Palestine: CSOs Urge States` Diligence in UNHRC

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Palestine: CSOs Urge States` Diligence in UNHRC
By: Various NGOs
21 May 2021

Joint letter to Permanent Missions to the UN at Geneva

Regional and international civil society organizations from around the world call on UN Member States to address the escalating and institutionalized Israeli attacks against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line during the 30th HRC Special Session (Endorsing signatures listed below.)

Your Excellency,

Israel’s repression against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line escalated in May 2021 in response to widespread Palestinian demonstrations against Israel’s imminent threat of eviction and displacement of eight Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem. Notably, this is only the latest example of Israel’s institutionalized regime of racial domination and oppression, which the Palestinian people have endured for decades. While the international community has ensured Israel’s impunity since 1948, enabling Israel to continue to commit widespread and systematic human rights violations, Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line and refugees and exiles abroad continue to oppose and stand steadfast against 73 years of Israeli settler colonialism and apartheid.

As Israel intensifies its crackdown on Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank, conducts military strikes against civilians in the Gaza Strip, which have been living under a comprehensive land, air, and sea closure for 14 years, and targets Palestinians inside the Green Line, the undersigned civil society organizations, from around the world, urge your delegation to engage in the 30th Special Session by the UN Human Rights Council and address all violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law, including the root causes of Israeli violations against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line.

Since 13 April 2021, the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the Israeli occupying forces (IOF) have systematically targeted and attacked Palestinians in Jerusalem. The attacks escalated when the occupation police targeted worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, with tear gas, sound bombs, and rubber-coated metal bullets, resulting in hundreds of injured Palestinians. The occupation police prevented paramedics from accessing the compound to treat the injured and even directly targeted emergency responders by firing tear gas and waste water containers on volunteers, paramedics, and ambulances. In other parts of the West Bank, Israel has violently suppressed demonstrations calling for an end to Israeli oppression, including by shooting live ammunition at demonstrators, killing 14 Palestinians between 14 and 18 May 2021[1]. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, between 7 and 19 May, 5,164 Palestinians were injured, 578 with live ammunition.

These attacks come in the context of increasing Palestinian mobilization against Israel’s policies and practices of racial domination and oppression, in response to the imminent eviction of eight Palestinian families, totaling 19 households of around 87 individuals, from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem. The forcible transfer of Palestinians from Jerusalem is a war crime and likely amounts to a crime against humanity as it is being perpetrated in a widespread and systematic manner. Principle 6 of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, prohibits arbitrary displacement, including “when it is based on policies of apartheid, ‘ethnic cleansing’ or similar practices aimed at/or resulting in altering the ethnic, religious or racial composition of the affected population.” All of these criteria are applicable to Israeli practices, policies and laws implemented with the intention of maintaining Jewish Israeli domination over the Palestinian people.

The Israeli police have also violently repressed Palestinian demonstrations inside the Green Line. Since 10 May 2021, thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel came out to protest the evictions of Palestinian refugee families in Sheikh Jarrah, the use of extreme violence and attacks on worshippers and protestors by the police in Al-Aqsa Mosque and elsewhere, and the Israeli military attacks in Gaza. The Palestinian protestors were subjected to police violence and human rights violations, including denial of emergency medical care. High Commissioner Bachelet highlighted “reports of excessive and discriminatory use of force by police against Palestinian citizens of Israel”. Since 10 May, the police have arrested 1,097 Palestinians.

Moreover, Israeli settlers have intensified attacks against Palestinians living in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, with the support of the IOF. Inside the Green Line, far-right Jewish Israelis organized and coordinated the arrival of armed Israelis to attack Palestinians in al-Lydd, Ramle, Akka, Haifa, and Yafa, among other cities and areas. Moreover, the IOF has allowed Israeli settlers coming from the West Bank entry into Israel to target Palestinian neighborhoods and villages and provided support and protection as they attacked Palestinian residents and destroyed Palestinian property. In response, the Israeli police has not taken any action against and in some cases cooperated and supported the mob violence. High Commission Bachelet raised concern at “reports that Israeli police failed to intervene where Palestinian citizens of Israel were being violently attacked, and that social media is being used by ultraright-wing groups to rally people to bring ‘weapons, knives, clubs, knuckledusters to use against Palestinian citizens of Israel.”

