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        Economic and Social Council
14 February 2005


Sixty-first session
Item (8) of the provisional agenda


Written statement* submitted by the Organization for Defending Victims of Violence,
a non-governmental organization in special consultative status

The Secretary-General has received the following written statement which is circulated in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31.
[31 January 2005]

* This written statement is issued, unedited, in the language(s) received from the submitting non-governmental organization(s).

The international community has for years institutionally accepted the observation of human rights and humanitarian law. On the other hand, we also witness the signing of several international treaties and conventions in this regard. One of the issues that has preoccupied the minds of human rights defenders over the years is the violation of human and humanitarian law in the Palestinian Occupied Territories by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Israel joined in January 1992), which reflects and promotes most of the contents of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, which by joining it on 6 August 1951, Israel committed itself to observe its contents, have all clearly called for the observation of human rights by the members of the international community. Subsequently, by issuing several resolutions the UN General Assembly has recommended the observation of human rights principles. Nevertheless, we still witness the widespread violation of human rights and humanitarian law in the Occupied Territories by the IDF.

The violation of human rights has increased over the last fifteen years, with the start of the First Intifda in the Occupied Territories. The extent of this so much that as well international human rights NGOs, the UN General Assembly and Security Council have continually been issuing resolutions calling on Israel to observe human rights. The IDF, however continue their inhuman actions.

Aside from the campaigns of human rights defending organizations, who have reacted towards Israelis inhuman behaviours, if we just consider the annual reports of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) Commissioner General which are prepared for the members of the General Assembly, the extent of the crimes of the IDF that are committed in the Occupied Territories can easily be observed. Following the start of the Second Intifada four years ago, the IDF, according to international human rights organizations such as MIFTAH and B’Tselem have killed over 3000 Palestinian civilians, 500 of which are children.

As well as the abovementioned figures, other published documents indicate that over 80,000 Palestinians have been injured over this four-year period.

The extensive demolition and destruction of over 3000 Palestinian homes, is another facet of the inhuman behaviour of the IDF. Alongside these, the destruction of hundreds of shops, factories, public places and farmland must not also be forgotten. With the aim of the construction of Jewish settlements the Israelis have destroyed over ten percent of Palestinian farmlands in the Gaza Strip.

The extent of Palestinian homes destruction is so much that in his annual report to the UN General Assembly in 2003, while referring to the destruction of Palestinian refugees homes in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (4100 homes destroyed, and 28,000 made homeless) UNWRA’s Commissioner General said that the Agency was not able to prevent these homes destruction quickly enough. The increase in the destruction of Palestinian homes has left tens of thousands of people homeless.

The inhuman treatment of Palestinians, such as the deprivations enforced on them, while reducing employment, education and medical care, causes the spread of poverty among these suffering people. According to latest UNWRA figures, approximately 2.2 million Palestinians live below the poverty line. The aforementioned actions also cause malnutrition and other physical problems to come about among the Palestinian people.

The violation of humanitarian rights has intensified with the construction of parts of the Security Barrier. Contrary to the Israelis claim that the barrier is to prevent suicide bombers from crossing into Israel, it seems that the construction of the barrier in parts of the Occupied Territories pursues other purposes.

As well as isolating and separating Palestinians in some parts, the said barrier also has split up Palestinian farmlands. And in view of the fact that over 80% of Jewish settlements have been constructed in Occupied Territories, the Security Barrier has been constructed to include 60 Jewish Settlements. Despite the international community and International Court of Justice (ICJ) calling the construction of the barrier illegal, the Israelis insist on the continuation with its construction. It must be said that since the start of the construction of the barrier in 2002, to-date 185 kilometres of the barrier have been completed and 70 kilometres is under construction.

The Israelis actions have intensified in such serious way with the formation of execution squads since the beginning of Intifada, that even women and children are not safe from the their bullets. The killing of Palestinian students in their classrooms in UNRWA protected refugee camps such as Khan Younis in September 2004 was so brutal that it caused the widespread protests of human rights advocate groups around the world.

Other terrorist actions of the IDF include the assassination of Palestinian leaders, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and Rantisi in particular. For years now we have witnessed Israel’s inhuman actions be condemned by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). Despite a number of countries support for Israel’s inhuman actions, the CHR condemned these actions, but the Israelis continue to repeat their inhuman actions with total disregard to the resolutions that have been issued.

Alongside all the IDF inhuman actions over the last few decades, the violation of the basic rights of the Palestinians must not be forgotten. The right to return, is one of the most important rights of the Palestinians, something which the Israelis have opposed the rights of these people to return to their homes, despite the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (11 December 1948) confirm about the rights of these people to return to their homes.

The Organization for Defending Victims of Violence firmly calls upon the international community to adopt measure to force Israel to comply with all international covenants and resolutions, particularly those of the CHR. Israel must realise and understand that the violation of human rights and humanitarian law, will not only bring no peace and security to the region, but will not even bring about any security for the Israelis or Palestinians.

The ODVV firmly declares that the observation of humanitarian law, is for times of armed conflict, whereas the observation of human rights is during war and peace.

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