Tuesday, November 30, 2010

OPT: The International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian People; a Call to End Gaza Siege and Implement International Justice Mechanisms

Source: Al Mezan Center for Human Rights

29 November 2010, marks the International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian People. Sixty years ago, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted Resolution 181; also known as the partition resolution, which determined the partition of historic Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish. Over six decades after, the Palestinian state remains nonexistent due to Israel's denial of the Palestinian people's right to self-determination. This date represents a protest against the injustice against the Palestinian people.

This occasion comes at a time of continuous deterioration in human rights and humanitarian situations in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) in general and in the Gaza Strip in particular. The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) continues its systematic attacks against Palestinians which affect all aspects of life, in violation of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL).

In the West Bank, Israel continues to disregard the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of 9 July 2004, on the legal consequence of the construction of the Wall in the West Bank. In its arriving at this opinion, the ICJ reaffirmed the applicability of both IHL and IHRL in OPT. Israel has also stepped up violations of human rights in East Jerusalem; including forced evictions and house demolitions, and use of Palestinian land to build public facilities that serve illegal Jewish-only settlements. These acts have led to displacing thousands of Palestinians while, at the same time, Jewish families are encouraged to reside in settlements built on Palestinian land.

In the Gaza Strip, IOF continues to impose a strict siege, which represents one of the worst forms of collective punishment and violates the population's fundamental human rights; including, but not limited to, their rights to life, healthcare, work and education.

According to Al Mezan's documentation, the IOF has killed 4,668 Palestinians since September 2000 in Gaza alone. The number of destroyed and damaged houses has reached 18,802, including 5,690 that were completely destroyed. In addition, IOF leveled an area of 40,713 dumans (One dunam equals 1,000 square meters) of cultivated land, including 2,300 dunams that had been leveled more than once. The IOF destroyed 990 public facilities, 1,223 vehicles, and 519 industrial facilities and 2007 commercial facilities.

On Sunday 10 October 2010, the Israeli Government approved the "Loyalty Law" bill. Under this law, every non-Jew wishing to become a citizen of Israel has to pledge loyalty to "the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state." The Israeli authorities also continued a racist policy by applying the Jerusalem and Golan laws, which ban Israeli Governments from withdrawing from occupied territory without referendum. These developments indicate how far genuine peace and justice seem.

On this occasion, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights reiterates its calls upon the representatives of the Palestinian people all over the world, particularly the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, to exert more efforts to ensure solidarity with the Palestinian people, and to direct all the efforts towards enacting accountability mechanisms in the face of Israel's continuous violations of Palestinians' human rights. The work of Palestinian representatives at the United Nations and other international forums can enhance the success of the international solidarity with the Palestinian people in its pursuit of a just solution to its question, which must be solved within the confines of international law.

Moreover, this occasion forms an invitation to unite Palestinians, which can only be achieved through bringing to an immediate end the Palestinian internal split.

Al Mezan reiterates its call on the international community to immediately intervene to end the Israeli grave breaches of international law, to provide the due protection for the Palestinians in oPt, and to work seriously towards lifting the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.