by United Nations Human Rights Commission –
UNITED NATIONS (September 30, 2003) — Israel is using excessive force in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), violating human rights in the name of counter-terrorism, and its building of a “separation wall” and expansion of settlements bear the hallmarks of annexation and illegal “conquest,” according to a United Nations human rights report released today.
While acknowledging Israel’s legitimate security concerns and its right to
take strong action to prevent suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism,
the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights for the OPT, John
Dugard, says the lawfulness of Israel’s response is to be measured in
accordance with the principle of proportionality.
“The Special Rapporteur finds it difficult to accept that the excessive use
of force that disregards the distinction between civilians and combatants,
the creation of a humanitarian crisis by restrictions on the mobility of
goods and people, the killing and inhuman treatment of children, the
widespread destruction of property and, now, territorial expansion can be
justified as a proportionate response to the violence and threats of
violence to which Israel is subjected,” Mr. Dugard writes.
“On occasion, Israel’s action in the OPT is so remote from the interests of
security that it assumes the character of punishment, humiliation and
conquest,” he adds. “Some limit must be placed on the violation of human
rights in the name of counter-terrorism. A balance must be struck between
respect for human rights and the interests of security.”
Mr. Dugard notes that the wall separating Israel from the West Bank “has
been frenetically pursued,” does not follow the de facto boundary line, and
incorporates large areas of the West Bank into Israel, with over 210,000
Palestinians threatened with being effectively cut off from their farmlands,
workplaces, schools and health clinics.
“The evidence strongly suggests that Israel is determined to create facts on
the ground amounting to de facto annexation. Annexation of this kind, known
as conquest in international law, is prohibited by the Charter of the United
Nations and the Fourth Geneva Convention,” he adds, calling for it to be
condemned as unlawful annexation.
Mr. Dugard also says that restrictions on freedom of movement continue to
create a humanitarian crisis in the OPT and that the death toll continues to
rise as a result of suicide bombings and military incursions.
Calling for an independent inquiry on Palestinians in Israeli jails, he
writes: “Sadly, allegations of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment
continue to be made.”
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