Letters and Appeals

At the Human Rights Council, Al Mezan addresses Israel’s unlawful collective punishment of the Palestinian people

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16 July 2020

44th Regular Human Rights Council Session

Item 7: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967


Date: 16 July 2020

Speaker: Nuriya Oswald, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights


NGOs in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) joining this statement:

  • Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel
  • Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man
  • Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies


We thank Special Rapporteur Lynk for his report addressing Israel’s illegal collective punishment of the Palestinian people. In his report, the Special Rapporteur affirms that "Like torture, there are no permissible exceptions to the use of collective punishment in law. And, like torture, the use of collective punishment flouts law and morality, dignity and justice, and stains all those who practice it."


Israel’s collective punishment is manifested through an array of discriminatory policies and practices designed to punish Palestinians, including through punitive house demolitions, residency revocation, mass arbitrary detention, the withholding of Palestinians’ bodies, closures and movement restrictions—the most severe of which has been imposed on the Gaza Strip for the past 13 years—as well as the punitive denial of permits for Palestinians, such as work permits and permits for medical travel, excessively impacting Palestinian patients and their companions in Gaza.


Through collective punishment, Israel seeks to silence opposition and maintain racial oppression and domination over the Palestinian people. We reiterate the Special Rapporteur’s conclusion that “Israel continues to rely upon collective punishment as a prominent instrument in its coercive toolbox of population control”, and our organizations reaffirm that Israel uses collective punishment to establish and maintain apartheid over the Palestinian people as a whole. These policies and practices are not carried out in a vacuum but must be understood within Israel’s broader practices of settler-colonialism.

Madam President,


In his report the Special Rapporteur called on Israel to stop all forms of collective punishment. As the Special Rapporteur pointed out, over the past 25 years, the Security Council, the General Assembly, two Secretaries General, the ICRC and human rights organizations have denounced Israel’s collective punishment policies against the protected Palestinian people. The international community reiterated within this Council that Israel’s collective punishment gravely breaches international law.


In 2019, the UN Commission of Inquiry called on Israel to “Lift the blockade on Gaza with immediate effect.” Member States of the Human Rights Council adopted this recommendation in accountability resolution 40/13; however, it remains unimplemented over a year later.


Despite the international community’s opposition to the Occupying Power’s use of collective punishment, its response has not risen above the level of verbal condemnation. When will this council fulfil its responsibility to put an end to Israeli collective punishment policies by adopting effective measures?


We take this opportunity to remind this Council and its Member States that all High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention have a legal duty to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances, including to bring an end to all forms of collective punishment imposed by Israel, and to uphold the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including to self-determination and return.