16 May 2021
The undersigned human rights organizations said in a statement that the bloody violent incidents in the occupied Palestinian territories (East Jerusalem) and their repercussions and effects on the situation in the Gaza Strip are a natural result of the racial segregation and discrimination policies that Israel entrenched through its laws, and its brutal and repressive response to the peaceful protests that erupted as a result of its forced eviction policy against residents of East Jerusalem.
The organizations added that the evictions carried out by the Israeli authorities in Sheikh Jarrah and other old neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem are a clear and explicit violation of international law, which may amount to “war crimes” as described by the spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville.
The organizations pointed out that the laws that Israel relies on to evict Palestinians from their homes, namely the Absentees’ Property Law and the Legal and Administrative Matters Law of 1970, are of an explicitly discriminatory nature.
According to international laws, the occupying power must respect and cannot confiscate private property in occupied territory and must respect the laws in force in the country, as explained by Colville in a statement earlier this week.
The organizations stressed that what Israel is doing with the residents of the Sheikh Jarrah and other neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem is contrary to international laws. Israel cannot impose its own set of laws in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, to expel Palestinians from their homes. Among those unfair laws is the 1950 Law, which prohibits Palestinians from recovering the property they lost in the 1947-1949 war. While the 1970 law allows Israeli Jews to reclaim the property they lost during the war itself, amid repeated evictions of Palestinian families under these laws several times over the years, raising deep concerns about impunity and lack of accountability.
The spokesman for the High Commissioner for Human Rights has affirmed that the application of the two laws was applied in an inherently discriminatory manner, based solely on the nationality or origin of the owner and that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of East Jerusalem, including expropriation of land and properties, are “null and void”. He stressed that East Jerusalem is still part of the occupied Palestinian territories, in accordance with international and humanitarian law.
UN experts also confirmed, according to a media statement that “The recent scenes of Israeli police and security forces attacking large crowds of Palestinian residents and worshipers is only intensifying a deeply inflammatory atmosphere in the city,” noting that “a militarized response to civilian protests against discriminatory practices only deepens social divisions. Respecting rights is the only path forward.”
The crackdown on Palestinians in Jerusalem has prompted the Palestinian factions in Gaza to fire rockets into Israeli territory, which in turn led the Israeli authorities to carry out a retaliatory response and launch airstrikes and artillery attacks on several residential neighbourhoods in the besieged enclave, killing 192 people, including 58 children and 34 women, and wounding 1235 others, according to the latest estimates of the Palestinian Ministry of Health on Sunday.
The signatory organizations denounce the position of US President Biden’s administration regarding the attacks that may amount to crimes against humanity committed by Israel against Palestinian civilians in the occupied territories. The US administration has refrained from condemning Israel’s violations, which is inconsistent with the commitment it had previously announced towards the protection of human rights around the world.
The organizations also denounce the bombing of civilian homes by the Israeli occupation forces in Gaza, as they destroyed the Al-Jalaa building that hosts offices and media outlets, such as the Associated Press and Al Jazeera news network, to cover up the crimes it commits against civilians. In this regard, the signatory organizations reiterate the demands adopted by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) in a statement it issued, calling on the international community to:
1- Recognize the reality of Israel’s imposition of an apartheid regime over the Palestinian people as a whole and take immediate and direct effective measures – including but not limited to sanctions, an arms embargo, and travel bans – to ensure that they, as members of a global community subject to international law, do not contribute directly or indirectly to the continued maintenance of apartheid;
2- Reconstitute the UN Special Committee against Apartheid and the UN Centre against Apartheid to address Israel’s apartheid regime. These bodies were instrumental in building international support for collective action by states in order to overcome apartheid in South Africa;
3- Support international justice and accountability mechanisms, including the ICC investigation into the situation in Palestine, activate universal jurisdiction mechanisms to suspected perpetrators of international crimes in their own jurisdictions and pursue the implementation of accountability resolutions adopted by the UN Human Rights Council as well as the recommendations of previous UN investigatory mechanisms on Palestine;
4- Call for a Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council to urgently address the deteriorating human rights situation.
1- The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
2- El Nadeem Center against Violence and Torture
3- Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF)
4- Foundation for Freedom of Thought and Expression
5- Egyptian Front for Human Rights
6- Belady Center for Rights and Freedoms
7- The Freedom Initiative
8- Centre for Egyptian Women Legal Assistance
9- Committee for Justice (CFJ)
10- Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
11-the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information