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UNITED
NATIONS
A

        General Assembly
Distr.
GENERAL
A/55/453
5 October 2000

Original: English

Fifty-fifth session
Agenda item 85
Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli
Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian
People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories




Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories


Note by the Secretary-General*


1. The Secretary-General has the honour to transmit to the General Assembly the thirty-second report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 54/76 of 6 December 1999.

2. This report should be considered together with the Special Committee’s periodic reports (A/55/373 and Add.1).

______________
* The footnote requested by the General Assembly in its resolution 54/248 was not included in the submission.


Contents

Paragraphs
Page
I.Introduction
1–3
3
II.Mandate
4–12
3
A.General background
4–9
3
B.General Assembly resolution 54/76 of 6 December 1999
10
4
C.Reports of the Special Committee
11–12
4
III.Organization of work
13–31
4
A.Meetings
13–18
4
B.Nature of evidence
19–25
5
C.Other aspects
26–31
5
IV.Observations and recommendations
32–144
6
A.Situation of human rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories: Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem
36–107
6
B.Situation of human rights in the occupied Syrian Arab Golan
108–123
17
C.Official communications received by the Special Committee
124–126
18
    1.
Jordan
125
19
    2.
Syrian Arab Republic
126
24
D.Conclusions
127–144
44
Annex
Documents and other material before the Special Committee
47




I. Introduction


1. The Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories was established by the General Assembly by its resolution 2443 (XXIII) of 19 December 1968.

2. The Special Committee is composed of three Member States: Malaysia (represented by the Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations, Hasmy Agam), Senegal (represented by the Permanent Representative of Senegal to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Absa Claude Diallo) and Sri Lanka (represented by the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations, John de Saram, serving as Chairperson).

3. The Special Committee reports to the Secretary-General. The reports of the Special Committee are considered in the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) of the General Assembly.


II. Mandate


A. General background


4. The General Assembly, in its resolution 2443 (XXIII) of 19 December 1968, entitled “Respect for and implementation of human rights in occupied territories”, decided to establish a Special Committee, composed of three Member States, to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories.

5. The General Assembly, in its resolution 44/48 A of 8 December 1989, decided to change the name of the Special Committee to Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.

6. The mandate of the Special Committee, as set out in resolution 2443 (XXIII) and subsequent resolutions, was to investigate Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the population of the occupied territories.

7. The Special Committee has proceeded on the basis that:

(a) For the purposes of the present report, the territories considered occupied territories are those remaining under Israeli occupation, namely, the occupied Syrian Arab Golan, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip;

(b) The persons covered by resolution 2443 (XXIII) and therefore the subject of the investigation of the Special Committee were the civilian population residing in the areas occupied as a result of the hostilities of June 1967 and those persons normally resident in the areas that were under occupation but who had left those areas because of the hostilities;

(c) The “human rights” of the population of the occupied territories consists of two elements, namely, those rights which the Security Council referred to as “essential and inalienable human rights” in its resolution 237 (1967) of 14 June 1967 and, secondly, those rights which found their basis in the protection afforded by international law in particular circumstances such as military occupation and, in the case of prisoners of war, capture. In accordance with General Assembly resolution 3005 (XXVII) of 15 December 1972, the Special Committee was required to investigate allegations concerning the exploitation and the looting of the resources of the occupied territories, the pillaging of the archaeological and cultural heritage of the occupied territories and interference in the freedom of worship in the Holy Places of the occupied territories;

(d) The “policies” and “practices” affecting human rights that come within the scope of investigation by the Special Committee refer, in the case of “policies”, to any course of action consciously adopted and pursued by the Government of Israel as part of its declared or undeclared intent; while “practices” refer to those actions which, irrespective of whether or not they were in implementation of a policy, reflect a pattern of behaviour on the part of the Israeli authorities towards the civilian population in the occupied areas;

(e) The geographical names and the terminology employed in the present report reflect the usage in the original source and do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Special Committee or the Secretariat of the United Nations.

8. The Special Committee has, with respect to human rights, relied on the following:

(a) The Charter of the United Nations;

(b) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of 10 December 1948; 1/

(c) The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of 16 December 1966; 2/

(d) The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, of 16 December 1966; 2/

(e) The Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949; 3/

(f) The Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, of 12 August 1949; 4/

(g) The Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, of 14 May 1954; 5/

(h) The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land. 6/

9. The Special Committee has also relied on those resolutions relevant to the situation of civilians in the occupied territories adopted by United Nations organs — the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council and the Commission on Human Rights — as well as the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).


B. General Assembly resolution 54/76 of 6 December 1999


10. The General Assembly, in its resolution 54/76 of 6 December 1999:

C. Reports of the Special Committee


11. Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 54/76, in 2000 the Special Committee submitted a first periodic report, relating to the period from 21 August 1999 to 28 February 2000 (A/55/373), and a second periodic report, relating to the period from 1 March to 31 July 2000 (A/55/373/Add.1).

12. The present final report for 2000 is also submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 54/76.


III. Organization of work


A. Meetings


13. The Special Committee met in Geneva on 17 March 2000 to discuss its methods of work and programme for 2000. During the meeting, it held consultations with representatives of ILO, the Syrian Arab Republic and the representative of the Palestinian Authority to review and finalize arrangements for its meetings to be held in Cairo, Amman and Damascus. The Special Committee also considered its first periodic report to the Secretary-General (A/55/373) and prepared for its meetings in Egypt, Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic from 19 to 31 May 2000 for the purpose of hearing from persons living in the occupied territories.

14. The Special Committee met in Cairo, Amman and Damascus from 19 to 30 May 2000. It convened initially in Cairo from 19 to 21 May, from 23 to 25 May in Amman and from 26 to 30 May in Damascus.

15. In Cairo, (19-21 May), the Special Committee met with representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and heard the testimony of witnesses living in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

16. In Amman (23-25 May), the Special Committee met with the Director-General of the Department of Palestinian Affairs and representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Committee heard the testimony of witnesses from the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem.

17. In the Syrian Arab Republic (26-30 May), the Special Committee met with the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Nasser Kadour, and with the Director of International Organizations Department, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Klovis Khoury. The Special Committee visited Quneitra Province, bordering the occupied Syrian Arab Golan, and met with the Governor of Quneitra, Walid Al-Buz. In Quneitra, the Special Committee heard the testimony of witnesses who provided information with reference to the occupied Syrian Arab Golan.

18. A total of 24 witnesses from the occupied territories and Israel appeared before the Special Committee at its meetings in Damascus, Amman and Cairo.


B. Nature of evidence


19. The evidence, oral and documentary, presented to the Special Committee at its meetings in 2000 were similar in nature to the evidence, oral and documentary, that was presented to the Committee in 1999 and described in its report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fourth session (A/54/325).

