UN Condemns Israel’s Closures in Hebron as ‘Collective Punishment’

Human Wrongs Watch

25 July 2016 – The United Nations relief agency charged with the well-being of Palestinian refugees has said that a closure imposed by Israeli authorities in Hebron district is creating serious challenges for humanitarian access, including the delivery of medical supplies, the removal of refuse, and the daily movement of the agency’s staff working inside refugee camp.*

One of several junctions leading to and from Palestinian villages and towns in Hebron governorate blocked by Israeli forces in late June 2016. Photo: OCHA

The closure was implemented following a series of violent incidents that took place before the end of Ramadan in which two Israelis were killed. It has particularly affected the Fawwar refugee camp, impacting approximately 9,500 refugees.

“I condemn the closure as it collectively punishes the Fawwar camp residents,” said Scott Anderson, West Bank Field Director at the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), in statement issued by the agency today.

“Echoing the UN’s repeated statements condemning violence against civilians, I call upon the Israeli authorities to refrain from collectively punishing innocent people for the acts of others,” he added.

UNRWA highlighted that the closure has impacted the population both socially and economically, as well as placed an increased health risk for camp residents.

The main entrance is closed to vehicles, hampering the residents’ ability to report to their work outside the camp.

While pedestrians can still use the entrance, the extra distance that many have to travel incurs additional expenses that further affect their already bleak financial situation.

It further noted that disruptions to the supply chain are increasing the costs of basic commodities inside the camp.

Anderson visited the area on 19 July and was granted exceptional access through Fawwar main entrance only after coordination with the Israeli authorities.

“This is all the more disturbing when Fawwar camp residents – a refugee couple – were the first to respond to the Israeli family following the drive-by shooting incident, providing them with first aid before the arrival of the ambulances,” he said, referring to one of the violent attacks.

The statement further underscored that the UN, including Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has repeatedly condemned, in the strongest terms, all such attacks and violence impacting Israeli and Palestinian civilians.

UNRWA said that will continue to liaise with the Israeli authorities to request passage of medical supplies in the camp in order to ensure their continuous supply for its health clinic.

Recalling the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a party and which applies to occupied territories, the agency called upon the Israeli authorities to end the closures and to ensure unimpeded access for its staff and humanitarian assistance across the West Bank. (*Source: UN).

Torching of house in occupied West Bank draws UN official’s concern

Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov. UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz


The United Nations official coordinating the peace process toward resolving the longstanding conflict between Israel and Palestine on 20 July 2016 expressed concern about reports of yet another arson attack targeting a Palestinian family in Duma in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.**

“If confirmed, this despicable act would be the third incident in this particular village in the last year,” said the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov.

On 31 July last year, Jewish extremists set fire to the home of a Palestinian family, killing 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha and his parents, and leaving four year-old Ahmed orphaned.

“Indictments have been made, but the perpetrators of this terrible crime have yet to face justice,” Mladenov said.

According to media reports, the latest attack is on a relative of the family attacked on 31 July.

The third attack refers to an incident in March, in which the house of Ibrahim Mohammed Dawabsha, the only living witness to the 31 July attack, was set alight.

Mladenov called on the authorities to move swiftly in bringing all the perpetrators to justice, including those responsible for the incident last night.

He also urged Israel, as the occupying power, to ensure that vulnerable Palestinian communities in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are protected in line with its obligations under international law. (**Source: UN).

2016 Human Wrongs Watch


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