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Senior UN officials slam Israeli human rights abuses

Israel’s human rights abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territory came under renewed attack by senior UN officials on Monday.

Addressing the Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967 Makarim Wibisono heavily criticised Israel’s assault on Gaza last year.

“The ferocity of destruction and high proportion of civilian lives lost in Gaza cast serious doubts over Israel’s adherence to international humanitarian law principles of proportionality, distinction and precautions in attack.”

Wibisono described the “lack of respect for human rights” as having “permeated almost every aspect of the daily lives of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza”, touching upon Israel’s “excessive use of force”, as well as settlement construction, threats of “forcible transfer”, and more.

The UN official also noted that “treatment of Palestinians, including children in Israeli detention, was an issue of grave concern” and that Israel “had done too little to follow up on the report [two years ago] by the United Nations Children’s Fund” on the ill-treatment of children in military detention.

The Council was also presented with a report of the Secretary-General on Israeli settlements in the OPT and Syrian Golan, which he said continued to expand.

The Secretary-General described how “Israeli settlements and acts of violence committed by Israeli settlers against Palestinians continue to underpin a broad spectrum of human rights violations against Palestinians.”

The report urged Israel to “cease all settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as in the occupied Syrian Golan, and implement relevant United Nations resolutions.”

A second Secretary-General report on the broader human rights situation in the OPT, covering the period from May 2013 to October 2014, further noted that settlements “undermine Palestinian territorial integrity, contrary to international law, and Palestinians’ right to self-determination.”

Obstacles to peace and to Palestinians’ enjoyment of their human rights, including their right to self-determination, must be removed. That means the ending and reversal of all settlement activity in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the full lifting of the blockade on Gaza and the ending of the occupation of Palestinian land.

Mary McGowan Davis, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict, gave the Council an oral update on the progression of the Commission. Davis said that Israel had not responded to a request for access, and, that the written report would be presented in June.

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