20. The present report is based on oral and documentary materials presented under oath to the Special Committee and is available for consultation in records maintained by United Nations verbatim reporters. The various materials are listed in the annex to the report and are also available for consultation.

21. The testimony before the Special Committee concerned such questions as the Israeli settlement policy; confiscation of land; house demolitions; revocation of residence permits in Jerusalem; water supply for domestic and agricultural use; movement of persons and goods; closures; treatment of prisoners and detainees; health conditions in the occupied territories; and the general economic and social situation in the area.

22. The Special Committee also received excerpts of reports appearing in the Israeli press and in the Arab press published in the occupied territories. The Special Committee received a number of communications and reports from Governments, non-governmental organizations, international organizations and individuals concerning the occupied territories.

23. The material before the Special Committee consisted of the following:

24. The various materials are listed in the annex to the report and are also available for consultation.

25. The Special Committee took note of the report of Mr. Giorgio Giacomelli, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights to investigate Israel’s violations of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967 (E/CN.4/2000/25).


C. Other aspects


1. Inability of the Special Committee to visit the occupied territories

26. The Special Committee has not, since its establishment in 1968, had access to the occupied territories. This is unfortunate, as necessarily, the report of the Special Committee is for that reason of a limited nature. In preparing for its field mission in 2000, the Special Committee addressed a letter to the Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations Office at Geneva on 22 March 2000, requesting that it be allowed to visit the occupied territories, and brought its request that it be permitted to do so to the attention of the Secretary-General. The Government of Israel did not respond to the formal request of the Special Committee.

2. Cooperation of the Governments of Egypt, Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic

27. As in previous years, the Special Committee received the cooperation of the Governments of Egypt, Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic, and of various Palestinian representatives.

3. Exchanges with other United Nations bodies

28. The Special Committee considers it necessary to note in its present report that when a United Nations body established by the General Assembly, such as the Special Committee, undertakes a mission to the field, it is mutually beneficial and necessary that there be exchanges of views with United Nations bodies with knowledge of relevant matters, the work of the Special Committee being part of the totality of a United Nations endeavour.

29. The Special Committee is particularly grateful for the very useful exchange of views it had with a representative from ILO while meeting in Geneva.

30. The Special Committee also wishes to record with much appreciation the cooperation extended by the United Nations Resident Coordinator/Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Syrian Arab Republic, who met with the members of the Special Committee upon arrival, accompanied them throughout their meetings in Damascus and shared with them information of relevance.

4. Communications by the Special Committee

31. The Special Committee communicated with the Secretary-General of the United Nations and with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for the purpose of bringing to their attention the recommendations of the Special Committee in paragraphs 264 and 265 of its 1999 report (A/54/325).


IV. Observations and recommendations


32. A principal and recurring theme in the presentations made to the Special Committee was that the finalization of the peace process in a manner satisfactory to all concerned is, now more than ever before, of overwhelming importance.

33. The frustrations, tensions and often great anger of the people of the occupied territories, under the oppressiveness of an occupation that has continued for so long, was referred to by nearly all those who appeared as witnesses before the Special Committee. They spoke of the fact that there has been little or no relief from the pressures of continuous occupation, revealing a very unsatisfactory condition with respect to human rights.

34. On Friday, 29 September 2000, shortly before the final meeting of the Special Committee in New York for the adoption of the present report, violent disturbances, resulting in great loss of life and injuries, erupted at the Holy Places in East Jerusalem, spreading to the occupied territories of West Bank, Gaza and also to several Arab townships in Israel. The violence occurred following the visit to the holy Islamic site of Al-Haram Al-Sharif or the Dome of the Rock compound in Jerusalem of Ariel Sharon, leader of the opposition Likud party, accompanied by a very large party of armed Israeli forces personnel.

35. On 2 October 2000, the Chairman of the Special Committee received a communication from the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Office at Geneva, drawing attention to the violence erupting, the loss of life among civilians, including children, and the use of greatly disproportionate force on the part of the occupying authorities. The Security Council convened on 1 October in emergency session to consider the situation.


A. Situation of human rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories: Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem


36. The Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, applies to Israel as the “occupying power”, in the terms of the Convention, as reaffirmed by the High Contracting Parties participating at a Conference convened in Geneva on 15 July 1999. A number of persons appearing before the Special Committee expressed the view that it was important that the international community pursue with the Government of Switzerland, in its capacity as depositary of the Convention, the convening of a substantial conference on measures to enforce the Convention in the occupied Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem.

37. As the Special Committee understands it, under the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, signed on 13 September 1993 (A/48/486-S/26560, annex), and the subsequent related instruments (the so-called Oslo Accord and subsequent related instruments), the occupied Palestinian territories are divided into areas A, B and C, with allocations of responsibilities with regard to security and civil administration being vested between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, in ways specified in such instruments.

1. Restrictions relating to land, housing and water

38. Restrictions in the occupied territories of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, with respect to land, housing and water, severely affect the Palestinians.

(a) Land

39. Confiscation of land. The information made available to the Special Committee confirms that confiscation of Palestinian-owned land, as noted in paragraphs 28 to 31 of the report of the Special Committee to the General Assembly at its fifty-third session (A/53/661), still continues. Although the scale of confiscation has not been revealed, unofficial estimates put the percentage of the West Bank land that had been confiscated at 41 per cent in 1984, 60 per cent in 1991 and 73 per cent in 1998. The current situation with regard to Area C appears to be that almost all the east side except Jericho has been confiscated, while on the west side perhaps half has been confiscated. Since the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip on 28 September 1995 (Oslo II), confiscation has continued at the rate of about 37 square kilometres (0.6 per cent of the West Bank) a year.

40. Establishment of new settlements and expansion of existing ones. The Special Committee was informed that, during 1999, the Israeli occupation forces continued settlement activities throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories. According to testimonies and reports received by the Special Committee, the number of Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip totals 19, some of which are inhabited by no more than 10 people, while the total population of these settlements is about 5,000 settlers. The Israeli settlements are located in the most strategic areas of Gaza Strip, and include within their territories the most fertile land and most important water sources in the Gaza Strip.

41. The change of government in Israel and the fact that the Labour party, headed by Prime Minister Ehud Barak, has come to power has not changed the situation. After the elections, which were held on 17 May 1999, at the beginning of the month of October the Ministerial Committee on Settlements adopted a proposal by the Minister of Housing, Yitzhak Levy, to establish 2,600 settlement units in the West Bank. This escalation has been accompanied by an international Israeli campaign to mislead world public opinion. When the Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Barak, announced his intention to take measures concerning 42 settlements that had been indiscriminately established, the Israeli media carried out full and intensive coverage of the occupation forces as they tried to demolish the settlements at one of the sites, on 10 November 1999. From among the 42 locations mentioned, the Israeli Government determined that only 13 were illegal.

