“Israeli forces have displayed a callous disregard for human life by killing dozens of Palestinian civilians, including children, in the occupied West Bank over the past three years with near total impunity, said Amnesty International in a report published today.
In all cases examined by Amnesty International, Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers did not appear to be posing a direct and immediate threat to life. In some, there is evidence that they were victims of willful killings, which would amount to war crimes.”
The transfer by an Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies constitutes a grave breach of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention and violates the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Such acts are war crimes under international law. Yet this has been the policy of the Government of the State of Israel since the beginning of its occupation in 1967. Forty-six years later, the Israeli settlement enterprise in the Occupied State of Palestine is a profitable undertaking based on the theft and colonization of Palestinian land and natural resources with seemingly no political, legal, or diplomatic cost for Israel. This must change. The European Union (EU) is Israel’s largest import and export market. In 2011, trade between Israel and the EU amounted to 29.4 billion (USD 38.7 billion), of which 12.6 billion (USD 16.6 billion) came from Israeli exports. These figures include trade with Israeli settlements, all of which are illegal according to international law. While official import and export statistics do not reveal the exact volume of exports from the Israeli settlements to the EU, the most recent estimated value is 229 million (USD 300 million) per year.
The plight of the Palestinian prisoners can be considered one of the most arduous humanitarian, political and legal cases of modern times considering its large scale; More than 800,000 detention and imprisonment since the time Palestine was occupied in 1948.
Even before the withdrawal of British forces from Palestine in 1948, Palestinians throughout the country were subjected to widespread terror and horrific acts of violence at the hands of Zionist militias. Massacres and expulsions of Palestinians created an atmosphere of fear and panic that forced hundreds of thousands from their homes. They left behind land and personal possessions that were subsequently stolen by the State of Israel, sometimes out rightly and sometimes through “clever” legislation. One episode that characterizes the atrocities of the Nakba (catastrophe), and highlights the impunity that Israel still enjoys today is the massacre that took place in the village of Deir Yassin in Jerusalem on April 9, 1948. Today, we mark the 65th anniversary of this crime.
- What happened in Deir Yassin?
- Who committed the massacre?
- Was Deir Yassin an isolated event?
- How did Deir Yassin affect Palestinians?
- What happened to the survivors of Deir Yassin?
- What happened to the perpetrators of the massacre?
Over the past few weeks, some news reports have suggested the idea that Israel might freeze settlement construction in the so-called “settlement blocs”. This Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) explains the Palestinian position regarding the matter.
- Why does Israel distinguish between “settlement blocs” and the rest of the Israeli settlements?
- Does the international community accept the Israeli concept of “blocs”?
- Does the Road Map and other previous Israeli commitments differentiate between “Israeli settlement blocs” and the rest of illegal settlements?
- What are the requirements for an Israeli cessation of settlement activities?
Since Israel’s occupation of Palestine in 1967, an estimated 800,000 Palestinians have been detained under Israeli military orders. This constitutes over 20% of the total Palestinian population located therein, including 40% of the male population in the State of Palestine. Currently, around 4700 Palestinian political prisoners are being held in Israeli prisons or detentions camps, including around 200 minors and 15 women. From the total number of prisoners, 15 are elected Palestinian officials, including members of parliament Marwan Bargouthi and Ahmad Saadat. Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights calls for a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law. This is clearly not respected by the Israeli military court system, which fails to provide Palestinian detainees with minimum guarantees of due process. In fact, the conviction rate of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli military court is a staggering 99%. The failures of the system arise from the following:
- Judges, prosecutors and translators are all appointed by an Israeli Military commander, who is the same individual empowered to make changes to Israeli military orders.
- Some judges do not have legal training.
- Lawyers are denied the means necessary to build a proper defense, including delays of 30 to 45 days before a lawyer is able to meet his or her client due to a series of bureaucratic obstacles.
- Palestinian detainees are not informed of the reason for their detention.
- Palestinian detainees are often tortured or subjected to cruel and degrading treatment during their interrogation or detention.
- Palestinians can be held in Israeli jails for 90 days without charge. The period can be extended.
Israeli settlement activity in and around Jerusalem has increased under recent Israeli governments, particularly under PM Netanyahu’s mandate. Israel has been creating three main rings of settlements:
- Ring of settlements set to fragment the Old City of Occupied East Jerusalem and its adjacent Palestinian neighborhoods. This is in order to expand the Jewish Quarter and includes several Palestinian houses taken by Israeli settlers in the Christian, Armenian and Muslim quarters as well as the demolition of the Magharbeh Quarter. Meanwhile, adjacent to the Old City, Israel’s colonial activity spreads throughout Sheikh Jarrah, Wadi Joz, Ras Amoud, Silwan and the Mount of Olives;
- Ring of settlements set to isolate the surrounding neighborhoods of Occupied East Jerusalem from the Old City. These settlements include: Ramot Eshkol, French Hill, Kidmat Zion and East Talpiyot;
- Ring of settlements set to seal the whole of Occupied East Jerusalem from the rest of the occupied State of Palestine. These settlements include: Pisgat Ze ev, Neve Yaaqov, Giv’at Ze’ev, Ramot, Ma’ale Adumim, Har Homa, Giv’at Hamatos, Gilo and Har Gilo.
The report is submitted pursuant to resolution 19/17 in which the Human Rights Council decided to establish an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the human rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.
