GENEVA, Saturday, March 4, 2023 (WAFA) – The Arab countries represented at the United Nations Human Rights Council and the High Commission for Human Rights Volker Turk yesterday condemned the escalation in Israeli violence against the Palestinians in the occupied territories and called for an end to the Israeli occupation.
In a speech delivered before the 52nd Human Rights Council on behalf of the Arab countries, the Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Hend Al Muftah, said that the Israeli occupation government has committed grave violations, war crimes, crimes against humanity and apartheid against the Palestinians, and it continues to enact discriminatory laws and arbitrary declarations for the expansion of illegal colonial settlements in occupied Palestine in flagrant violation of international laws.
She emphasized that since the beginning of this year, Israel has killed 68 Palestinians, arrested no less than 1,000 Palestinians, demolished 58 homes, and its settlers have committed more than 330 terrorist attacks, as part of a systematic policy to harm the Palestinians.
She expressed deep concern about the continuing portrayal of equal obligations between Israel, the occupying power, and the occupied state in international reports, calling on the international community to assume its responsibilities, take all necessary measures for accountability and justice in the face of these violations, and end the racist Israeli occupation.
The Arab countries also condemned the Israeli government's refusal to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Council.
Speaking earlier before Council on the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, the High Commissioner for Human Rights VolkerTürk described the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as a tragedy and stressed that the only way to end this tragedy is to end the occupation.
“A tragedy, above all, for the Palestinian people. Over half a century of occupation has led to widening dispossession, deepening deprivation and recurring and severe violations of their rights, including the right to life. Nobody could wish to live this way – or imagine that forcing people into conditions of such desperation can lead to an enduring solution,” he said.
Turk said that 2022 saw the highest number of Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation forces in the past 17 years and that this death toll has further, and sharply, deteriorated in the first weeks of 2023.
He said that lethal force has been frequently employed by the Israeli forces, regardless of the level of threat – and, at times, even as an initial measure, rather than as last resort, adding that his office has also documented several cases of apparent extrajudicial, targeted killings of Palestinians by members of the Israeli forces.
“Collective punishments, which are prohibited by international law, are increasingly imposed on Palestinians by Israel. The blockade of Gaza, which restricts 2 million people to that territory, has been in effect for 16 years,” he said.
“Currently, 967 Palestinians are being held in what is termed administrative detention, in which people are arbitrarily detained for often lengthy periods without charge or trial. This is the highest number in 15 years.”
He added: “More than 270 Israeli settlements encroach on and fragment Palestine. The Separation Wall divides thousands of Palestinians from each other and their lands. It constitutes a major obstacle to their freedom of movement ¬– including impairing access to health care, schools and employment – and it imposes a suffocating straitjacket on their lives.”
Turk stressed that for the violence and tragedy in Palestine to end, “the occupation must end.”