UN to Israel: ‘Stop Tearing Down Palestinian Homes… Now’

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories demanded that Israel immediately stop tearing down Palestinian homes, noting that the number of people affected by the demolition of Palestinian buildings has risen by 87 per cent compared to last year.
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Israeli settlement viewed from the Um-al-Kher bedouin community in the West Bank | Photo: OCHA

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“Already this year, Israeli authorities have demolished over 330 Palestinian structures, including homes, animal shelters, water cisterns and roads,” Richard Falk, said in a news releaseHe stressed that half of the 536 Palestinians who have been displaced in 2012 are children, noting that “such demolitions amount to violations against 2,100 Palestinians,” the UN reports.
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Falk described as “deeply troubling” the situation in the West Bank community of Susiya, where over 160 Palestinians, including 120 children, will be forcibly displaced if the demolition orders are executed by Israel.
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“Israelis expand their illegal outposts near Susiya, without any effort by the Government of Israel to hinder them. At the same time, the Israeli High Court of Justice facilitates the demolition of Palestinians’ homes nearby,” Falk said
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Senior UN officials Repeatedly Called for an End to Israel’s Demolition of Palestinian Homes
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He recalled that an appeal from an Israeli settler organization Regavim to the High Court had led to demolition orders against Palestinians in Susiya.“Such discrimination is part and parcel of Israel’s occupation of Palestine,” the expert said, adding that if Israeli authorities want to respect their international legal obligations, they will freeze the demolition orders in Susiya.
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Senior UN officials have repeatedly called for an end to Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied territories, particularly the West Bank, stressing that, as the occupying Power, Israel has a fundamental responsibility to protect the Palestinian civilian population under its control and to ensure their dignity and well-being.
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Falk, who has served in his post since 2008, is scheduled presented his report to the current session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
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Special rapporteurs, or independent experts, are appointed by the Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. They work in an independent and unpaid capacity.
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More Rights Abuses

Earlier this month, Falk  expressed deep concern over the fate of two Palestinian prisoners detained without charges by Israel, and called for their immediate release, the UN reported.

“These individuals are protesting against their detention without charges and are suffering immensely for it,” said the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, in a news release.

Unaceeptable

“There is no acceptable basis for continuing to hold these persons, and Israel will be responsible if any permanent harm results. ”The two prisoners are Mahmoud Sarsak, who is on the 82nd day of his hunger strike, and Akram Rikhawi, who is on the 58th day of his hunger strike. Mr. Sarsak has lost one third of his body weight and Mr. Rikhawi is suffering from aggravated diabetes and asthma,” Falk said on 8 June.

“If Israeli officials cannot present evidence to support charges against these men, then they must be released immediately.”“Israel must end the appalling and unjust treatment of Palestinian prisoners and the international community needs to raise its voice and take steps to end Israel’s flagrant misuse of administrative detention,” the Special Rapporteur added.

Massive Hunger Strikes against Arbitrary Detentions

In December last year, Palestinian prisoners began a series of hunger strikes, Falk noted, adding that the strikes have “called attention to Israel’s abusive reliance on administrative detention, but also to conditions that fail to meet legal standards of international humanitarian law for the more than 4,000 Palestinians imprisoned.”

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Israel currently has approximately 300 Palestinians detained without charges.“I have requested information regarding each of these persons and I will follow up on each case and address this matter in my forthcoming report to the Human Rights Council,” Falk said.

His report to the Council is due on 2 July 2012. Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not United Nations staff, nor are they paid for their work.

Special Coordinator foe Middle East Peace Process “Deeply Troubled”

On 3 May, a senior United Nations official said he was deeply troubled by reports about the critical condition of at least two Palestinians being held by Israel, who have been on hunger strike for over two months, and urged the Government to preserve the health of the prisoners.

The Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, urged all sides to “find a solution before it is too late,” according to a statement issued by his office in Jerusalem.

More than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners began an open-ended hunger strike two weeks ago on 17 April – Palestinian Prisoners Day – to protest against unjust arrest procedures, arbitrary detention and bad prison conditions, according to a news release issued by the UN human rights office (OHCHR).

The UN continues to follow with concern the many issues related to the question of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and detention centres, the statement noted.

“Israel to Abide by its Legal Obligations under International Law”

“The Special Coordinator is deeply troubled in particular, by reports about the critical condition of at least two Palestinian prisoners being held in administrative detention by the Israeli authorities, who have been on hunger strike for more than two months,” it said.

Serry called on Israel to abide by its legal obligations under international law and “do everything in its power to preserve the health of the prisoners.

”Yesterday, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Richard Falk, said he was appalled by the ongoing human rights violations in Israeli prisons amid a wave of hunger strikes by Palestinian prisoners. He called on the international community to ensure that Israel complies with international human rights laws and norms in its treatment of Palestinian prisoners.

Punitive Measures against Palestinians on Hunger Strike

Prison authorities have reportedly taken punitive measures against those on hunger strike, including by denying them family and lawyer visits, confiscating their personal belongings and placing them in solitary confinement, the news release added.

“I am appalled by the continuing human rights violations in Israeli prisons and I urge the Government of Israel to respect its international human rights obligations towards all Palestinian prisoners,” said Falk.

“Israel must treat those prisoners on hunger strike in accordance with international standards, including by allowing the detainees visits from their family members,” Falk added.

20 Percent of Palestinian Population Have Gone through Detention

The independent expert noted that since the 1967 war, an estimated 750,000 Palestinians, including 23,000 women and 25,000 children, have gone through detention in Israeli jails.

This constitutes approximately 20 per cent of the total Palestinian population in the occupied territory or 40 per cent of the Palestinian male population there. “Israel’s wide use of administrative detention flies in the face of international fair trial standards,” said Falk, who noted that Israel currently holds around 300 Palestinians in administrative detention.

“Detainees must be able to effectively challenge administrative detention orders, including by ensuring that lawyers have full access to the evidence on which the order was issued.”

The Special Rapporteur called on the international community to ensure that Israel complies with international human rights laws and norms in its treatment of Palestinians.

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Unequal Under the Law – Interview with Israeli Historian Ilan Pappé

“Forget About Him, He’s Not Here”

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‘Denying the Existence of the Palestinian People Is an ‘Article of Faith’

Palestine: Yet Another One Hundred Years of Solitude

Palestinians Without Hope … Once More

Requiem For Palestine (I): A Conflict Born With A Solution

Requiem For Palestine (II): Can Gruyere Be A Solution?

Middle East Nuclear Free Bid Moves to Finland – Yet Another Lost Chance?

‘Urgent Need to Further Protect Palestinian Children Against Israeli Violence’

UN Urges Israel ‘To Prevent Settler Attacks against Palestinian Villages’

2012 Human Wrongs Watch

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