On Monday, 17 June 2019, Al-Haq briefed the United Nations (UN) Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories on the current human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) in Amman, Jordan. The Special Committee was established in 1968 by the UN General Assembly and is mandated to monitor and investigate Israel’s human rights violations in the OPT until such time as Israel’s prolonged 52-year occupation of the Palestinian territory is brought to an end.
During the briefing session, Al-Haq provided the Special Committee with updates on the current human rights situation in the OPT, including on facts and figures of Israeli violations in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem after 71 years of ongoing Nakba, 52 years of brutal military occupation, and 12 years of unlawful closure of the Gaza Strip, amounting to collective punishment in violation of international law. Notably, Al-Haq highlighted the deterioration of the general human rights situation in the OPT and called on the Special Committee to emphasize third States' responsibilities under international humanitarian law to repect and ensure respect for the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) at all times. In particular, Al-Haq highlighted the obligation of third States towards ending Israel's unlawful closure of the Gaza Strip, and ensuring the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including permanent sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources, and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and property, as mandated by international law.
Addressing the situation in the occupied West Bank, Al-Haq highlighted Israel's escalation of forcible transfer measures against Palestinians, including as a result of administrative demolitions of Palestinians' homes and property and Israel's de facto annexation of Area C of the West Bank, especially the resource-rich Jordan Valley, and underlined current attempts by Israel and the United States to annex de jure illegal Israeli settlements in the OPT. In addition, Al-Haq briefed the Special Committee on Israel's various measures of collective punishment, in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), which includes punitive house demolitions, the deliberate targeting of Palestinian civilians with excessive use of force, the punitive withholding of the bodies of Palestinians killed by the Israeli occupying forces, the punitive withholding of taxes, and various movement restrictions and closures across the OPT.
Al-Haq further briefed the Special Committee on the ongoing Great Return March demonstrations in the occupied Gaza Strip, and the lack of political will to end Israel's unlawful closure of Gaza, and to implement without further delay the recommendations of the UN Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 OPT Protests, as adopted by the Human Rights Council on 22 March 2019. Notably, Al-Haq recalled the root causes of the Great Return March, which remain unaddressed and stressed that only through genuine accountability for widespread and systematic human rights abuses and the realisation of Palestinians' inalienable rights, can Israel's unlawful policies and practices in the OPT be brought to an end. This includes the need to uphold the responsibility of businesses for corporate complicity in aiding and abetting the commission of grave breaches of international law in the OPT and bringing to an end Israel's prolonged occupation of the Palestinian territory.