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Israel housing policies in East Jerusalem amount to ‘racial segregation’: UN experts

April 28, 2022 at 3:04 am

Israeli forces are seen as Palestinians gather in front of homes threatened by Israeli seizure as Israeli right-wing Knesset member Itamar Ben Gvir and Israeli settlers continue to stage a demonstration in front of the Palestinian residents Salim family’s house in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem on February 16, 2022. [Mostafa Alkharouf – Anadolu Agency]

Israel’s housing policies in East Jerusalem amount to “racial segregation and discrimination” against the Palestinian people and a violation of their human rights, a group of UN experts said Thursday, and Anadolu News Agency reports.

The experts made their assessment based on reports that Palestinians have been subject to “discriminatory zoning and planning”.

These restrict access to housing, safe drinking water and sanitation and other essential services, including healthcare and educational facilities.

“The discriminatory zoning and planning regime in East Jerusalem, which prioritises zoning for Israeli settlements and limits housing options for Palestinians, clearly amounts to segregation based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin,” the experts said in a statement.

“Racially segregated settlements have had significant and lasting consequences on the standards of living of the Palestinian people,” they noted.

They called attention to the detrimental effect of the measures on Palestinians and Bedouin communities in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

They cited a report to the UN Human Rights Council in March that said Israel’s 55-year occupation of the Palestinian territory constitutes “apartheid.”

6 Palestinians shot dead

They expressed alarm about reports that Palestinian protests over the establishment of the “Evyatar” outpost and Israel’s exclusive control over the distribution of public spaces met “disproportionate violence and systematic suppression.”

“We have received reports that protesters have been subjected to indiscriminate and excessive use of force, arbitrary detention, torture and collective punishment,” they said.

“At least six Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli security forces or Israel settlers while protesting the establishment of the settlement.”

The UN experts urged the international community to independently investigate military conduct and law enforcement operations.

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They called for an end to the “occupying power’s ongoing impunity for excessive use of force” against Palestinians in protests, search-and-arrest procedures and at checkpoints.

“Israel, as the internationally-recognised occupying power of the Palestinian territory, has significant obligations under international human rights law, which it has repeatedly violated,” the experts said.

They urged the international community to adopt robust accountability measures to end the occupation and enable Palestinian self-determination swiftly.

The UN experts said they have officially communicated with the Israeli government to address these allegations and clarify its obligations under international law.