On 11 September 2019, Al-Haq and partners delivered a joint oral intervention on Gaza at the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council at its current 42nd regular session, highlighting the serious and ongoing deterioration in the Gaza Strip as a result of Israel’s 12-year closure, which has made Gaza uninhabitable, according to UN reports. 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, Al-Haq and partners 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. Ahead of the 42nd regular session, Al-Haq submitted two written submissions to the UN Human Rights Council on Gaza and Jerusalem.
1. Al-Haq Written Submission on Gaza
On 22 August 2019, Al-Haq sent a written submission to the UN Human Rights Council ahead of its current 42nd regular session, calling on the Council to ensure the implementation of the recommendations of the UN Commission of Inquiry on the Great Return March. In the submission, which was distributed and published by the UN on 4 September 2019, Al-Haq highlighted Israel’s continued excessive use of force, including lethal force, to suppress the Great Return March in the occupied Gaza Strip. The submission further examined Israel’s latest deadly military incursion into the Gaza Strip, which led to the killing of 25 Palestinians between 3 and 5 May 2019. In addition, the submission highlighted Israel’s active de-development of the Gaza Strip and the creation of a coercive environment driving Palestinian transfer from Gaza, stressing that the Gaza Strip has become uninhabitable as a result of Israel’s prolonged closure. Finally, the submission stressed the urgent need for justice and accountability, making the following calls to Member States of the UN Human Rights Council:
- Address the root causes of the Great Return March by creating an effective mechanism for the implementation, without delay, of the Commission of Inquiry’s recommendations, including by setting a clear time frame towards bringing the Gaza closure to an end, with immediate effect;
- Condemn Israel’s continued excessive use of force and lethal force against protected Palestinians, in particular during the ongoing Great Return March demonstrations, and ensure that Israel aligns its rules of engagement for the use of live fire with international human rights law throughout the occupied Palestinian territory;
- Call on third States to cooperate to end Israel’s widespread and systematic violations, including by imposing individual sanctions and travel bans on perpetrators of grave breaches of international law committed in the occupied Palestinian territory;
- Urge the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to refer the dossier on alleged perpetrators prepared by the Commission of Inquiry to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and ensure transparency in the referral process;
- Call on the ICC to open an investigation into the situation in Palestine, without delay, to ensure accountability for suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the occupied Palestinian territory; and
- Call on third States to activate universal jurisdiction mechanisms to hold to account perpetrators of suspected international crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in the occupied Gaza Strip since 30 March 2018, as recommended by the Commission of Inquiry.
To read Al-Haq’s written submission on Gaza to the 42nd regular session of the UN Human Rights Council, click here .
2. Joint Written Submission on Jerusalem
Also on 22 August, Al-Haq and partners sent a written submission on Jerusalem to the UN Human Rights Council. The joint submission, made on behalf of Al-Haq, BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem, Community Action Center (Al-Quds University), and Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC), was titled “Increase in house demolitions and forcible transfer in Jerusalem.” In the submission, the six organisations highlighted Israel’s forcible transfer of Palestinians in Jerusalem and demographic manipulation of the city’s population, in violation of international law. In addition, the submission looks at Israel’s discriminatory planning and zoning regime in Jerusalem, Israel’s unlawful house demolition practice, and the continued construction of the Annexation Wall in and around the city, resulting in the displacement of Palestinians and their transfer from the city.
Overall, the organisations stressed that Israel’s forcible transfer of Palestinians from Jerusalem must be seen as part of a widespread and systematic alteration of the character of Jerusalem through demographic manipulation and the erasure of Palestinian presence from the city, giving rise to individual criminal responsibility at the ICC. Accordingly, the groups called on the UN Human Rights Council to:
- Ensure the protection of the protected Palestinian population in East Jerusalem, and the occupied Palestinian territory at large, from the imminent risk of forcible transfer, through house demolitions, forced evictions, and land appropriation;
- Condemn the measures taken by Israel, the Occupying Power, to alter the legal status, character, and demographic composition of Jerusalem, and not recognise any such changes as lawful;
- Adopt effective measures and a timeline for the enforcement of the obligations contained in the conclusions of the International Court of Justice’s 2004 Advisory Opinion on the Annexation Wall, and ensure Israel, the Occupying Power, ceases all works on and dismantles the Annexation Wall; and
- Hold perpetrators accountable for widespread and systematic human rights violations committed against the protected Palestinian population by referring information on suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the occupied Palestinian territory to the ICC, and urging the Office of the Prosecutor to open, without delay, an investigation into the situation in Palestine since 13 June 2014.
To read the joint written submission on Jerusalem by Al-Haq, BADIL, CIHRS, Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem, Community Action Center (Al-Quds University), and JLAC to the 42nd regular session of the UN Human Rights Council, click here .