In light of the recent mass killing of civilians in occupied Palestine, the undersigned 95 organizations call on the UN Human Rights Council to urgently launch an independent investigation into violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory, occurring in the context of the "March of Great Return" and Nakba protests.

There are currently over seven million Palestinian refugees spread across the globe, including 1.3 million refugees in the Gaza Strip.[1] As the result of decades of dispossession, oppression and violations of international law, including 11 years of unlawful closure and blockade of the Gaza Strip, Palestinians therein and elsewhere in occupied Palestine have embarked on a six week campaign of largely peaceful protests, starting on 30 March 2018. The actions by the Israeli forces in response to the demonstrations, particularly those taking place in the eastern parts of the Gaza Strip, amount to excessive, indiscriminate and disproportionate use of lethal force. They may also amount to widespread wilful killings and may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. On 28 April 2018, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that, “[i]n the context of an occupation such as Gaza, killings resulting from the unlawful use of force may also constitute wilful killings which are a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”[2]

Since the start of these large-scale protests, approximately 111 Palestinians have been killed, including 12 children, two journalists, and four persons with disabilities. During the same period, approximately 7,000 were injured, including 1,244 children, 253 women, 42 paramedics, and 60 journalists – at least 3,615 of whom were hit by live fire.[3] In response to the demonstrations, the Israeli military has allegedly been using live ammunition intentionally with the aim of killing and seriously injuring civilians, as demonstrated by the use of high-velocity, military-grade weapons that cause devastating, and in some cases life-changing injuries.

A video distributed by an Israeli soldier shows Israeli snipers celebrating the killing of Palestinians, illustrating a culture of impunity that is enjoyed by members of Israeli forces and emboldened by policy-level decisions. Further, the Israeli judicial system has demonstrated that it is unable and unwilling to ensure accountability for such serious crimes according to international standards.

In response to these events, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for independent investigations[4] into the killings, while the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Bin Ra’ad, echoed this call and highlighted that “[e]very week, we witness instances of use of lethal force against unarmed demonstrators” while noting that “[w]arnings by the United Nations and others have seemingly gone unheeded, as the approach of the security forces from week to week does not seem to have changed.”[5]

The Israeli government continues to disregard the numerous recommendations by UN officials to exercise restraint in its response to the protests in the Gaza Strip and elsewhere in occupied Palestine. In fact, the Israeli military has increased the use of force against the civilian population in violation of its obligations under international law to ensure the welfare and respect of the fundamental rights of the occupied population under its control.

The escalating protests over the last six months intensified following the announcement of 6 December 2017 by US President Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in blatant disregard for international law. On Monday, 14 May 2018, the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem entrenched and endorsed Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem, in violation of Article 2(4) of the Charter of the United Nations on the prohibition of annexation - a general principle of international law - and in breach of Israel’s obligations as an Occupying Power under Article 47 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which concerns the protection of the occupied Palestinian population from any measures of “annexation by the latter of the whole or part of the occupied territory.”

The undersigned organisations join the UN Secretary General and High Commissioner for Human Rights’ calls for action, and specifically demand that the UN Human Rights Council urgently establish a Commission of Inquiry with a view to: (i) ensuring legal accountability for perpetrators of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including for individual and command responsibility, and (ii) facilitating and expediting existing international investigations and examinations. The Human Rights Council should also encourage the International Criminal Court to urgently open a full investigation into alleged international crimes committed by the Occupying Power. Finally, the undersigned organizations call for an end to the 51 years- of occupation of Palestinian territory, including the immediate lifting of the closure and blockade of the Gaza Strip. In the words of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights “enough is enough.” [6]

Signatories:

  1. Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT)
  2. ActionAid International
  3. ADDAMEER Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
  4. Al Mezan Center For Human Rights Rights
  5. Aldameer Association for Human Rights
  6. Algemene Centrale-ABVV /La Centrale Générale-FGTB
  7. Al-Haq
  8. ALTSEAN-Burma
  9. Article 1 Collective
  10. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  11. Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)
  12. Association ADALA pour le droit a un process equitable (ADALA)
  13. Association AMAL pour La Femme et le Développement
  14. Association Belgo-Palestinienne WB
  15. Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS)
  16. BADIL - Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
  17. Broederlijk Delen
  18. Buliisa Initiative for Rural Development Organisation (BIRUDO)
  19. Bytes For All, Pakistan
  20. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  21. Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
  22. Center for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights - Hurryyat
  23. Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales - CELS
  24. Christian Reformed Church Office of Social Justice
  25. Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem
  26. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  27. CNCD-11.11.11
  28. Coalition for Accountability and Integrity - AMAN
  29. CODEPINK
  30. Collectif Interuniversitaire pour la Coopération avec les Universités Palestiniennes
  31. Comités pour le Développement et le patrimoine
  32. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)
  33. Community Action Center – Al-Quds University
  34. Conectas Direitos Humanos
  35. Corporate Accountability Lab
  36. Defence for Children International - Palestine
  37. DefendDefenders
  38. EuroMed Rights
  39. European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine
  40. Fédération des Associations Marocaines en France
  41. Filastiniyat Association
  42. Geneeskunde voor de Derde Wereld
  43. Gents Actieplatform Palestina (GAPP)
  44. Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  45. Human Rights Law Network, India
  46. Immigration Developpement Democratie – France
  47. Institut de recherche en droits humains (IRDH)
  48. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
  49. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  50. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
  51. Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center
  52. Kvinna till Kvinna
  53. L’Association Marocaine des Droits Humains
  54. L'Association Marocaine des Droits Humains
  55. Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR)
  56. Le Comité pour le Respect des Libertés et des Droits de l’Homme – Tunisie
  57. Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP)
  58. MIFTAH
  59. MOC- Mouvement Ouvrier Chrétien
  60. Moroccan Forum for Young Journalists (MFYJ)
  61. Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l'amitié entre les peuples (MRAP)
  62. Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD)
  63. New Orleans Palestinian Solidarity Committee
  64. Norwegian People's Aid
  65. Odhikar
  66. Otros Mundos AC/Chiapas, México
  67. Palestina Solidariteit
  68. Palestinian Bar Association
  69. Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
  70. Palestinian Coalition For Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
  71. Palestinian Journalist Syndicate
  72. Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network
  73. Pax Christi Flanders
  74. Pax Christi International
  75. Platform of French NGOs for Palestine (Plateforme des ONG Françaises pour la Palestine)
  76. Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies
  77. REF – Réseau Euromed France
  78. Sahara Observatory for Peace and Democracy for Human Rights
  79. Society of St. Yves
  80. Solidarité Socialiste
  81. The Civil Commission for independence of the judiciary and rule of law (ISTIQLAL)
  82. The Independent Commission for Human Rights (Ombudsman Office)
  83. The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA)
  84. The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH)
  85. The Rights Forum
  86. The WoMin African Alliance
  87. ToBe Foundation for rights and Freedoms
  88. Trócaire
  89. US Campaign for Palestinian Rights
  90. Vrede vzw
  91. Women in Black (Vienna)
  92. Women's Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling
  93. Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
  94. Youth for sexual and reproductive rights (WAAI)
  95. 11.11.11

- Ends -

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May 18, 2018 By bytesforall