In the Gaza Strip, the IOF continues to target civilian structures, in particular homes, wiping out whole families, and inflicting widespread destruction and collective punishment on the entire, trapped population. Since 10 May 2021, human rights organizations documented Israel’s use of disproportionate, indiscriminate, and unnecessary military force in violation of international law. Residential blocks are “being targeted pursuant to an apparent policy agreed by Israel`s military and political leadership”[2]. The number of residential buildings targeted now stands at 94, including six towers—three of which were completely destroyed—ultimately destroying 371 residential units. In addition, hundreds of private properties, as well as tens of governmental sites, schools, banks, and mosques have sustained significant damages. Israel’s airstrikes have also led to the large-scale destruction of power and water networks, as well as thousands of square meters of vital paved roads.

Israel’s extensive and systematic attacks on buildings, and the shelling of residential areas, especially those near the separation fence, force civilians—men, women, and children—to flee their homes in search of safety. Around 41,900 people have moved to 53 UNRWA schools, and the numbers are still increasing.[3] Displaced people are experiencing appalling humanitarian conditions, especially when UNRWA schools have not officially been opened as shelters.

As of 2 pm on 17 May, 231 Palestinians, including 65 children and 39 women were killed; 1,212 others have been injured in the attacks, including 277children and 204women.[4] According to Israeli media, ten Israelis have been killed following rocket fire from Gaza.

It is again clear that civilians are paying the price of Israel’s pervasive impunity. Any firing of rockets or attacks must meet assessments of proportionality and the requirement for a concrete and direct military advantage. Indiscriminate attacks or targeting of civilians not taking a direct part in hostilities constitute a grave violation of international law. In order to protect all civilians, the Human Rights Council should address the root causes of Israel’s settler colonialism and apartheid to achieve lasting justice.

We call on your mission to:

  • Engage in the 30th UN Human Rights Council Special Session and address the escalating Israeli attacks against the Palestinian people, including the root causes of Israeli violations against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line.
  • Establish a commission of inquiry to:

- Monitor, document and report on all violations of human rights and humanitarian law, including the escalating attacks against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line since April 2021;

- Include and address the root causes of Israel’s institutionalized regime of racial domination and oppression over the Palestinian people in line with the 2019 Concluding Observations on Israel by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) which highlighted Israeli policies and practices against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line are in violation of Article 3 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) pertaining to racial segregation and apartheid;

- Identify individuals responsible for serious crimes;

- Collect and preserve evidence related to violations to be used for accountability in relevant judicial bodies and transfer evidence to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

