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Civil Society and the Question of Palestine - NGO Action news – 2 April 2020

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Middle East

  • On 2 April, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association and Al-Haq sent a joint urgent appeal to the United Nations Special Procedures regarding the rapidly deteriorating condition of Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons in light of the continued spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Palestine and around the world. Addressed to five Special Procedures mandates, including the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), the NGOs urgently requested intervention to uphold the right to health, safety and well-being of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention, particularly as many as minors, chronically ill, and vulnerable groups, are held under administrative detention in contravention of international law.

  • On 2 April, Adalah – The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association sent a joint letter to the director of the Israel Prison Service (IPS) demanding urgent preventive measures after a Palestinian national, who was released from an Israeli prison, tested positive for COVID-19. Among other measures, the NGO’s attorneys called on Israeli prison authorities to locate and isolate all prisoners and detainees who were in contact with the patient and provide them with any necessary medical care.

  • On 1 April, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) published an information sheet “Corona and Human Rights: What is ACRI Doing?” on its activities relating to the COVID-19 crisis to safeguard democracy and basic rights and defend human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, among others.

  • On 1 April, Al-Haq lawyers published an article on “COVID-19 and Apartheid: Living with Right Denials, Arbitrariness, and Fear” to denounce Israel’s existing policies of restrictions of movement of Palestinians, the decade-old blockade of the Gaza Strip, as well as emergency regulations adopted in response to COVID-19. Al-Haq averred that the Israeli government “has used the opportunity provided by the COVID-19 pandemic to put in place draconian measures to infringe upon basic rights […].”

  • On 1 April, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association published a list of demands from the Palestinian prisoners’ movement, after a former Palestinian prisoner tested positive for COVID-19. The movement asked for immediate actions to be taken for their protection including the testing of all prisoners at Ofer Prison and that the Israeli Prisoner Services (IPS) start conducting the daily count of prisoners via cameras remotely.

  • On 1 April, Peace Now sent an urgent request to Israeli political leaders Benny Gantz and Amir Peretz. The NGO urged them to veto any actions to be taken by the incoming government toward annexing swaths of the West Bank, which would have grave consequences for Israel’s future.

  • On 1 April, Gisha – Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement sent an urgent letter to Israel’s Defense Minister Naftali Bennett and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), demanding they take immediate action to ensure food security and promote economic activity in the Gaza Strip as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread. Gisha asked to remove ongoing restrictions imposed by Israel on the entry of so-called “dual-use” equipment and materials for which there is an acute need in Gaza’s farming and fishing sectors, and to allow the exit of Gaza-made food products for sale in the West Bank.

  • On 30 March, the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC), the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO), the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC), Al-Quds University Community Action Centre and others issued a joint statement on the occasion of Palestine’s Land Day to urge accountability and an end to Israel’s illegal closure of Gaza. The organizations stressed that, in the absence of accountability, third States had allowed “Israel’s pervasive impunity to prevail, while the root causes driving the demonstrations in the Gaza Strip over the past two years have remained unaddressed.”

  • On 30 March, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) published the report “Second Anniversary of the Great March of Return: Impunity Continues to Prevail”, in which it denounced Israel’s unwillingness to conduct genuine investigations into the casualties caused by its military during the protests and stated that the lack of accountability and persistent impunity for the violations committed not only denied justice for victims but also encouraged the occurrence of further violations.

North America

  • On 30 March, Jewish Voice for Peace, MPower Change and a large coalition of Palestinian solidarity groups gathered for a virtual rally to “spread solidarity for Gaza” on the occasion of the two-year anniversary of the Great March of Return and the 44th anniversary of Land Day. Palestinian speakers across three continents described conditions on the ground in Palestine as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread and shared a petition calling on the US Congress to tell Israel to end the blockade now.

United Nations

  • On 30 March, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed the Security Council on the implementation of Resolution 2334 (2016). On the implementation of the provisions of the resolution during the reporting period, the UN Special Coordinator stated that the expansion of Israeli settlements continues to pose a significant obstacle to achieving a viable two-State solution, as their establishment has no legal validity and constitutes to be a flagrant violation of international law, and that unilateral steps are detrimental to peace, in reference to Israeli officials’ recent statements on their intention to annex Israeli settlements and other parts of the occupied West Bank. He reiterated that the only sustainable solution to Gaza’s challenges is political and requires concrete steps to ensure that Gaza and the West Bank are reunited under a single legitimate Palestinian national authority, and that Israel continues to implement additional measures to significantly improve the access and movement of goods and people to and from Gaza.

This newsletter informs about recent and upcoming activities of Civil Society Organizations affiliated with the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The Committee and the Division for Palestinian Rights of the UN Secretariat provide the information “as is” without warranty of any kind, and do not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, or reliability of the information contained in the websites linked in the newsletter.