On 2 March 2020, six Palestinian and regional human rights organisations submitted a joint urgent appeal to the United Nations (UN) Special Procedures on the abuse of Palestinian citizen, Muhammad Al-Na’em, by an Israeli bulldozer and the injury of Palestinians by the Israeli occupying forces in the Gaza Strip on the morning of Sunday, 23 February 2020. In the incident, Muhammad Al-Na’em, 27, a resident of Khan Younis camp, was abused by an Israeli bulldozer, as recorded in a graphic video widely circulated online, while two Palestinian civilians, Muhammad Al-Najjar, 19, and Mu’taz Al-Najjar, 21, were shot and injured with live ammunition while attempting to evacuate the wounded, requiring surgery and hospitalisation. Muhammad Al-Na’em’s body has since been withheld by the Israeli occupying authorities, as unlawful collective punishment, in violation of the victim’s family to bury their next of kin in accordance with their religion, customs, and beliefs.
Addressing the appeal to the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, Mr Michael Lynk, in addition to five thematic mandates, in particular the rapporteurs on torture, extrajudicial executions, and health, the human rights groups, comprising Al-Haq, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), Al Mezan,the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC), BADIL, and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), urged the Special Procedures to publicly condemn the conduct of the Israeli occupying forces as constituting violations of international human rights, humanitarian law, and criminal law, and to call for justice, accountability, and reparations for Palestinian victims.
Notably, the organisations argued that Israel, the occupying power, is in violation of the victims’ rights to life, health, and freedom from torture or other ill-treatment. Critically, the organisations held that the abuse of Muhammad Al-Na’em’s body further constitutes outrages upon personal dignity, amounting to a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Accordingly, the organisations urged the UN Special Procedures to:
- Publicly condemn the conduct of the Israeli occupying forces on 23 February 2020 in Gaza, in particular the abuse of Muhammad Al-Na’em by an Israeli bulldozer and the unlawful targeting and injury of Palestinian civilians, Muhammad Al-Najjar and Mu’taz Al-Najjar, while attempting to evacuate the wounded;
- Call on Israel, the occupying power, to return, without delay, the bodies of Muhammad Al-Na’em and all other deceased Palestinians to their families for a dignified burial, and recognise the practice of withholding Palestinians’ bodies as amounting to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of the victims’ next of kin;
- Call for the implementation of the recommendations of the UN Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 protests in the occupied Palestinian territory, in particular the Commission’s call on Israel to revise its rules of engagement for the use of live fire, to fulfil the right to health of Palestinians, including injured protesters from the Great Return March, and to lift the blockade on Gaza with immediate effect; and
- Call for international justice and accountability for widespread and systematic human rights violations committed against the Palestinian people, including suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity, by urging third States to activate universal jurisdiction mechanisms and to impose individual sanctions on suspected perpetrators, and supporting the opening, without delay, of an investigation by the International Criminal Court into the situation in Palestine.
Read the joint urgent appeal sent on 2 March 2020 to the UN Special Procedures here.
 See video published on Sunday, 23 February 2020, at 8:35 am by Al Hadath on Facebook, available at: https://www.facebook.com/alhadathnews/videos/859473881164873/.