- The Mission notes that despite all the pertinent United Nations resolutions declaring that the existence of the settlements is illegal and calling for their cessation, the planning and growth of the settlements continues both of existing as well as new structures.
- The establishment of the settlements in the West Bank including East Jerusalem is a mesh of construction and infrastructure leading to a creeping annexation that prevents the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian State and undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.
- The settlements have been established and developed at the expense of violating international human rights laws and international humanitarian law, as applicable in the OPT as notably recognised by the 2004 ICJ Advisory Opinion.
- The Mission considers that in relation to the settlements Israel is committing serious breaches of its obligations under the right to self-determination and certain obligations under international humanitarian law, including the obligation not to transfer its population into the OPT.
Israeli settler violence against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem (OPT) is part of the grim daily life under occupation for Palestinians; a reality that has continued for forty-five years. In recent years, however, these terrorist attacks have increased dramatically, producing a situation of constant fear and insecurity among Palestinians. In 2011, settler violence, that is to say attacks by Israelis living illegally in the OPT including East Jerusalem against Palestinian communities, rose by 39% from the previous year. Since 2007, incidents of settler violence have risen by a staggering 315%. This upward trend in terrorism forms part of a wider culture of discrimination and hate, which is cultivated, mainly, by the actions of the Israeli government in endorsing discrimination, and its creation of a culture of impunity among settlers brought on by its systematic inaction and failure to hold perpetrators of anti-Palestinian hate crimes accountable.
Meanwhile, Israeli occupation forces, who have a duty to protect Palestinians under the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention Relevant to the Protection of Civilians in Times of War (Fourth Geneva Convention), are also widely known to be complicit in settler attacks, most often through deliberate unwillingness to suppress acts of terrorism against Palestinian civilians, property, and places of worship, as well as their failure to see that settlers are tried and punished for their crimes. Most worrying is the government funding provided to openly racist settlers known for inciting against Palestinians in the form of salaries and other government spending.
- Since 1967, Israeli occupation forces detained an estimated 800,000 Palestinians, approximately 20% of Palestine’s population including children below the age of 12;
- Approximately 40% of all Palestinian males have been detained at least once;
- Since 1967, Israeli occupation forces detained no less than 100,000 Palestinians under the category of administrative detention which means detention without charge;
- Over the past ten years, over 7000 Palestinian children were detained and tried in military courts; that’s an average of two children per day.
- Every year, approximately 550-700 children are detained and tried in military courts;
- It is estimated that 80% of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons have been tortured.
Nakba, meaning catastrophe, is commemorated by Palestinians throughout the world on May 15 every year. It marks the loss, dispossession and historic injustice suffered by the Palestinian people, through the forced expulsion from their homeland by Israeli forces and Zionist militia. Nakba commemorates the period when approximately 800,000 Palestinians, at the time 67% of the population, became homeless and/or, stateless refugees. Today, it is estimated that 7 of the 11 million Palestinians around the world are refugees, still roughly two-thirds of the Palestinian people.
The PLO maintains that without a just and comprehensive resolution to the plight of Palestinian refugees, which includes the recognition of their loss, pain, and suffering, a comprehensive and viable peace in the region will remain elusive. In addition to the loss of material property, including homes, land, orchards, groves, gold, money and other valuables, Nakba marks a cultural catastrophe for the Palestinian people, a loss they are still struggling to recover from. Nakba, for Palestine, is about the loss of potential on a mass scale. It is about reducing a vibrant and highly accomplished culture into one filled with bitter-sweet memories consumed by the national cause of return and justice. Entire villages were destroyed, then rebuilt and renamed; books, music collections and works of art were left behind as people ran for their lives, expecting to return a few weeks later; sports clubs and social organizations disappeared with the communities of which they were a part. It was a systematic campaign of death, destruction, and cultural obliteration, carried out against a nation whose vibrant culture was forcibly stunted. Nakba is an on-going story of survival.
In taking the sovereign decision to apply to the United Nations General Assembly for an upgrade to Observer State status, the Palestinian people are taking a positive step towards fulfilling its inalienable right to self-determination within the framework of international law and the two-state vision of the international community. Statehood and self-determination are not, and have never been, matters to be negotiated bilaterally. The international community has a legal and moral obligation not only to support the Palestinians inalienable right to self-determination but to realize that right. Now is the time.
Israeli aggression and violations against Gaza have been consistent. Between January and November of this year alone, the total of Israeli violations against Gaza is 2779. Such violations include assassination, killing, injuries, arrests, raids, and other forms of attacks and aggression.
- Membership in UNESCO grants Palestine basis for membership in several other UN organizations, including UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
- Palestine also has stronger basis for membership in the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), where admission is similarly contingent on a two-thirds majority.
“We’ve helped, on our side, we’ve helped the Palestinian economic growth and the results have been nothing short of remarkable. The Palestinian economy is booming. It’s growing by more than 10 percent a year.” -IsraeliPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in speech to Congress May 2011
In the last decade, the West Bank and Gaza economy has witnessed some of the highest unemployment rates in the world. The deep impact of the conflict and closure regime on the labor market is evident not just in unemployment rates: there is little evidence of sustained per capita GDP growth, and there has been a secular decline in the private sector. -Excerpt from 2010 World Bank Study on the Occupied Palestinian Territory.