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Al Mezan Testifies Before the UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices and Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

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30 June 2013 |Reference 50/2013

Last Wednesday, 26th June 2013, the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights have presented its testimony which covered the period between the committee’s last two meetings before the UN Special Committee to investigate Israeli practices affecting the human rights of Palestinians and other Arabs in the occupied territories.
Al Mezan was represented by Mr.
Samir Zakout, Coordinator of the Field Research Unit at Al Mezan, who presented in the testimony the most significant developments in the occupied territories between 14th July 2012 and 26th June 2013.
Zakout pointed out the ongoing, grave and systematic Israeli violations of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law in the Gaza Strip, particularly manifested in the ongoing blockade and closure of the Gaza Strip imposed for the seventh consecutive year and its grave humanitarian impact on the civilian population in Gaza.
This moreover is coupled with the Israeli attacks on civilian infrastructure in Gaza which has left Gaza nearly paralyzed in light of the constraints on cement, iron and construction material to enter the costal enclave.
Zakout also highlighted the constraints on the movement of goods and individuals, especially medical patients who are prevented from accessing hospitals in the West Bank and inside Israel and the extortion and blackmail policy which Israel employs to have them work as collaborators in return for granting them travel permits.
Al Mezan also underlined the damage inflicted on the health sector and the Palestinian Ministry of Health as a result of the Israeli occupation forces’ policies.
These are mainly represented in the sharp shortages in medicines and medical equipment in addition to the deteriorating health conditions which threaten the lives of the Palestinian people in Gaza.
For example, the lack of clean drinkable water is one factor that contributes to a worsening health condition and an increasing number of infections and diseases.
Al Mezan also pointed out the harm caused to the education sector, injuries and victims among Palestinian school students and teachers, and the damage caused to a large number of schools, including UNRWA schools.
Moreover, Al Mezan presented extensively Israel’s violations during its latest military operation in the Gaza Strip codenamed Operation Pillar of Cloud, and which included killing civilians, destroying civilian and private property and attacking residential houses which resulted in large-scale forced displacement of thousands of families who in many cases took refuge in UNRWA schools.
Al Mezan referred to the Israeli army’s use of so called “roof-knocking” attacks which resulted in the death of one civilian and two injuries.
Al Mezan stresses primarily the attacks on Ad-Dalou, Hijazi and Nasasra families.
Additionally, Al Mezan spoke about the conditions of Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails and the continuing Israeli mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners which constitute a violation of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners adopted in 1955.
Such policies include solitary confinement, medical negligence, strip searching, and administrative detentions, among other things.
The testimony also covered violations in the access-restricted (ARA) areas on land and in the sea and explained their impact of the lives of fishermen and their families.
Al Mezan also summarized the legal procedures which its legal unit implements in the aftermath of violations against fishermen.
Such This is adding to reviewing the legal amendments in the Israeli Torts Law which are meant to prevent Palestinian victims from access justice mechanism and provide Israeli perpetrators with impunity.
Al Mezan briefly mentioned examples of cases which Al Mezan filed at Israeli courts and were dismissed due to the new amendments.
Furthermore, this included complaints which Al Mezan filed with the Israeli Military General calling on him to open investigations into several incidents where serious human rights violations are suspected to have taken place, but the complaints were rejected.
Al Mezan questions the failure of the international community to take tangible and effective steps to end the systematic immunity or to lay the foundations for accountability for violations of IHL and IHRL.
States and international organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN, have described the Israeli siege as an intolerable form of unlawful collective punishment.
In the context of the siege, the systematic immunity, and the ongoing attacks against civilians, the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights condemns these Israeli acts and the silence of the international community.
Therefore, Al Mezan calls on the international community to promptly take effective measures to: · Lift the unlawful and immoral siege imposed on the Gaza Strip by securing free passage of people and commodities, including the construction materials needed for the reconstruction of Gaza, without any further delay; · Ensure the protection of civilians and their property and dignity in the face of the continuing Israeli attacks on the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt); · Enforce international mechanisms of accountability for violators of international law, and provide redress for the victims of violations; and · Accelerate the efforts to end the occupation and secure Palestinians’ collective right to self-determination in accordance with international law.
The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights declares that it will continue its efforts to expose the flagrant violations of IHL and IHRL in the oPt.
It also will continue its work with international and Palestinian human rights organizations to exert pressure on the international community to end its policy of silence and to uphold its legal obligations, particularly those arising from the Fourth Geneva Convention, to ensure protection for civilians and pursue Israeli war criminals.