Human Rights Council Thirty-first session Agenda item 7 Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967
Note by the Secretariat
The Secretariat has the honour to transmit to the Human Rights Council the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, submitted pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolution 1993/2 A and Human Rights Council resolution 5/1. In it, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Makarim Wibisono examines the overall lack of effective protection of the rights of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation since 1967 and addresses the non-cooperation of Israel with the mandate. He reviews allegations of violations of human rights related to the surge in violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in 2015. The report further illustrates continuing concerns regarding the protection of human rights and respect for international humanitarian law by reviewing selected recommendations related to the Occupied Palestinian Territory of the second universal periodic review of Israel. It also draws on communications addressed by the Special Rapporteur to the Government of Israel to illustrate continuing concerns.
The present report examines the need for effective protection of the rights of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation since 1967. Since assuming his mandate in June 2014, the Special Rapporteur has been struck by the abundant amounts of information and reports on violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, on the one hand, and the seeming inability of the international community to match what is known of the situation with more effective protection of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
The Special Rapporteur emphasizes the importance of Palestinian, Israeli and international civil society organizations, human rights defenders, United Nations actors and other international bodies working tirelessly to improve the situation of human rights and provide a protective presence for Palestinians against the effects of Israeli policies and practices related to the occupation. However, year after year, violations of international humanitarian law and of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights continue to be reported. Key recommendations to the Government of Israel presented by the SecretaryGeneral, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and independent mandate holders, such as the Special Rapporteur, to the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council remain largely unimplemented. In the present report, the Special Rapporteur examines the outcome of the second universal periodic review of Israel and discusses key recommendations made by States regarding areas of broad, ongoing concerns in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, on the issues of settlements, the blockade, Palestinian prisoners and detainees and accountability, and responses by the Government of Israel.
As an occupied people, under international humanitarian law, Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory are “protected persons”. Yet there is a disconnect between the rights and protections afforded to them under international humanitarian law, and international human rights law in particular, and actual protection. Israel, as the occupying Power, holds the primary responsibility for addressing this disconnect. The Special Rapporteur wishes to illustrate some facets of the vulnerability of individual Palestinians resulting from Israeli policies and practices. He will do so by reference to letters of allegation and urgent appeals that he and other special procedure mandate holders addressed to the Government of Israel in 2014 and 2015, raising alleged violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in specific cases.
While the mandate of the Special Rapporteur is focused on investigation of violations by Israel of the principles and bases of international law (see Commission on Human Rights resolution 1993/2 A), the Special Rapporteur has previously noted the fact that both Palestinians and Israelis have been victims of the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The scale of the impact, however, whether in terms of casualty figures or wider impacts, differs significantly in that the daily lives of Palestinians are affected by the Israeli occupation. The destructive impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is particularly clear in times of active hostilities, such as in the summer of 2014 in Gaza, or as has been witnessed particularly in the fourth quarter of 2015, especially in the West Bank, during escalations in violence.
According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in October and November 2015 the escalation of violence resulted in the deaths of more than 100 Palestinians and some 11,300 injured, and 17 Israeli fatalities and some 170 injured.1 The Special Rapporteur wishes to reiterate two points, related to the current violence, which are interlinked. The first is that any wanton act of individual violence, whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis, is unacceptable and must be investigated and prosecuted in accordance with international standards. The second is that the upsurge of violence with serious concerns of excessive use of force by Israeli security forces in the context of attacks and alleged attacks by Palestinians and during clashes, and ongoing settler violence, is arising within a pre-existing context. Anyone seeking to quell the unrest would, notwithstanding the unequivocal position that individual perpetrators of crimes must be held responsible, need to look to the context and related root causes of the overall heightened tension. To simply condemn individual attacks does not offer any viable way out of the violence rolling over the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
It is part of the current context that there seems to be an atmosphere of despair, particularly among the Palestinian youth, at the prolonged interference by Israeli authorities in every aspect of Palestinian life, the general absence of accountability for violations and abuses committed against them and the absence of any immediate prospects of an improvement in the situation.
On 13 July 2014, in a letter addressed to the Secretary-General, the President of the State of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, formally requested that “the territory of the State of Palestine be placed under an international protection system by the United Nations”.
President Abbas highlighted the long-standing occupation and the prevention of the exercise of the right of Palestinians to self-determination. In the letter, three overarching objectives of the protection system for Palestine were detailed including ensuring respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and international law and international humanitarian law and to providing protection for the Palestinian people and civilian population from the ongoing occupation and acts of aggression by Israel (see S/2014/514, annex).
On 21 July 2014, the Secretary-General transmitted the letter to the President of the Security Council (S/2014/514). On 21 October 2015, the Secretary-General, referencing his earlier letter, further transmitted a summary of historical precedents of international protection regimes for areas of territories and their inhabitants (see S/2015/809, annex). The Secretary-General requested the President of the Security Council to bring his letter dated 21 October 2015 and the accompanying annex to the attention of the members of the Security Council.
The Special Rapporteur will not comment on the specifics of the request for international protection, except to reiterate that long-standing Israeli policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, such as continued settlement expansion, the construction of the wall, and the blockade of Gaza, are illegal under international law and well-known to entail ongoing and serious violations of the human rights of Palestinians.