On Wednesday morning, 26 May 2021, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights welcomed Ambassador Torunn Viste and First Secretary Mr. Sigbjørn Litland from the Representative Office of Norway to the Palestinian Authority, as well as a delegation from the Representative Office of the Federal Republic of Germany in Ramallah composed of Mr. Christian Clages, Head of Mission, Ms. Hanna Ilge, Deputy Head of Development Cooperation, and Mr. Niko Fritscher, First Secretary. Mr. Raji Sourani, Director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, was also present at the meeting.
The delegates were briefed on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and the ongoing humanitarian crises in the Gaza Strip pursuant to Israel’s prolonged and unlawful closure and following Israel’s recent military offensive. In the course of the 11-day assault, Israel’s massive and disproportionate use of heavy munitions led to the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian homes as well as civilian infrastructure. Several attacks saw entire Palestinian families wiped out as the Israeli military targeted homes without prior warning and often in the middle of the night. The tally of Palestinian victims includes hundreds of fatalities and casualties, while tens of thousands were forcibly displaced. Israel’s airstrikes also led to the large-scale destruction of power and water networks, as well as thousands of square meters of vital paved roads. In the aftermath of Israel’s military offensive, the humanitarian conditions in Gaza are expected to deteriorate even further, notably as Israel continues to tighten its closure and blockade policy.
The meeting discussed the need to activate justice and accountability mechanisms as the only means to effectively challenge Israel’s cycle of impunity, hold perpetrators accountable, and deter future crimes. Palestinian civilians shoulder the heaviest burden in the conflict. A further vital point was stressed: Israel’s violations across the oPt, especially in Jerusalem, amount to ethnic cleansing.
Finally, the participants confirmed their position against any view that equates perpetrators and victims. In this regard, the international community, notably Member States of the European Union, is called upon to take concrete measures to uphold fundamental values and principles of justice, bearing in mind the serious war crimes and crimes against humanity apparently perpetrated against the Palestinian people.