42. A witness informed the Special Committee that since the election of the Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Barak, there have been more permits issued to build on the settlements than under the previous Israeli Government headed by Prime Minister Netanyahu. About 3,200 permits have been issued in the past year to build new houses in the settlements. In the previous year, under the former government of Prime Minister Netanyahu, there were 3,000. So there is an increase of 200 under the Israeli Government headed by the current Prime Minister, Mr. Barak.

43. Following are several examples of instances of such settlement activities that were brought to the attention of the Special Committee:

44. It was also reported that in many cases the army has systematically assisted in protecting and supporting settlers in taking Palestinian-owned land:
45. The Special Committee was also told that Israeli forces have used government lands for settlement rather than preserving them for the benefit of Palestinian civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories.

(b) Housing

46. The general situation with respect to housing as reported to the Special Committee seems to have remained very much as it has been in previous years and as described, in particular, in the Special Committee’s 1998 report to the General Assembly (A/53/661).

47. Once again during the current reporting period, a number of persons who appeared before the Special Committee spoke of a severe shortage of housing in the cities and towns of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

48. A witness informed the Special Committee that Israel invests enormous resources in building large Jewish neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem. At the same time, the Israeli authorities are choking off the development of the Palestinian population, which is perceived as a “demographic threat” to Israeli control of the city. Of the 70 square kilometres annexed to the Jerusalem Municipality after the Six-Day War, 24.5 km were expropriated, mostly from individual Arab landowners. This expropriated land has been used exclusively for the benefit of the Jewish population.

49. Over a third of East Jerusalem lacks town-planning schemes, making construction impossible. Those planning schemes that exist define vast land tracts as “green area”, where building is forbidden. While some green areas are designed to protect the environment, others simply hold land in reserve for building for the Jewish population. This was the case at Jabal Abu Ghneim, for example. Initially defined as a green area to prevent the neighbouring Arab villages of Sur Baher and Umm Tuba from expanding, Jabal Abu Ghneim was subsequently rezoned for residential construction of the new Jewish neighbourhood of Har Homa.

50. In fact little is left after the expropriations, the green areas and the lands lacking a planning scheme. Palestinian building is only allowed in 7 per cent of East Jerusalem, and already-existing Palestinian neighbourhoods comprise most of this area. Even in these neighbourhoods, however, town planning schemes limit growth by setting low building percentages. For example, an Arab owning a 1,000 square-metre-plot of land may obtain a permit to build a two-story building of 250 square metres. A Jew owning the same size plot could build a four-story building of 2,000 square meters. Israel has succeeded in creating an enormous Jewish population in East Jerusalem, while reducing the Palestinian population. In 1999, in East Jerusalem, there were some 43,000 homes in Jewish neighbourhoods, all built on expropriated land. By contrast, there were 28,000 homes in Palestinian neighbourhoods.

51. Israeli policies have created a housing shortage in Palestinian neighbourhoods and exacerbated overcrowding. Nearly one fourth of Palestinian homes in the city are extremely overcrowded, a phenomenon that is virtually absent among Jews. The housing shortage among Palestinians in Jerusalem exceeds 20,000 housing units.

52. Denial of building permits is one of the reasons that led to the current situation. The Special Committee was told that between 1968 and 1974, only 58 permits had been reportedly issued, and the long process of drawing up outline plans had the legal effect of virtually freezing development in the Palestinian neighbourhoods during that time. In recent years, about 150 permits per annum have been issued. The total number of permits issued since 1967 stands at around 2,950.

53. Land owned by an “absentee” is not given a building permit. This applies even to land which is held in joint ownership, with one of the owners an absentee. This is a particularly harsh situation in East Jerusalem where the term “absentee” includes those with West Bank resident status. Since the boundaries of annexed Jerusalem were drawn to include open land to exclude the nearby towns whose people owned that land, a great deal of land supposedly available for Palestinian development is refused a permit because the owner has the wrong colour card.

Extent and significance of demolitions

54. As the Palestinians continued, because of pressure for accommodation, to construct new houses or to expand existing houses, the subject of the demolition of houses has acquired particular sensitivity. Demolitions of Palestinian houses have continued throughout the period under review.

55. Living as they do in overcrowded conditions, with no hope of obtaining a building permit, it is easy to understand why Palestinians build illegally. They do so, knowing they will forever live in uncertainty that, after investing their life savings to build, their home may be demolished. Both Jews and Palestinians build illegally, yet the response of the Government is not equal. While Palestinians are responsible for less than 20 per cent of illegal construction, nearly two thirds of demolitions are carried out on Palestinian houses. Over the past eight years, the Municipality and the Interior Ministry have demolished 198 Palestinian houses. In 1999 alone, 131 people, including 68 children, lost their homes.

56. Most of the land adjacent to Palestinian neighbourhoods either lacks planning schemes or is defined as green areas. In both cases, building is prohibited. Palestinians who attempt to obtain permits to build in these areas, even on land which they own, will be rejected. Palestinians are also unlikely to obtain permits to add on to existing houses because of the low building percentage allowed in Palestinian neighbourhoods.

57. According to one witness, from the beginning of 2000 until 23 April 2000, Israeli forces demolished 27 residential buildings, and the number of people thereby disadvantaged — the members of families who owned the buildings that were demolished — reached 170. As at 10 May 2000, Israel had confiscated 12,740 dunums of land, uprooted 1,411 fruit trees and destroyed more than 3,000 dunums of land. For example, on 10 May 2000, 20 inhabitants of Dair el Hatab, in the northern part of the West Bank, were injured when soldiers from the Israeli army fired at them while they were trying to defend their land.

58. Confiscation is carried out by issuing notices in Arabic and Hebrew; they are not handed to the inhabitants. The building of bypass roads to ensure the safety of the Israeli settlers in the territory of the West Bank often results in confiscation of land and house demolition. At Dur el Kalar, bypass road construction will probably lead to the confiscation of 13,016 dunums of village land, out of a total area of 14,016 dunums; in other words, only 1,000 dunums will remain. A witness provided the Special Committee with photographs of that agricultural land, which is very fertile and very well known, and supplies the entire region with various kinds of vegetables.

(c) Water

59. In view of its natural scarcity and the manner of its utilization by the settlements, water was described as posing one of the most serious problems for the Palestinians. The Special Committee was told that, on average, Palestinians receive one fourth the amount of water that the Israelis receive. It is not enough. There are about 200 villages that are not connected to the water supply at all.

