On 15 September 2023, Al-Haq delivered a joint oral intervention under Item 3 during the 54th session of the Human Rights Council.1 Delivered during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, the oral intervention welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s report, which highlighted Israel’s 16-year-long closure of the Gaza Strip and its devastating impact on the right to healthcare for Palestinians. Nonetheless, the intervention emphasised the need to analyse Israel’s coercive measures within the broader context of settler-colonial and apartheid regime. To this end, the intervention called for effective measures to end Israel’s discriminatory policies, including restrictions on Palestinian healthcare access inside and outside Gaza.
The full statement reads as follows:
Esteemed Special Rapporteur,
We welcome your report and its coverage of Israel’s abuses perpetrated against protected Palestinians. We address you today with great concern regarding Israel’s 16-year-long closure of the Gaza Strip, which demands our unwavering attention.
Access to healthcare is not a privilege but a fundamental human right. As the occupying power, Israel is responsible for the health and welfare of Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory. Yet, Israel’s closure of the Gaza Strip has resulted in the fragmentation and de-development of Gaza’s healthcare system, driving it to the brink of collapse. Essential medicines, supplies, and equipment are unavailable. Many Palestinian patients need to be referred to more advanced facilities outside Gaza to access healthcare. Leaving Gaza, even when seeking lifesaving treatment, is dependent on a discriminatory permit regime imposed by the Israeli occupying authorities.
These violations must be addressed within their context: Israel’s coercive measures against Palestinians do not occur in a vacuum but are part and parcel of its settler-colonialism and apartheid imposed on the Palestinian people.
Accordingly, we call on the international community as a whole, including UN mandate holders, to recognise Israel’s settler colonialism and apartheid, and adopt effective measures to end Israel’s discriminatory policies against Palestinians, including restrictions on Palestinian patients’ access to healthcare inside and outside Gaza.
This statement was delivered on behalf of a group of Palestinian and regional human rights organisations: Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem (CCPRJ), Defense for Children Palestine, Human Rights and Democracy Media Centers SHAMS, Law for Palestine, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy – MIFTAH, and The Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC)