HRW Calls for ‘Accountability on All Sides’ as Palestinians Mark 50th Occupation Anniversary

A Human Rights Watch logo. (Photo: HRW website)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

Human Rights Watch has published yesterday a press release on the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, calling for accountability on all sides, and noting that Israel controls these areas through repression, institutionalized discrimination, and systematic abuses of the Palestinian population’s rights.

HRW added that “At least five categories of major violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law characterize the occupation: unlawful killings; forced displacement; abusive detention; the closure of the Gaza Strip and other unjustified restrictions on movement; and the development of settlements, along with the accompanying discriminatory policies that disadvantage Palestinians.”

The organization noted that most Palestinians have been subjected to abuses due to the continuation of the Israeli occupation, including children, while Israeli settlers have enjoyed complete freedom, adding, “Few Palestinians have escaped serious rights abuses during this 50-year occupation.”

HRW continued as saying the Israeli forces have killed over ‘2,000 Palestinians’ in its latest three offensives on Gaza in 2014, 2012, and 2008 alone, while in the West Bank it has used excessive force against Palestinian protestors.

HRW has also accused “Palestinian groups of committing war crimes” by launching rockets at Israeli colonies during the offensives.

HRW stressed that Israel continues to build settlements in the West Bank in violation of the international law, saying: “By 2017, Israel had established 237 settlements there, housing approximately 580,000 settlers.”

This policy, HRW added, resulted in forcible displacement of Palestinians, “Including making it nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain building permits in East Jerusalem and in the 60 percent of the West Bank.” In line with policy, Israel has excluded hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from its population registry, thus restricting their place of residence to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

At the same time, Israel has imposed restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, resulting in hindering Palestinian access to education and medical care. “These restrictions affect nearly every aspect of everyday life, separating families, restricting access to medical care and educational and economic opportunities, and perpetuating unemployment and poverty,” HRW said.

Speaking of Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails, HRW noted that some hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been detained since 1967 by Israel. At the same time, Palestinian authorities, both in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, have continued to arrest their opponents.

“Fifty years of occupation and decades of a fruitless peace process should put firmly to rest the notion that downplaying human rights will ease the path to a negotiated solution to the conflict,” HRW said. “Concerted action for rights and accountability is urgently needed, including through the International Criminal Court.”


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