60. The Special Committee was also informed that Israeli forces continue to seize water resources. In this regard a witness mentioned that Arab inhabitants of the West Bank are allowed to use only 110 million cubic metres of the estimated 800 million cubic metres of water supplied to the West Bank annually. The rest is used by the Israeli settlements and the State of Israel. Large amounts of water are being diverted for Israeli use. For example, 5,000 settlers residing in a part of Al-Khalil daily obtain between 5,000 and 6,000 cubic metres of water, while the amount allotted for the city’s estimated 100,000 inhabitants is only 6,000. As a result, many of the city’s districts go without water for months at a time, and even for up to three months, as is the case in the summer.

61. Areas close to the coast and known to be fertile with underground water have also been seized by Israelis, including settlers. A total of 3,500 dunums have been confiscated in the very fertile area of Mawasi, in Khan Younis, and more than 45 wells have been taken away from the Palestinians by Israeli settlers, who pump the water for the Negev, in the south of Israel, from areas that were occupied in 1948. Palestinians are not allowed to use this water; it is exclusively for Israelis.

2. Relations with settlers

62. The Special Committee was informed that relations between settlers and Palestinians were extremely sensitive and tense, and at times of crises, reached higher levels of intensity and violence. Thus the relation between settlers and Palestinians appeared to the Special Committee to be one of the most fundamental and unfortunate consequences of the occupation.

63. The Special Committee was informed that the condition of these relations was caused by such factors as the confiscation of land, the uprooting of olive trees, some of them centuries old, the scarcity of water and the privileged position settlements seemed to have with respect to water, for domestic and agricultural use, the fact that settlers carried arms and lived in barrier-enclosed areas and the support provided by Israeli authorities and their army and law-enforcement agencies.

64. Many witnesses referred to the situation in Hebron where 20 per cent of the area within the municipal boundary is under Israeli control, but is inhabited by at least 20,000 Palestinians and only 450 Israeli settlers. To ensure the safety of the settlers, the Israeli occupation is maintaining a large military and police force in that part of town. Rather than guaranteeing the security of all citizens, it was reported that the Palestinians are not at all protected from settlers’ attacks.

65. Witnesses appearing before the Special Committee provided the following examples:


3. Environmental concerns

66. As Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are usually located on hilltops, spring water used by Palestinians has often been polluted by sewage water from the settlements or army centres.

67. The Israeli occupying Power and the settlements established on Palestinian lands have been using Palestinian territory to dispose of solid and liquid wastes coming out of factories. This has led to the destruction of thousands of dunums of agricultural land and crops, and has made it impossible to put those lands to any agricultural use. In addition to wastes from the settlements, factories and industrial centres established within the settlements are trying to pump their wastes into adjacent Palestinian areas. They do so without at all taking into consideration the consequences of this on the environment and on Palestinian citizens living nearby. A high percentage of those factories and establishments are involved with the chemical industry, namely, with fertilizers, cement, car batteries, mining and insecticides. These industries have to abide by very exact and scientific methods that are internationally recognized as appropriate for the disposal of such wastes. Those substances have a destructive effect on the environment if disposed of improperly, for they contain mercury, cadmium and other harmful elements.

68. It is worth noting that many of these factories have been established in Israeli settlements because they were not able to obtain permission to operate in Israel because of their harmful impact on the environment and the threat they pose to the health of the population. For example, the fertilizer and insecticide factory located in Jashuri was established in the Tulkarm settlement after it had been prevented from operating in the Israeli city of Natanya because of the danger posed by the disposal of its wastes.

4. Controls and restrictions on movement

69. The permanent state of closure of the occupied territories continues to be applied and the movement of the population of the occupied territories continues to be regulated through permits allowing them to access different parts of the territories. This policy is even tightened during Jewish holidays and in case of security incidents in Israel. On such occasions, access to Israel and movement between the occupied territories is blocked.

70. Many witnesses continued to report that movement is regulated through the policy of permits and magnetic cards, the latter being a requirement especially for the male inhabitants of Gaza and Palestinians working in Israel. Permits are also required for the use of the safe passage between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Since Israel has full control over the safe passage, numerous requests for its use have been refused. According to witnesses which appeared before the Special Committee, from January to April 2000, between 30 and 40 per cent of the total requests for the utilization of the safe passage were rejected.

71. In addition to the above, an extremely serious recent development regarding the freedom of movement is the construction under way of the so-called “Erez II” checkpoint near Bethlehem which will de facto separate the northern part of the West Bank from the southern part. This is further compounded by the fact that non-resident Palestinians need a permit to enter Jerusalem.

72. Furthermore, Israel continues to impose restrictions on movement between areas which are under the rule of the Palestinian Authority, either within the West Bank or within Gaza. With respect to Gaza, a witness mentioned that there is a main corridor that cuts from the north to the south of Gaza, that is to say, from the Israeli border to the Egyptian border. This corridor is full of settlements and military checkpoints. Any settler with a gun could cut off one part of Gaza from another.

5. Judicial and extrajudicial measures


(a) Administrative detention

73. With regard to administrative detention, the Special Committee was told that, in 1999, Israel continued imposing administrative detention against Palestinian detainees. A positive development regarding detention during the period under review has been the decline in the number of Palestinian administrative detainees. At the beginning of 1999, about 100 Palestinian detainees were under administrative detention in Israeli prisons; at the end of 1999, that number had been reduced to 14. The oldest one is Abdel Qader Idriss, 37, who was detained on 22 December 1994 and sentenced to 30 months by an Israeli military court. When he completed his sentence, he was placed in administrative detention. Idriss is the father of two sons, Huthaifah, 9, and Jannate, 5.

74. In July 1999, amendments were introduced to the law governing administrative detention. According to a military order issued at that period, it is now possible, during the first 10 days of administrative detention, to bring the detainee before a committee under a military judge in order to ascertain whether the order, or the time period of the detention, is legal. The problem is that the intelligence services do not respect the decisions adopted by that committee and can override the decisions of judges concerning extensions of detention. One witness mentioned the case of Mr. Daraghmi, an administrative detainee who remained under administrative detention for more than four years. The judge sitting in the appeal committee requested the intelligence services to produce new evidence proving the necessity of keeping him detained or explaining the dangers of his liberation. The intelligence services reportedly ignored the request, and the case of Mr. Daraghmi was then transferred to the Supreme Court. He was finally released after the ruling of the Supreme Court.

75. The Special Committee was also informed about other cases of detainees who served their sentences in prison and were then transferred to administrative detention. In 1999, three detainees were transferred to administrative detention after serving their sentences. Usually, the prison management informs the detainee, the night before his release, that he is going to remain under administrative custody or that he is going to be transferred to administrative detention. On 2 March 1999, in Megiddo military prison, many detainees protested against this practice. The prison administration responded by spraying them with tear gas and beatings.

