Israeli violations of international law and international humanitarian law in the oPt continued during the reporting period (31 December 2015 – 06 January 2016).
Israeli attacks in the West Bank & Gaza:
Israeli forces have continued to commit crimes, inflicting civilian casualties. They have also continued to use excessive force against Palestinian civilians participating in peaceful protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the majority of whom were youngsters. Occupied East Jerusalem witnessed similar attacks. During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed two Palestinian civilians in the West Bank. Moreover, they wounded eight others, including a child. Six of them, including the child, were wounded in the West Bank, while the two others were wounded in the Gaza Strip.
During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 79 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 5 ones in occupied East Jerusalem. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 64 Palestinian civilians, including nine children. Twelve of these civilians, including four children, were arrested in East Jerusalem.
Efforts to create a Jewish majority
In the context of house demolitions, on 04 January 2016, Israeli forces moved into al-Mukaber Mountain village, southeast of occupied Jerusalem. They raided a building in which Safa Abu Jamal and her family live. They took all of them out of the house and detained and attacked one of her brothers. Moreover, they closed the windows with iron and tin plates, after which, they poured concrete into the apartment. Israeli forces claimed that the targeted apartment belongs to her brother Alaa “based on confidential information”. It should be noted that Alaa Abu Jamal was killed by Israeli forces after he carried out a run-over and stabbing attack that resulted in the killing of an Israeli Rabbi on 13 October 2015.
Around the same time, another Israeli force raided a house belonging to the family of Khalil Mohammed Elayan and his sons. They dismissed all the occupants out and destroyed the inside and outside walls of the second floor with hand tools. It should be noted that Baha Mohammed Elayan was killed by Israeli forces after he carried out an attack in an Israeli bus near al-Mukaber Mountain village on 13 October 2015.
As part of settler attacks, on 03 January 2016, some settlers made halls in the walls of a house belonging to Sab Laban family in Aqbet al-Khalediya neighbourhood, in the Old City in East Jerusalem. The family said that they were surprised when they got home and found halls in the children’s bedroom walls. These halls were made by settlers that seized a building belonging to al-Qaisi family adjacent to Sab Laban house the previous month. The settlement organizations attempt to seize the house claiming that they owned it since before 1948.
Restrictions on movement
Israel continued to impose a tight closure of the oPt, imposing severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.
The illegal closure of the Gaza Strip, which has been steadily tightened since June 2007 has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli authorities impose measures to undermine the freedom of trade, including the basic needs for the Gaza Strip population and the agricultural and industrial products to be exported. For 9 consecutive years, Israel has tightened the land and naval closure to isolate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, and other countries around the world. This resulted in grave violations of the economic, social and cultural rights and a deterioration of living conditions for 1.8 million people. The Israeli authorities have established Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shaloum) as the sole crossing for imports and exports in order to exercise its control over the Gaza Strip’s economy. They also aim at imposing a complete ban on the Gaza Strip’s exports. The Israeli closure raised the rate of poverty to 38.8%, 21.1% of which suffer from extreme poverty. Moreover, the rate of unemployment increased up to 44%, which reflects the unprecedented economic deterioration in the Gaza Strip.
On 31 December 2015, under the protection of Israeli forces, Israeli bulldozers levelled part of a plot of land belonging to Isma’il Abed Rabbu Shalalda in Sa’ir valley, northeast of Sa’ir village, east of Hebron, in order to establish a military observation post.
On 05 January 2016, Israeli forces confiscated a tractor that was around a house belonging to Adham Abu Maria, who was notified to halt construction works, east of Beit Ommer village, north of Hebron. Moreover, they handed notices over to Khaled Abu Maria and Ghassan Breigeeth for the removal of eight water tanks used in irrigation system.
Recommendations to the International Community:
PCHR emphasizes the international community’s position that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are still under Israeli occupation, in spite of Israeli military redeployment outside the Gaza Strip in 2005. PCHR further confirms that Israeli forces continued to impose collective punishment measures on the Gaza Strip, which have escalated since the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, in which Hamas won the majority of seats of the Palestinian Legislative Council. PCHR stresses that there is international recognition of Israel’s obligation to respect international human rights instruments and the international humanitarian law, especially the Hague Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land and the Geneva Conventions. Israel is bound to apply the international human rights law and the law of war sometime reciprocally and other times in parallel in a way that achieves the best protection for civilians and remedy for victims.
In light of continued arbitrary measures, land confiscation and settlement activities in the West Bank, and the latest 51-day offensive against civilians in the Gaza Strip, PCHR calls upon the international community, especially the United Nations, the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention and the European Union – in the context of their natural obligation to respect and enforce the international law – to cooperate and act according to the following recommendations:
1. PCHR calls upon the international community and the United Nations to use all available means to allow the Palestinian people to enjoy their right to self-determination, through the establishment of the Palestinian State, which was recognized by the UN General Assembly with a vast majority, using all international legal mechanisms, including sanctions to end the occupation of the State of Palestine;
2. PCHR calls upon the United Nations to provide international protection to Palestinians in the oPt, and to ensure the non-recurrence of aggression against the oPt, especially the Gaza Strip;
3. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to compel Israel, as a High Contracting Party to the Conventions, to apply the Conventions in the oPt;
4. PCHR calls upon the Parties to international human rights instruments, especially the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to pressurize Israel to comply with their provisions in the oPt, and to compel it to incorporate the human rights situation in the oPt in its reports submitted to the concerned committees;
5. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfil their obligation to ensure the application of the Conventions, including extending the scope of their jurisdiction in order to prosecute suspected war criminals, regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator and the place of a crime, to pave the way for prosecuting suspected Israeli war criminals and end the longstanding impunity they have enjoyed; 6. PCHR calls on States that apply the principle of universal jurisdiction not to surrender to Israeli pressure to limit universal jurisdiction to perpetuate the impunity enjoyed by suspected Israeli war criminals;
7. PCHR calls upon the international community to act in order to stop all Israeli settlement expansion activities in the oPt through imposing sanctions on Israeli settlements and criminalizing trading with them;
8. PCHR calls upon the UN General Assembly to transfer the Goldstone Report to the UN Security Council in order to refer it to the International Criminal Court in accordance with Article 13(b) of the Rome Statute;
9. PCHR calls upon the United Nations to confirm that holding war criminals in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a precondition to achieve stability and peace in the regions, and that peace cannot be built on the expense of human rights;
10. PCHR calls upon the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council to explicitly declare that the Israeli closure policy in Gaza and the annexation wall in the West Bank are illegal, and accordingly refer the two issues to the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Israel to compel it to remove them;
11. PCHR calls upon the international community, in light of its failure to the stop the aggression on the Palestinian people, to at least fulfil its obligation to reconstruct the Gaza Strip after the series of hostilities launched by Israel which directly targeted the civilian infrastructure;
12. PCHR calls upon the United Nations and the European Union to express a clear position towards the annexation wall following the international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders, as the annexation wall seizes large parts of the State of Palestine;
13. PCHR calls upon the European Union to activate Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which provides that both sides must respect human rights as a precondition for economic cooperation between the EU states and Israel, and the EU must not ignore Israeli violations and crimes against Palestinian civilians;