The following appeal was sent today by BADIL Resource Center to the
UN Human Rights Commission:
UN Human Rights Commission
Mrs. Mary Robinson, High Commissioner
Representatives of Member States
Fax: 0041-22-917 9018
HALT ISRAELI VIOLENCE AGAINST PALESTINIAN CIVILIANS!
- Conduct a thorough Investigation of the current acts of violence;
- Establish International Protection for the Palestinian People;
- Intervene for Israeli Adherence to UN Resolutions, International Human Rights Conventions and Humanitarian Law;
Appeal by BADIL Resource Center, Bethlehem, 6 October 2000
Dear Mrs. Robinson
Dear Members of the UN Human Rights Commission,
Aware of the fact that your Commission will meet on Tuesday, 10 October in order to take decisions concerning its future steps for the solution of the current violent crisis in Palestine, we would like to present briefly facts, analysis, and recommendations as viewed by a Palestinian NGO, part of the Palestinian community effected by the events.
1. Summary of the Events
On 28 September 2000, Ariel Sharon, head of the Israeli Likud party, conducted a so-called private visit, accompanied by 3,000 Israeli police and special forces, to the Muslim holy site of al-Haram al-Sharif (site of the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock) in the Old City of Jerusalem, despite warnings by Palestinian, Arab, and some Israeli and western officials that the visit could destabilize the situation on the ground.
On Friday 29 September, thousands of Palestinians gathered for worship at the Haram al-Sharif in response to the Israeli provocation. The massive Israeli police presence in the Old City and around the Haram al-Sharif led to an atmosphere of extreme tension and resulted in Israeli occupation forces, including snipers, opening fire on the Palestinian worshippers, thus triggering the bloodiest Israeli-Palestinian confrontations since the beginning of the Oslo process in 1993.
Consequently, popular demonstrations and street fighting between civilian Palestinian protestors and the Israeli occupation army and police forces spread all over the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Palestinian population centers inside Israel. Israeli measures applied to repress the popular protests escalated from day to day, including measures which are clearly outlawed by international conventions (Fourth Geneva Convention/Protection of Civilians under Occupation; Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; Convention on the Rights of the Child), such as the use of life ammunition and dum-dum bullets against civilians, many of them children; the use of tanks, LAW missiles, and gun-helicopters against large crowds of protestors, Palestinian civilian homes and security targets; shooting at Palestinian medical staff and ambulances; collective punishment (military closures and curfews on Palestinian communities); attacks against civilians with the purpose of inducing panic and fear.
The circle of violence caused by attacks of the heavily armed occupation forces and the response of the Palestinian popular resistance equipped with stones and Molotov-cocktails - supported by weakly armed Palestinian security forces - has resulted in an unprecedented toll of deaths and injuries among the Palestinian people. By October 6, over 80 Palestinians have been killed, 14 of them Palestinian citizens of Israel.Among the killed are at least 15 children below the age of eighteen. In addition, over 2,500 have been injured, mainly by bullet wounds to the upper part of the body and head.
2. Analysis of Causes Underlying the Crisis
a) Israeli non-compliance with all UN resolutions pertaining to the historical Palestinian/Arab - Israeli conflict (especially UN Resolution 181 providing for a special international regime over all of Jerusalem; Resolution 194 calling for the repatriation and restitution of Palestinian refugees; Resolutions 242 and 338 calling for Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967) and international humanitarian and human rights conventions (e.g. Forth Geneva Convention; Convention on Civil and Political Rights; Convention on the Rights of the Child; conventions on the status of refugees, internally displaced and stateless persons) has never been effectively challenged by the international community, in particular by the United Nations. Moreover, abstention from rights-based intervention against Israeli violations of UN resolutions and international law standards became an explicit international policy after 1993, when "support for the Middle East Peace Process" - i.e. support for the results of regional power politics irrespective of their conformity with international human rights standards - became the predominant role of the international community in the Middle East. Israeli governments have interpreted this international stand as a carte blanche for more violations of UN resolutions and international conventions - the excessive use of armed force in the current crisis is one of the results.
b) For the Palestinian people, the absence of rights-based intervention in the Oslo process by the international community has meant additional proof of international disregard and disrespect for basic Palestinian rights; it further deepened Palestinian/Arab doubts in the universality and enforcement capacity of the international human rights system - doubts which have characterized the Palestinian/Arab relationship to the international (United Nations) system at least since the UN Partition Resolution of 1947. Although termed "Jerusalem (Al-Aqsa) Intifada", the current popular protest is thus not mainly a struggle over religious symbols, but an expression of the deep Palestinian frustration over the ongoing disrespect and denial of the Palestinian people's basic rights - including the right to
free access to Jerusalem, security and development in the homeland, and the refugees' right to return, restitution and compensation - by a political process which is experienced as a process imposed by Israeli and the United States, supported by the United Nations, in order to negate Palestinian human and national rights for all times to come.
c) Recommendations: Towards a Solution of the Current Crisis
As public protest against Israeli violence and support for the Palestinian people has spread from the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and the Arab world to the United States, Canada and Europe, an adequate official response by the international community is urgently needed in order to rebuild Palestinian confidence in the universality and efficiency of the international political and human rights system.
Specifically, we call upon the UN High Commission for Human Rights, its member states and High Commissioner, Ms. Mary Robinson, to make use of the Commission's mandate by:
1. Holding a Special Session to discuss the current violent events and issue a Special Statement, which calls upon Israel to halt immediately all military operations against the Palestinian people and condemns injuries and loss of life caused by Israel, as the ruling military power in the area, through the excessive and indiscriminate use of military and police force against the Palestinian people in the 1967 occupied territories and in Israel.
2. Launching an international investigation to determine responsibility and accountability for the injuries, loss of life and human rights violations by Israel. Such investigation must not only address the immediate circumstances of the current violent events, but also the underlying causes outlined above. It must include a thorough investigation of the human rights situation of particularly vulnerable sectors of the Palestinian people, i.e. Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem and Israel, and Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons.
3. Demanding that the Commission receive UN authorization to fully investigate Israeli violations against Palestinians, both within Israel, and in the 1967 occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
4. Stimulating and coordinating action (including preventive action) for the protection of the human rights of the Palestinian people throughout the UN system. Protective human rights mechanisms, based on the existing UN Resolutions, human rights conventions and humanitarian law, must be extended especially to vulnerable groups, i.e. Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem and within Israel, and to Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons, who - excluded from the international protection regime for 50 years - continue to be denied a broad range of basic human rights, especially their right to repatriation, restitution and compensation based on UN Resolution 194 and the standards set by the 1951 Refugee Convention.
In deep concern and with sincere greetings,
Salem Abu Hawwash, Head of Board
Ingrid Jaradat Gassner, Director
BADIL Resource Center
Copies to: Offices of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, West Bank and Gaza Strip