(b) Imprisonment and conditions of imprisonment

76. There are approximately 1,500 Palestinian detainees currently held in Israeli jails. According to the Palestinian Prisoners Club, 200 Palestinian detainees are being denied family visits. Israeli authorities were using various pretexts based on security concerns to prevent a number of Palestinian detainees from visiting their families. Some detainees were not allowed to receive family visits for periods of up to a year. For example, in 1999, Israel adopted a new measure that prevents second- and third-degree relatives from visiting their family members in prison. This has had a great effect on the non-Palestinian detainees, that is, Arab detainees and political prisoners who are not Palestinians and who are inside Israeli prisons. Those non-Palestinian detainees receive visits only from the Palestinian families who have adopted them in order to follow up their cases and provide them with some of the daily necessities of life. After several protests, in the last quarter of 1999, the prison administration management allowed only the non-Palestinian Arab prisoners to receive visits by the Palestinian adopting families. Some of those detainees have been denied family visits. One witness mentioned the case of Mr. Ateyah Hassan Abu-Assab, 32 years old, who was detained in 1994. For a year and half his brothers have not been allowed to visit him, and for seven months his 68-year-old father and wife have also been denied permission to visit him. Only his four children, all of them under 12 years old, were allowed to visit him. The children used to travel from the occupied territories to Israel with Red Cross buses as none of their family members has a permit to enter Israel and accompany them. Another witness informed the Special Committee that in the newly built prison at Hadareen, families have been prevented from visiting detainees for up to six months. Visits take place via telephone, between a thick glass partition, that separates detainees from families. Eighty persons are held in Hadareen prison, in nearly total isolation from the outside world.

77. Furthermore, during 1999, the prison administration adopted measures against Palestinian lawyers members of the Palestinian Union of Lawyers. When visiting their clients, a policeman must be present, sitting not far from where the meeting is being held, enabling him to listen to the conversation. This method contravenes all the laws governing legal representation, but Israeli’s authorities argue that Palestinian lawyers do not have the right to defend before Israeli courts and therefore they should be considered as family members visiting the detainee.

78. Speaking about health conditions inside prisons, a witness informed the Special Committee that a state of medical negligence prevails, negligence on the part of the prison administration and management with regard to the Palestinian detainees. A medical care facility is installed in every prison, but doctors are available for consultation once or twice a week. Detainees have also to wait for several months before being transferred to a proper hospital for the necessary medical tests and examinations. Food quality has been described as very poor, to the extent that most of the Palestinian detainees buy their own food.

79. On the question of education, Palestinian detainees are not allowed to continue their degree courses while in detention unless they want to pursue them through any of the Hebrew universities; they are not allowed to associate themselves with any Arab universities. Juveniles receive only four hours of tuition a day, and the education programme is the Israeli one, not the programme applied in the occupied Arab territories.

80. It was also reported that there is a clear policy of discrimination between the Israeli Arab detainees — Palestinians with Israeli nationality — and Jewish Israelis. For example, Israeli Arabs are not allowed to use the telephone. In general, life sentences for Jewish detainees are much shorter than those applied to Palestinians with Israeli nationality — Israeli Arabs.

81. Other witnesses informed the Special Committee that Israeli authorities resort to security arguments to isolate the “political detainees”. The Special Committee was informed that Hassan Salami, after serving his sentence, was detained and isolated from other prisoners for a period of four years. Other detainees have been isolated for periods ranging from one and a half to three years. When prisoners are isolated or held incommunicado, they are allowed out of their cells for only one hour a day, during which time their feet and hands are tied. According to those who are isolated, they are often not allowed to receive family visits, under various security pretexts. One witness referred to the case of Abdul Nasser Isa, who was isolated between June 1998 until the end of 1999. During that period, he was prevented from receiving family visits. During 1999, about 62 Palestinian detainees were held in isolation.

82. In 1999, the prison authority management carried out extremely humiliating inspection and search campaigns in all the prisons where political detainees and prisoners were kept. For example, on 14 February 1999, in Beersheba prison, the administration stormed a section where the political prisoners were kept, forcing them to completely take off their clothes, to strip naked. All detainees who refused to be searched under those circumstances were beaten up. This very humiliating search method was also applied to all prisoners who were leaving the prison, either on their way to court for a hearing or to hospital for treatment, and upon their return. This particular method, stripping the detainees and frisking or searching them naked, was slightly relaxed by the prison authority management following the decision by the detainees to engage in a strike and to boycott all court appearances as well as medical examinations.

83. As a result of the continuing deterioration of the living conditions within Israel’s prisons and detention sites, all detainees and prisoners joined an open hunger strike in early May 2000. The hunger strike, “Freedom or Martyrdom”, developed as a protest against the deteriorating conditions in prisons and detention centres. As a result of the hunger strike, the management of the prison administration authority has adopted a number of measures to further escalate the situation, instead of alleviating it. It segregated 10 people from the Hadereen prison and moved them to the Ashkelon prison, where they are continuing their hunger strike. At the same time, several of the detainees have been transferred to hospitals and clinics inside the prisons owing to their ailing health. The hunger strike was still ongoing during the Special Committee field visit in the region.

84. Treatment of women detainees is reportedly no different from that of the male inmates. A witness informed the Special Committee that, in 1999, two Palestinian females were detained. The witness followed up the case of one of them, Monna Kaa’dan, who was questioned for 28 days in the Al-Jalami detention centre. During that time she was frequently — almost continuously — suspended by the arms, deprived of sleep and subjected to threats such as detention of other members of her family or bringing her detained brother to assist during her questioning sessions. She was often placed in cells with girl collaborators. Finally, she was released without any charges being brought.

85. Another witness informed the Special Committee that there were currently five female detainees or prisoners who have been sentenced. They are kept in the same section as the Israeli Jewish common-law prisoners and are subjected to attacks and harassment on a daily basis. Although the internal prison law stipulates that common-law prisoners must be separated from “the security or political prisoners”, the prison authority of Nivi Tirtsa refuses to separate the Palestinian women prisoners from the common-law Israeli Jewish prisoners. In 1999, the prison authority of the same prison also reduced the number of daily recreation hours from 4 to 2 hours. More than once, the female detainees were searched and their personal possessions confiscated from their rooms. They are not allowed to use the telephone. The visiting time they are allowed with their families is half an hour, instead of 45 minutes. Families are often harassed and delayed when they come to visit the girls. Another detainee, Ms. Nisreen Taha, who suffers from an acute psychological condition, has been isolated and kept away from the other female inmates for very lengthy periods of time. It was only after her appearance before the court that she was reinstated again with the other female Palestinian detainees.

(c) Use of force

86. The Special Committee noted that Israel was a party to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 7/ having ratified the Convention in 1991.

