Ref: 107/2010

Date: 29 November 2010

Time: 12:00 GMT

On occasion of the commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, PCHR addresses the longstanding illegal occupation of the oPt by Israel and remind the international community of its responsibilities to ensure respect for international

On 29 November, 1947, the UN General Assembly voted for the partition of Palestine into two states and envisaged a Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem. By 1 October 1948, according to the terms of Resolution 181, an Independent Arab state would have come into existence.

However, subsequent events did not lead to the implementation of the UN Partition Plan.

Resolution 181 appealed to “all Governments and peoples to refrain from taking any action which might hamper or delay the carrying out of these recommendations” and entrusted the Security Council with “the necessary measures as provided for in the plan for its implementation”, these steps were completely disregarded. The Jewish People’s Council proclaimed the creation of the State of Israel in Tel Aviv on 14 May 1948 and immediately launched “Operation Schfifon” for the capture of the Old City of Jerusalem.

As a result of the 1948 war fought between Israel and neighbouring Arab states, Israel occupied extensive territories in Palestine which had been put under the sovereignty of the envisaged Palestinian State by the UN Partition Plan. Furthermore, the Israeli advance into Palestinian territories brought the massive displacement of the local Palestinian population from their towns and villages and the loss of their properties. The expulsion and flight of Palestinians from their lands is known as the Nakba (the catastrophe) as a result its magnitude: at the end of the 1948 war, about 700,000 Palestinians became refugees and up to 418 Palestinian villages were abandoned or destroyed. The vast majority of Palestinian refugees outside the 1949 armistice line have been prevented from returning to their homes or from reclaiming their properties. Hosted in refugee camps across the oPt and other neighbouring Arab countries, the fate of the survivors of the Nakba and their families, who are undisputedly entitled to the “right to return” under international law, is still unclear and is one of the numerous violations of human rights endured by the Palestinian people.

In 1977, the UN General Assembly called for the annual observance of 29 November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People to remind of that day in 1947 when the Partition of Palestine should have given an independent state for the Palestinians.

However, 63 years after that day, the Palestinian people continue to be deprived of the legitimate right to a national state and a safe home.

The reality of the Israeli military occupation and continuous land annexation, perpetuated over the past decades through military offensives, has consistently reduced the areas designed in 1947 to form the Palestinian state.

A broad range of illegal policies carried out by Israel, the Occupying Power, has further led to the separation, fragmentation and isolation of the occupied territory and of its inhabitants. The Gaza Strip and the West Bank, a single territorial entity under the Oslo agreement, have never been so distant.

In the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, settlements expansion and confiscation of land, inter alia, have been illegally implemented by all Israeli governments over the past decades and have never stopped. These measures, while affecting the territorial integrity and viability of the future Palestinian state, result in the forced displacement of the local Palestinian population. The construction of the Separation (Annexation) Wall, pronounced as illegal by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2004, is a further attempt to illegally annex Palestinian territory and further aggravates the physical separation of the territories and of its inhabitants. Moreover, the Israeli occupation has resulted in the widespread, longstanding violation of the basic human rights of the Palestinian people.

The Gaza Strip is subjected to an illegal policy of closures which Israel has enforced to varying degrees since 1991 and has further tightened since June 2007. This more stringent form of closure, which severely violates all fundamental human rights of the local population and fosters, inter alia, the separation of the oPt and of its population, is in blatant violation of international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights law. Furthermore, the Israeli-imposed closure has provoked a humanitarian crisis of great concern for all international aid agencies and it has affected all economic sectors in Gaza, resulting in unemployment rates of over 42%. Poverty levels have reached an estimated 80%, and dependency on food aid stands at approximately 85%. Indeed, according to the UN International Fact Finding Mission into the Israeli attacks on the humanitarian Flotilla, the situation in Gaza is “deplorable,… [..]…unsustainable… […] and totally intolerable and unacceptable in the 21st Century” and the ongoing closure is “unlawful and cannot be sustained in law”.

The effects of the closure have been exacerbated by the 27 December 2008 – 18 January 2009 military operation, codenamed “Operation Cast Lead”, during which the Israeli occupation has shown its more brutal face. The offensive caused the death of 1,419 Palestinians, 1,167 of whom were civilians (including 111 women and 318 children) and the injury of a further 5,300 (of whom 1,600 children and 830 women) and resulted in the extensive destruction of houses and civilian infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, and industry. Since the offensive, and in violation of UN

Security Council Resolution 1860 (2009), Israel has failed to open the borders of Gaza, thus impeding the passage of the goods necessary for reconstruction.

In September 2009, the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict lead by Justice Goldstone, found strong evidence pointing to the commission by Israel of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity and called upon Israel to open genuine, independent and effective investigations into the alleged crimes in accordance with international standards. Failure to comply with these requirements, the Mission highlighted, shall motivate the referral of the allegations to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In September 2010, the Committee of independent experts mandated by the Un Human Rights Council to monitor and assess domestic investigations by Israel and the Palestinian side into the Gaza War, stated that the investigations by Israel “fundamentally lacked transparency” and “impartiality”, and that the Israeli government failed to investigate those who designed, planned, ordered and oversaw the offensive.

Two years after the end of the military offensive, neither the State of Israel nor criminally responsible individuals have been held accountable for the mass violations committed during the Gaza war. This has reinforced a climate of pervasive impunity which allows Israel to commit major human rights and humanitarian law abuses while illegally maintaining the occupation of the Palestinian territory. Indeed, as recognized by the UN agency OCHA, “The lack of accountability within the framework of international law has been a main feature of Israel’s control of Gaza”.

This is also symptomatic of the fact that, despite Israeli claim that it does not longer control the Gaza Strip, the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip continues unfettered.

Therefore, today, on occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) stresses that Israeli violations have passed unchallenged over the last 63 years and reminds the international community of its responsibilities to protect Palestinians’ human rights, including the right to self-determination, and to ensure respect for international law in the oPt, including through mechanisms of international criminal justice.