Endorsing organizations

  • 11.11.11
  • Abductees’ Mothers Association
  • Action for Change and Democracy in Algeria (ACDA)
  • Aegis for Human Rights
  • Akahatá
  • Algerian Feminist Journal Foundation
  • Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH)
  • Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
  • ASGI - Association for juridical studies on immigration
  • Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  • Association Aswat Nissa
  • Association belgo-Palestinienne WB
  • Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine (AURDIP)
  • Association for the Defense of Human Rights in Morocco (ASDHOM)
  • Association for the Promotion of the Right to Difference
  • Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS)
  • Association of Maghreb Workers in France
  • Autonomous Union of Public Administration Personnel (SNAPAP)
  • Baytna
  • Belady Center for Rights and Freedoms
  • Bytes for All, Pakistan
  • Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  • Canadian BDS Coalition
  • The Center for Reproductive Rights
  • Centre for Egyptian Women Legal Assistance
  • Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)
  • CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  • CNCD-11.11.11
  • Collectif Judéo Arabe et Citoyen pour la Palestine
  • Collective of the Families of the Disappeared in Algeria (CFDA)
  • Committee for Justice
  • The Committee for the Respect of Liberties and Human Rights in Tunisia
  • Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)
  • Coordination for Maghreb Human rights Organizations (CMODH)
  • Dameer Foundation for Rights and Freedom
  • DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
  • Defender Center for Human Rights
  • Democratic Association of Tunisians in France
  • Egyptian Front for Human Rights
  • Egyptian Human Rights Forum
  • Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
  • El Na aura Association, Belgium
  • EuroMaghreb Network: citizenship and culture
  • EuroMed Rights
  • European Legal Support Center
  • European Trade Union Network for Justice in Palestine (ETUN)
  • February 17 Organization for Environment and Human Rights
  • The Freedom Initiative
  • Freedom of Thought and Expression
  • Ga3 Kifkif Network
  • General Autonomous Confederation of Workers in Algeria (CGATA)
  • Geneva Bridge Association
  • Growth foundation for development & improvement
  • Habitat International Coalition – Housing and Land Rights Network
  • Hadramout Foundation For Legal Support and Training
  • Al-Haq Foundation for Human Rights
  • Hassan Saadaoui Association for Democracy and Equality
  • Human Rights solidarity
  • Human rights solidarity
  • ICAHD Finland
  • INSAF Center for Defending Freedoms and Minorities
  • Intal
  • International Arabic Organization for Women’s Rights
  • International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  • International Service for Human Rights
  • International Women`s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW AP)
  • Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign
  • Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice (IIMA)
  • Just Peace Advocates/Mouvement Pour Une Paix Juste
  • Lebanese Center for Human Rights
  • Libyan Center for Freedom of the Press
  • Libyan Crimes Watch
  • Libyan Organization for Independent Media
  • Libyan Organization for Legal Aid
  • Al-Massar Organization for Youth and Culture Dirj Branch
  • Mattress Youth Organization
  • Mediterranean Organization for Development and Humanitarian Relief
  • Mwatana for Human Rights
  • Mwatana for Human Rights
  • Namaa Foundation for Development and Improvement
  • Nass for Nass organization to support youth Misurata
  • National Committee for the Release of Detainees (CNLD)
  • The National Observatory for the Defense of the Civic Character of the State
  • The National Union for Tunisian Journalists
  • The Niagara Movement for Justice in Palestine-Israel (NMJPI)
  • Network for Immigration, Development and Democracy (IDD)
  • The Palestinian Human Rights Organization (PHRO) - Lebanon
  • Organization for freedoms of Media and Expression
  • Al-Rakeezeh Foundation for Relief and Development
  • Riposte Internationale
  • SAM organization for Rights and Liberties
  • Scottish Palestinian Forum
  • Sexual Rights Initiative
  • Shiraa Association to fight AIDS and drugs
  • SHOAA for Human Rights
  • Social Peace Promotion and Legal Protection
  • Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN)
  • Al-Tebyan Association for Human Rights Dirj
  • Tharwa N`Fadhma N`Soumeur organisation
  • The Tunisian Organization Against Torture
  • Thought Pioneers Organization Mattress
  • Together We Raise (Social Association)
  • Trócaire
  • Tunisian Center for Press Freedom
  • The Tunisian Association 23-10 for the Support of the Democratic Transition Process
  • The Tunisian Association for the Defense of Individual Liberties
  • The Tunisian Association for the Defense of Minorities
  • The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights
  • Tunisian Federation for Citizenship on both shores
  • The Tunisian General Labor Union
  • Tunisian Union for Citizenship Action
  • Union des Progressistes Juifs de Belgique (UPJB)
  • Vigilance for Democracy and Civic State
  • Vigilance for Democracy in Tunisia (Belgium)
  • Viva Salud
  • Watch for Human Rights
  • Women League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
  • Yemeni Observatory for Human Rights
  • Yemeni Observatory of Mines
  • Youth for Tawergha
  • Endnotes:

    [1] According to Al-Haq’s monitoring and documentation unit

    [2] Al Mezan, “Attacks against civilian homes must stop; those responsible must be investigated by the ICC,” 14 May 2021,

    [3] According to Al Mezan’s monitoring and documentation unit

    [4] According to Al Mezan’s monitoring and documentation unit,

    • Access to natural resources
    • Advocacy
    • Agriculture
    • Armed / ethnic conflict
    • Basic services
    • Children
    • Communication and dissemination
    • Demographic manipulation
    • Destruction of habitat
    • Discrimination
    • Displaced
    • Displacement
    • Dispossession
    • Environment (Sustainable)
    • Epidemics, diseases
    • ESC rights
    • Ethnic
    • Extraterritorial obligations
    • Farmers/Peasants
    • Food (rights, sovereignty, crisis)
    • Forced evictions
    • Homeless
    • Housing rights
    • Human rights
    • Indigenous peoples
    • International
    • Land rights
    • Landless
    • Local Governance
    • National
    • Norms and standards
    • Pastoralists
    • People under occupation
    • Population transfers
    • Property rights
    • Public policies
    • Public programs and budgets
    • Refugees
    • Regional
    • Rural planning
    • Security of tenure
    • Stateless
    • UN HR bodies
    • UN system
    • Urban planning
    • Water&sanitation

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