87. On 6 September 1999, the Israeli Supreme Court of Justice ruled that the interrogation methods used by the General Security Service (GSS) are illegal and forbidden. The justices adopted the argument raised by jurists and human rights organizations opposing interrogation methods permitted by the Landau Commission. They ruled that GSS has no authority to use physical force during interrogations, and that such acts are illegal. However, the justices stated that “if the State wishes to enable GSS investigators to utilize physical means of interrogation, it must seek the enactment of legislation for this purpose”. 8/ In other words, the decision bans the practices because of the lack of a legal text that could be invoked. In this respect, a number of witnesses mentioned that, following that decision, there have been continuous efforts to enact legislation that would allow physical force to be used during interrogations. A number of observers were therefore under the impression that the decision was a clear call to the Israeli legislature to pass laws allowing investigators of Israeli intelligence to utilize torture.

88. That is indeed what happened when the Government appointed a committee, headed by the Deputy Attorney General, several days later. The Likud bloc in the Knesset introduced a draft law to allow Shabak investigators to use bodily pressure and banned methods of questioning and torture. The draft law also gives the investigators immunity as they carry out these practices. On the political side, the Israeli Government has been pledging to confer immunity on the investigators. Ami Ayalon, the head of the Shabak, held a special meeting on 15 February 2000 at which were present Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Deputy Minister of Defence Premi Snee, Minister of Justice Jusy Belem, the Government’s Legal Counsel, Eliakim Rubenstein, and the State Prosecutor, Edna Arabiel. Mr. Rubenstein pledged at that meeting that legal protection would be provided to any investigator who used special methods in certain cases, namely, torture.

89. Before the adoption of the above decision, the intelligence investigators had relied very heavily on the Landau Commission directives, which allowed the intelligence service to utilize moderate bodily pressure, and that particular licence was extended every three months. The Israeli Supreme Court of Justice has now decided that such permits are null and void. Since that decision was taken, the intelligence investigators have not been allowed to utilize those methods, as determined by the Court: violent shaking, sleep deprivation, continuous suspension by the arms with only a small chair for support, exposure to loud music and covering the head with a dirty bag.

90. One member of an NGO assisting Palestinian detainees has been monitoring 117 cases of detainees who are being questioned in Israeli prisons. Prior to the adoption of the Supreme Court of Justice decision, the Israeli authorities, the intelligence services, frequently resorted to methods of torture while questioning the majority of Palestinian detainees. According to their testimony, more than 90 per cent of the Palestinian detainees were subjected in one way or another to different means of torture, such as continuous suspension by the arms with only a small chair for support for periods exceeding 48 hours, the technique known as shabeh; sleep deprivation; covering their heads with dirty paper or cloth bags; exposing them to music played at a very high volume; and occasional beatings. During the time they were questioned, many detainees were compelled to remain either standing or squatting on the floor for long periods of time. Often, the detainees were made to sit in chairs in very uncomfortable positions, resulting in pain. Other methods such as violent shaking, by which the investigator would grab the detainee by the collar of his shirt, shaking him violently for one minute or longer, were also used. In a number of cases, this method led to the death of the Palestinian being questioned.

91. Since the adoption of the Israeli Supreme Court decision in September 1999, witnesses referred to a number of developments.

92. First of all, there has been an escalation in the practice of preventing lawyers from visiting their clients. According to the military orders and directives, the intelligence services can prevent lawyers’ visits for interrupted periods that can range anywhere from 30 to 60 days. After the first 15 days, the services need an order from a military judge in order to suspend visiting rights. After the adoption of the Supreme Court decision, it has become routine to use this measure against all the detainees. Hence, the detainee will largely be isolated from the outside world and open to all forms of psychological pressure, because the Supreme Court did not consider psychological pressure to be a form of torture.
93. Secondly, the Special Committee was informed that agents and collaborators are increasingly being used by the intelligence services to exert pressure against detainees under questioning. . The collaborators themselves are not bound by the decision of the Supreme Court of Justice, and therefore they often beat up the detainees or threaten them if no confessions are forthcoming. It has also become a routine practice for the detainees to find themselves in cells in which collaborators are also being kept. This method exposes the detainee to great psychological pressure, fearing accusations of being himself a collaborator and threatened with “exposure”, something which would cause many problems for him if he were released, or to threats that his family will come to great harm.

94. Thirdly, for security reasons and in order to protect the life of the investigator, the investigator has still the right to tie up the detainee during the various rounds of interrogation or investigation. They tie the detainee to a chair — an ordinary chair, not a small chair, as before, but still an uncomfortable chair — from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. According to the detained persons whose cases were followed by the NGO, the chair is narrow and ridged at the back to allow for a metal ring to be attached through which the rope passes with which the detainee is tied up. The detainee still suffers, therefore, by being tied to such a chair for periods of seven or eight hours a day.

95. All witnesses stated that the Court decision is a positive step and that, at first, it appeared to be an attempt to put and end to torture, which was routinely used at the time in Israeli prisons during investigations. But, through the constant follow-up of many cases since the adoption of the Supreme Court decision, they have come to believe that the intelligence agents and investigators are trying somehow to circumvent it and are also concerned that the decision might lead the enactment of legislation that would allow GSS to continue to use coercive measures during interrogations.

6. The situation of Palestinian workers

96. Witnesses emphasized the extent to which administrative security measures hampered the development of industrial and commercial activities by Palestinian employers. The requirement for businessmen or trucks to have a permit to cross into Israel had a negative impact on the development of the Palestinian economy, investment and hence employment. Witnesses reported to the Special Committee that the Israeli authorities continue to impede the movement of trucks carrying Palestinian goods and products despite the fact that those items meet all Israeli established standards. As a result part of the products were lost owing to the long period spent at checkpoints. For example, in April 1999, the Israeli authorities prevented 100 trucks, carrying fruits, vegetables and flowers, from using the Erez checkpoint. As a result, most of the items were damaged. On 24 May, Israeli authorities stopped three trucks at the Erez checkpoint, carrying 5,000 chickens owned by Palestinians who were trying to take them to Hebron. Because of the heat, most of the chickens died while trucks were waiting at the checkpoint.

97. Driven by the need to earn a decent income or even to find a job, a large number of workers in the territories have turned to the Israeli labour market; however, witnesses stated that the situation of the Arab workers of the occupied territories had not improved. They recalled that Palestinian workers continue to be humiliated at the Israeli checkpoints, where they are forced to leave their bus and subjected to searches. On some occasions, workers have also been arrested from checkpoints. Reference was also made to the working conditions of Palestinian workers employed in Israel; in particular, their long workdays resulting, inter alia, from the time spent at the checkpoint leading in from Gaza.

98. Working conditions in the settlements were also described as very complicated because of the lack of clarity of the legislation applicable to the settlements, which were still being established and extended. According to witnesses, Palestinians working in the settlements do not enjoy any protection and benefits such as health insurance or pension funds.

