On the 58th anniversary of International Human Rights Day, Israeli violations of human rights continue and Palestinian civilians are the victims
The 10th of December 2006 marks the 58th anniversary of International Human Rights Day, the date which was chosen to honor the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation, on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the first global enunciation of human rights.
This anniversary is being commemorated while the Palestinian people continue to live under Israeli belligerent occupation, which has continued for almost 40 years. Under this occupation, the Palestinian people are subject to many forms of human rights violations that contradict the basic principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the rights to life, liberty and security of person, through willful killings, extra-judicial executions, torture, collective punishment, and cruel and degrading treatment. Violations also include: arbitrary arrests; the deprivation of the right to freedom of movement; confiscation and destruction of property; and denial of the rights of work and education.
According to PCHR’s documentation, from the beginning of 2006 until 6 December, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) killed 636 Palestinians, including 526 ones in the Gaza Strip. This number includes 478 civilians (including 119 children and 33 women). It also includes 136 Palestinians, who were extra-judicially executed by IOF, including 46 civilian bystanders. Since 25 June 2006, when an IOF soldier was captured by a Palestinian armed group from an IOF military post in the Gaza Strip, IOF have escalated attacks on Palestinian civilians and their property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), especially in the Gaza Strip. IOF have employed their arsenal to commit horrible crimes, which have killed 473 Palestinians, including 405 ones in the Gaza Strip alone. One of the blatant examples of crimes committed by IOF against Palestinian civilians was the crime committed by IOF in Beit Hanoun on 8 November 2006, when they shelled a number of houses in the town, killing 19 Palestinian civilians, including 17 ones from one family.
IOF have also continued to destroy Palestinian civilian property. They have repeatedly invaded the northern Gaza Strip using excessive force and targeting Palestinian civilians, allegedly to stop the launching of Palestinian home-made rockets at Israeli targets. IOF have destroyed at least 800 houses, including 200 ones that have been completely destroyed. This number includes 73 houses, which have been bombarded by IOF a very short period following warning their owners that they would be attacked. Additionally, IOF have largely destroyed the Palestinian infrastructure, including a number of bridges, roads and Gaza electricity generation plant.
In 2006, IOF have continued to impose a tightened siege on the OPT through closing border crossing and prohibiting the movement of persons and goods. Palestinian patients have not been excluded from this siege as they have been prevented from traveling to hospitals outside the Gaza Strip to receive medical treatment. As a result of the closure of Rafah International Crossing Point, the only outlet for the Gaza Strip to the outside world, a number of Palestinian families were not able to bring the bodies of their relatives, who died at Egyptian hospitals, into the Gaza Strip for burial.
Furthermore, IOF have continued to construct the Annexation Wall inside the West Bank, without taking into consideration the damage afflicted to thousands of Palestinian civilians and their interests. In addition to seizing large areas of Palestinian land in the West Bank and its water resources, at least 210,000 Palestinians living in 67 villages have been impacted by measures taken by IOF to isolate their villages and cut them off from their sources of income.
Palestinians have also been placed under and international siege since the election of the current Palestinian government, reflected in the suspension of international aids and the freeze of the transfer of tax revenues collected by Israel to the Palestinian National Authority. As a consequence, thousands of Palestinians have not received their monthly salaries, which has left catastrophic impacts on their living conditions and has further increased poverty, in violation of their economic and social rights.
PCHR seizes the opportunity of the commemoration of International Human Rights Day to draw the attention again to violations of Palestinian human rights perpetrated by Israel. PCHR reminds the international community of the urgent need to provide protection of Palestinian civilians. PCHR calls upon the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention and relevant human rights and humanitarian agencies to:
1. Stop Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights and provide protection for Palestinian civilians.
2. Obligate Israel to meet its obligations under the International Bill of Human Rights, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which, although not binding, constitute the moral core of the human rights concept.
3. Lift the siege imposed on the Palestinian people.
4. Delegate a neutral international inquiry mission to investigate crimes committed by IOF and consider mechanisms to prosecute the perpetrators of such crimes.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is an independent legal body based in Gaza City dedicated to protecting human rights, promoting the rule of law and upholding democratic principles in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It holds Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations and is an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists, the Federation Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH), and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network. PCHR is a recipient of the 1996 French Republic Award for Human Rights.