UN High Commissioner: Human rights situation in Palestine "disastrous"
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says that "only an end to the occupation can bring about lasting peace and establish the conditions in which the human rights of all can be fully respected."
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said on Tuesday that the human rights situation in occupied Palestine has become "disastrous", with severe infringements affecting close to four million people.
In a briefing to the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in Geneva, Bachelet said, “This clearly also has damaging impact on prospects for peace and sustainable development" for the region.
“Only an end to the occupation can bring about lasting peace and establish the conditions in which the human rights of all can be fully respected”, she added.
Commenting on the recent war on Gaza, Bachelet said that 261 Palestinians, including 67 children, were killed, with civilians accounting for 130 of those killed. The Human Rights Council had decided on establishing a commission of inquiry on an international level, whose first report is due in June 2022.
The people of Gaza, according to Bachelet, also still suffer from the 15-year blockade of the land, sea, and air, imposed by the Israeli occupation. “Severe movement restrictions and obstructions to people's access to essential goods and services, including specialized healthcare, generate immense suffering," she noted.
Despite ongoing reconstruction efforts, the cessation of hostilities, and some goods being gradually allowed into Gaza, humanitarian conditions are still "deeply concerning".
Bachelet also discussed "Israel's" branding of six Palestinian NGOs as "terrorist organizations", saying the decisions “appear to have been based on vague or unsubstantiated reasons, including claims related to legitimate and entirely peaceful human rights activities.”
All six organizations have worked with the international community, including the UN, for decades.
Since the designations are unsubstantiated and appear to be arbitrary, they can be viewed as an attack on human rights defenders and the rights to freedoms of association, opinion, and expression, she said.
Killings and injuries
As for the Israeli track record in killings and injuries, the UN High Commissioner said she was alarmed at recurring incidents of excessive use of force, which leads to the death and injury of Palestinian children. 16 children were killed this year in the West Bank.
She called for investigations and accountability and said that "chronic impunity" of "Israel" has been raised in reports by herself and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Moreover, settler-related violence against Palestinians is now at "alarmingly high levels," with 490 incidents resulting in deaths, injury, or significant property damage recorded last year hitting a high record of settler violence recorded by the UN.
160 Palestinian children are currently detained by Israeli occupation forces, some without charges, per administrative detention rules. According to Bachelet, administrative detention is illegal under international law and is only permitted in special circumstances, and "this is not the case in the occupied Palestinian territory today," she said.