1 July 2008 – A three-member United Nations team investigative team has received accounts of grave economic, health and human rights conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly in Gaza, from witnesses it interviewed in Jordan, the second stop on a three-nation visit that also includes Egypt and Syria.
In a statement issued at the end of its visit to Amman, the UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories expressed serious concern about reports it received about the “strangulation” of the Palestinian economy, the impact of the separation wall on the human rights of Palestinians, expanding settlements, and the condition of the Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons and detention centres.
Witnesses spoke about the impact of the Israeli border control regime and other trade-related restrictions and obstacles on the economy in the occupied Palestinian territory. The team also heard about difficulties in accessing water, worsening sanitary conditions in Gaza and deteriorating health conditions, particularly among children.
According to the testimony received, serious restrictions on the right to freedom of movement has in turn severely curtailed a wide range of other human rights including the rights to health, education, work and family life.
Several witnesses detailed infringements on the human rights of more than 10,000 Palestinian detainees including women and children in Israeli prisons and detention centres, such as lack of legal guarantees, torture and ill-treatment and harassment.
“Such policies and practices affecting Palestinian people are a serious threat to the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people and must be halted immediately,” the Special Committee said.
The group was particularly concerned by testimonies received about a draft Israeli Law regarding civil damages, by which residents of the occupied Palestinian territory would be prevented from seeking compensation for damages inflicted on them by Israeli security forces, even in cases where damages – to property or to the person, including torture – were caused outside the context of military operations.
The Special Committee will continue its visit to the region in Syria from 1 to 5 July.