(a) The case of Palestinian fishermen

99. The Special Committee was informed about the situation of fishermen in Gaza. It was reported that between 2,500 and 2,600 fishermen, who supporting economically no less than 18,000 other individuals/ family members, are allowed to fish only within a perimeter of 20 nautical miles out to the sea. The area within this perimeter, which was agreed upon in the Declaration of Principles between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, is also used for recreation and other economic activities.

100. Palestinian fishermen are facing serious restrictions on the way they conduct their daily work. Israeli authorities have imposed a system of permits and have determined the hours and dates for fishing as well as the hours for sailing. Palestinian fishermen are not allowed to sell their products in the West Bank or in Israel, while this option is open to the settlers who engage in fishing. The latter may market all of their catch anywhere they choose.

101. Israeli settlers in the Gaza Strip, in possession of Israeli fishing permits, also have the right to fish in that limited area referred to above (para. 99). They are given ample latitude to engage in natural fishing but also to utilize the most advanced and sophisticated fishing techniques, whereas the Palestinians do not enjoy those same rights. This has exacerbated the already serious competition between Palestinian fishermen. Moreover, the Special Committee was told that sometimes the area of the sea in which they are allowed to fish is totally closed to them by the Israeli navy.

(b) The case of Palestinian journalists

102. The Israelis have been hampering the work of journalists by limiting their freedom of movement or preventing them from disseminating information inside or outside the occupied territories. The number of closures of areas to journalists by order of the Israeli military from 1994 to 1999 was around 2,100. After the conclusion of the Declaration of Principles between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the number of closures increased by 230 per cent. Such was also the case with attacks against journalists. From 1993 to 1999 there were 1,617 instances of aggression against journalists. In other cases, newspaper offices were also closed and the equipment confiscated or destroyed. Many of the journalists have been arrested.

7. Education

103. A witness working in the field of education provided the Special Committee with detailed testimony, corroborated by pictures, on the conditions under which Palestinian girls and boys are undertaking their studies in East Jerusalem. There are three kinds of schools in East Jerusalem. The first and largest in number is the type administered and supervised by Israel, either by the Israeli Ministry of Education or by the Israeli municipality. The second kind is private schools. The third kind is those administered by the Islamic waqf, or religious trust foundations.

104. For the academic year 1999, there were a total of 47,360 boys and girls in all East Jerusalem schools. Of those, 27,815 were in schools under Israeli administration, either of the municipality or of the Ministry of Education. This figure constitutes 58.8 per cent of the total number of students. The total number of children in East Jerusalem under the age of five years, who are just about to start primary school, is about 62,000.

105. One of the problems the pupils are facing in public schools is the inadequacy of the premises and the shortage of classrooms to accommodate the number of pupils. Some public schools are located in residential buildings, sharing the premises with families living in those buildings. Owing to lack of space, classrooms are also located on verandas, which are very cold in winter and very hot in summer. As many as four students share a common desk in the classroom. A total of 33 boys may share eight or nine desks in a room measuring approximately 3 x 4 metres. The situation is similar in another girl’s school called Al-Essawiyeh, in an East Jerusalem neighbourhood. The school consists of four buildings, which are also used by its regular residents. A bomb shelter, without ventilation, is used as a classroom. In the classrooms, pupils must crawl over the tables in order to move to the blackboard, owing to lack of space between the desks. It is also impossible to open some of the windows of the classroom because of the lack of space. Bathrooms in both schools visited have broken doors and windows. Outside one classroom, there is a narrow passageway filled with trash in which rats and cockroaches live and breed. High schools in East Jerusalem, such as Rachidia Boys’ High School, do not provide optional studies such as a technical or vocational curriculum. As far as facilities in Rachidia are concerned, the library has a pleasant atmosphere but consists only of two walls of shelves that are not even as high as the ceiling. The computer lab consists of 16 outdated computers, one computer for every 75 students. Of course, there is no Internet access.

106. Poor hygienic conditions led in 1999 to the death of one pupil from meningitis at a government school in East Jerusalem. The Special Committee was told that the father of the dead child explained that his son initially had a fever but was refused admission to two Israeli, Hadassah hospitals on grounds that there was no room in the emergency units. He was therefore taken to Makassed Hospital, an Arab hospital in East Jerusalem, but it was too late to save his life.

107. Witnesses continued to report that the Ministry of the Interior in East Jerusalem continues to restrict the registration of newborn children and the issuance to them of new Jerusalem identification cards. As a result, up to 23.6 per cent of children are unable to register at government schools in East Jerusalem. This is often the case for many Arab families whose rights to live in the city of Jerusalem have been cancelled through the confiscation of their identification cards.


B. Situation of human rights in the occupied Syrian Arab Golan


1. Background

108. As has been observed in previous reports of the Special Committee, the Golan has been occupied since 1967. On 14 December 1981, Israel decided to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Golan; this was in effect an annexation of the territory.

109. On 17 December 1981, in its resolution 497 (1981), the Security Council considered the annexation null and void.

110. In its resolution 53/57 of 3 December 1998, the General Assembly decided that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken or to be taken by Israel, the occupying Power, that purported to alter the character and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan were null and void, constituted a flagrant violation of international law and of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and had no legal effect. The annexation also has not been accepted or recognized by the Arab population of the Golan.

111. Thus the annexation has never been recognized by the United Nations.

2. Consequences of the occupation

112. As the occupation of the Golan has extended over a long period of time, the consequences of the occupation, in terms of its effects on the occupied Golan and its population, have been extensive, affecting all aspects of life and families, villages and communities.

113. Syrian government officials with whom the Committee met emphasized that the occupation itself was one of the most serious forms of human rights violations and that for the violations to end the occupation itself had to be terminated. They stated that the situation of human rights had not improved in the course of the reporting period. One official described the Syrian Arab people in the occupied Golan as hostages of the occupying authorities.

114. The Special Committee was informed that not only did the occupation involve daily suffering of the population living under occupation, but their identity and culture were also at stake. The Committee was told that information about the situation in the occupied Syrian Golan had been obtained principally by telephone, through conversations over the megaphone and on the occasion of meetings in Jordan of family members living on different sides of the demarcation line.

115. The Special Committee was informed that there had been no change in Israeli policy regarding the occupied Golan, that the number of settlers had increased and that existing settlements had been expanded during the period under review. No new settlements had been established, however.

116. Relations between the settlers and the Arab population of the occupied Golan were tense and often of a violent nature, in particular where there were settlements located close to Syrian villages. The attention of the Special Committee was drawn to the fact that all settlers were armed, while the Arab inhabitants of the occupied Golan were not allowed to carry weapons, and that, for example, the settlers shot at cattle if they grazed close to settlements.

117. There were numerous instances in which the attention of the Special Committee was drawn to the widespread nature of the consequences of the occupation: the intention of the Israeli authorities to increase significantly the number of settlers, persistent Judaization of life in the occupied Golan and falsification of history at the expense of the Arab population.

