REGULAR PRESS BRIEFING BY THE INFORMATION SERVICE
10 June 2016
Ahmad Fawzi, United Nations Information Service in Geneva, chaired the briefing attended by spokespersons for the United Nations Refugee Agency, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the International Labour Organization, the World Trade Organization and the Human Rights Council.
Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories
Ravina Shamdasani, for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), stated that the High Commissioner condemned the gun attack in Tel Aviv on 8 June, in which four Israelis had been killed and a number injured. That was the largest loss of Israeli life in a single attack since the current surge of violence.
OHCHR was also deeply concerned at the response of the Israeli authorities, which included measures that might amount to prohibited collective punishment and would only increase the sense of injustice and frustration felt by Palestinians in this very tense time. The response had included the cancelling of all 83,000 permits granted to West Bank and Gaza residents to travel during Ramadan, the suspension of 204 work permits of individuals in the alleged attackers' extended families, and the sealing off of their entire home town by the Israeli security forces.
Ms. Shamdasani stressed that Israel had a human rights obligation to bring those responsible to account for their crimes, which it was doing. However, the measures taken against the broader population punished not the perpetrators of the crime, but tens, and maybe even hundreds, of thousands of innocent Palestinians.
Responding to a question, Ms. Shamdasani said that “collective punishment” was a legal term in international law, but whether it was being exercised would need to be established by a court. OHCHR was not making a legal qualification here. Ms. Shamdasani would provide the exact source in international humanitarian law which defined collective punishment.