Israel’s policies against Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip are tantamount to a "crime against humanity", the United Nations’ human rights investigator in the occupied Palestinian territories insisted.
"An urgent effort should be made at the United Nations to implement the agreed norm of a responsibility to protect a civilian population being collectively punished by policies that amount to a Crime Against Humanity," Richard Falk, the United Nation Human Rights Council’s special rapporteur on human rights in Palestinian territories, said in a statement on Tuesday, December 9.
Falk, a world-renowned Jewish-American professor of international law, denounced the Israeli siege on the impoverished strip as a violation of international law.
He also criticized Israel for rendering deaf ears to the international community pleas for an end to the collective punishment of Gaza population.
"Although many leaders have commented on the cruelty and unlawfulness of the Gaza blockade imposed by Israel, such a flurry of denunciations by normally cautious UN officials has not occurred on a global level since the heyday of South African apartheid," he said.
"And still Israel maintains its Gaza siege in its full fury."
The UN official said it is "mandatory" that the UN’s International Criminal Court investigate Israel’s policies in regard to the Palestinians.
"[The court would] determine whether the Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders responsible for the Gaza siege should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law."
Israel has sealed off Gaza, home to 1.6 million people, from all but limited humanitarian aid since Hamas seized power in June 2007.
Since November 9, Israel completely locked down all commercial crossings with the densely populated strip, allowing only urgently-needed aid to enter in short border openings.
Human Rights Watch has slammed Israel’s siege in Gaza as a violation of the law of war.
The statement came as the UN Human Rights Council adopted a list of 99 recommendations for Israel to improve its human rights record.
The 47-member-state Council adopted its list by consensus in a report on Tuesday at the end of a two-day review of Israel’s rights record.
The list called on Israel to end all forms of "cruel, inhuman and degrading" punishment.
It also urged Israel to end "physical and mental torture" inflicted on Arab prisoners in its detentions.
The report was extremely critical of Israel’s human rights record in the Palestinian territories and in particular the blockade on Gaza.
Another recommendation also called n Israel to issue a standing invitation to all UN rights investigators.
The report is a part of a new UNHRC mechanism, known as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), under which the records of all UN member states are to be subjected to scrutiny every four years.
Israel is due to report to the UN council in March on how it will address the recommendations.
It’s not the first time Israel is rapped for its rights record especially in regard to Palestinians.
John Dugard, the former UNHRC special rapporteur, has branded Israeli actions in the occupied Palestinian territories as white South Africa’s apartheid system.
Last Sunday, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel said the state’s discrimination between Jewish settlers and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank was increasingly reminiscent of apartheid.
Last year, a 27-strong group of German bishops visiting occupied al-Quds compared the discriminatory treatment helpless Palestinians suffer under Israel’s stifling checkpoints and occupation to infamous Nazi tactics.