118. There were also widespread economic consequences of the occupation. The economic constraints exercised by the Israelis over the occupied Golan were also shown, the Committee was informed, in the lack of equal employment opportunities, heavy taxes, fixed low prices imposed on apples, the main agricultural produce, arbitrary arrest and detention and inadequate health care. Deterioration of the environment caused by the Israeli authorities has resulted from the uprooting of trees, burning of forests, chemical residue from Israeli factories and waste from settlements.

119. Settlements compete with Syrians in economic terms in the area of agriculture, the principal activity of the Arab population of the occupied Golan. The competition is rendered more uneven by the restricted access of the Syrian inhabitants to water compared with the settlers. A Syrian farmer has to pay $1,500 to irrigate 1 dunum, which is often in excess of what his crop would yield. The cost of pesticides for Syrian farmers also often surpasses the financial yield of their crops.

120. The economic situation of Syrians in the occupied Golan is compounded by the lack of job opportunities. Many qualified Arabs from the occupied Golan are employed in menial jobs and are sometimes dismissed arbitrarily by their Israeli employers. Many workers are never paid or are not paid in full.


3. The particular problem of long-separated families

121. One of the principal negative impacts of the occupation of the occupied Syrian Golan has been the separation of families who live on either side of the valley constituting the demarcation line. One witness said that he had not seen his family since 1967. The Special Committee spent almost an hour at a point opposite the village of Majdal Shams, in the occupied Syrian Golan, a point from where exchanges through megaphones between long-separated family members and other relatives regularly take place. The Special Committee was told that the communication was very inadequate because even through a megaphone it was faint and far from satisfactory. Telephone connections existed but were costly. Syrians from the occupied Golan could call the Syrian Arab Republic but the opposite was not possible.

122. The Committee was told about emotional exchanges of this type between close family members in the past that have on occasion resulted in the death of an elderly parent. The separation of families is particularly painful in the event of a death of a relative.

123. Witnesses also complained that Syrian detainees from the Golan were detained at a considerable distance from their place of residence, which made family visits difficult. However, a recent positive development is the issuance by the Israeli authorities of permits to travel to Jordan for five days where Syrians from the occupied Golan can meet their family and relatives living in the Syrian Arab Republic. Permits are issued for Jordan only.


C. Official communications received by the Special Committee

124. The Special Committee was provided with extensive documentation by the Governments of Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic reflecting the views of those Governments on the situation in the occupied territories. In order to provide insight into what the reports contained, the Special Committee reproduces below the full documents as received from the Government of Jordan and the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic.


1. Jordan

125. During its visit to Amman, the Special Committee received a report from the Department of Palestinian Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Jordan. The English translation of the full document as received in Arabic is reproduced below:


2. Syrian Arab Republic

126. During its visit to Damascus, the Special Committee received from Klovis Khoury, Director of the International Organizations Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic, the report entitled “Report of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic on Israeli practices affecting the human rights of Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Arab Golan”. The Special Committee reproduces below the English translation of the report, as presented in Arabic, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:




D. Conclusions


127. The Special Committee takes cognizance of the position enunciated in the sixth preambular paragraph of General Assembly resolution 54/76 and in earlier resolutions of the Assembly that occupation itself represents a gross human rights violation.

128. The Special Committee believes that the observations made in September 1999 in paragraphs 251 to 265 of its report (A/54/325) continue to be valid, and reaffirms those observations once again, in paragraphs 129 to 144 below, based on and reinforced by additional information obtained by the Special Committee during its visit to the region.

129. The Israeli authorities have put in place a comprehensive and elaborate system of laws and regulations and administrative measures that affect all aspects of the lives of the Palestinian and Syrian peoples in the occupied territories. The laws and regulations are so framed that they vest in officials a considerable degree of authority and latitude over the lives of the people of the occupied territories.

130. These laws and regulations are designed to enhance the exercise of its control over the occupied territories and their population.

131. There exists an all-encompassing sense of great tension in the occupied territories, in particular during periods of crisis, and the rigorous implementation of laws and regulations and administrative measures creates a sense of fear and despondency among the inhabitants of the territories.

132. Moreover, during periods of violence, such exercise of control makes the lives of the Palestinian and Syrian peoples in the occupied territories even more unbearable.

133. Bitterness at their treatment by the authorities and the sense of dispossession, hopelessness and despair of the people of the occupied territories caused to a large extent, it seems to the Special Committee, by lack of progress in the peace process and a lack of tangible benefits for the people of the occupied territories, make the situation in those territories one of the greatest urgency.

134. The Special Committee thus welcomes the recent resumption of dialogue in the peace process.

135. While the Special Committee reiterates its regrets at the lack of cooperation from the Israeli authorities which resulted, inter alia, in its inability to visit the occupied territories, it was very pleased to receive before it a number of Israeli nationals, working in the field of human rights, who appeared before the Committee to speak about their own work with Palestinians. These instances have been referred to in the report.

136. The Special Committee noted in particular references made to what seem to be some occasions on which there were meetings between Palestinians and Israelis of the younger generation, showing what appears to be an increasing willingness to meet and communicate with one another.

137. However, the depressing contrast remains in the apparent absence among the government authorities of Israel of a sensitivity to circumstances in the occupied territories, which are not in accord with internationally accepted standards of human rights and humanitarian values.

138. As regards the general conditions of the Palestinians, the sense of alienation, exclusion and separation from their homeland experienced by them remains a matter of deep anxiety and concern.

139. The Special Committee also reaffirms the observations and recommendations made in the concluding paragraphs of its previous reports. These recommendations are set out below:

142. The Special Committee also believes that it is important for its members to have access to the occupied territories in order to witness for itself the actual situation obtaining there with respect to the issue of human rights as well as to ascertain the views of the Government of Israel pertaining to the subject.

143. Among the witnesses appearing before the Special Committee there was a sense of hopelessness, frustration and anger directed not only against the Occupying Power, but also against the international community, including the Special Committee itself, in connection with its inability to provide relief to the hardship experienced by the people of the occupied territories.

144. A number of persons appearing before the Special Committee spoke of the continuing violations of their human rights, for which no relief appeared to be provided. While discussions of the peace process were very desirable, it was imperative that human rights in the occupied territories should be given immediate attention and there was a feeling that this was not being done and that was the cause of great frustration.


Notes



Annex

Documents and other material before the Special Committee


1. Monthly summaries of news relative to its mandate appearing in the Israeli press (Ha’aretz and the Jerusalem Post (August 1999 to April 2000)).

2. Records of testimony received from 25 witnesses during its field mission to Egypt, Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic.

3. Official documents submitted to the Special Committee by:

(b) Government of the Syrian Arab Republic (in Arabic).

4. Written documents submitted to the Special Committee by witnesses, including photographs:

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