing trading with them;
8. PCHR calls upon the UN General Assembly to transfer the Goldstone Report to the UN Security Council in order to refer it to the International Criminal Court in accordance with Article 13(b) of the Rome Statute;
9. PCHR calls upon the United Nations to confirm that holding war criminals in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a precondition to achieve stability and peace in the regions, and that peace cannot be built on the expense of human rights;
10. PCHR calls upon the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council to explicitly declare that the Israeli closure policy in Gaza and the annexation wall in the West Bank are illegal, and accordingly refer the two issues to the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Israel to compel it to remove them;
11. PCHR calls upon the international community, in light of its failure to the stop the aggression on the Palestinian people, to at least fulfil its obligation to reconstruct the Gaza Strip after the series of hostilities launched by Israel which directly targeted the civilian infrastructure;
12. PCHR calls upon the United Nations and the European Union to express a clear position towards the annexation wall following the international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders, as the annexation wall seizes large parts of the State of Palestine;
13. PCHR calls upon the European Union to activate Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which provides that both sides must respect human rights as a precondition for economic cooperation between the EU states and Israel, and the EU must not ignore Israeli violations and crimes against Palestinian civilians;
Fully detailed document available at the official PCHR website.