Earlier today, Al-Haq delivered a joint oral intervention on Gaza at the 42ndRegular Session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council in Geneva. The joint statement was delivered on behalf of a group of Palestinian and regional human rights organisations, including Al-Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, and Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS).
Delivered during the general debate on item 2 of the Human Rights Council’s agenda, the statement addressed the update delivered on Monday, 9 September 2019, by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Michelle Bachelet, on the human rights situation in the Gaza Strip and her office’s follow up on the recommendations of the UN Commission of Inquiry on the Great Return March, as mandated by UN Human Rights Council Resolution 40/13, adopted on 22 March 2019.
In the joint statement delivered by Al-Haq today, the organisations highlighted their serious concerns as to the ongoing deterioration in the situation in the Gaza Strip as a result of 12 years of prolonged closure and blockade by Israel, the Occupying Power. The organisations further regretted, that while the closure has made Gaza uninhabitable and amounts to unlawful collective punishment, it remained absent from the High Commissioner’s update to the Council at the opening of the session, despite constituting a root cause of the Great Return March demonstrations.
The organisations stressed that the Palestinian people in Gaza, including Palestinian children, have continued to exercise their right of peaceful assembly since 30 March last year, as enshrined under international law, protesting Israel’s unlawful closure and calling for the realisation of their inalienable rights, including the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and property.
In addition, the groups stressed that Gaza has become unliveable due to Israel’s 12-year closure, which has led to profound and unparalleled levels of aid-dependency, food insecurity, poverty, unemployment, widespread psychological trauma and desperation, with Gaza’s hospitals facing shortages in medicines and struggling to treat the thousands of injuries from the ongoing Great Return March demonstrations.
Stressing that the UN Commission of Inquiry called on Israel, the Occupying Power, to immediately lift its prolonged closure and blockade of the Gaza Strip, the human rights organisations urged the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to set a clear time frame for the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations. Ultimately, the groups urged UN Member States to pursue international justice and accountability and to call for the opening of an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) into the situation in Palestine.
To read the statement delivered by Al-Haq, Al Mezan, PCHR, BADIL, and CIHRS under item 2 of the UN Human Rights Council on 11 September 2019, see here.