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Al-Haq and Partners Send Four Written Submissions Prior to the 55th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council
24، Feb 2024

Al-Haq, jointly with partners, submitted four written submissions ahead of the upcoming 55th regular session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (the Council), which will be held between 26 February and 5 April 2024. Addressing the Council under different agenda items, the four submissions underlined Israel’s ongoing genocide and the escalation of Israeli military attacks in the West Bank, especially on refugee camps; the importance of annually updating the UN database of businesses operating within Israel’s colonial settlement enterprise; the worrying escalation in arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, and torture of Palestinians; and Israel’s targeting of Palestinian memory, identity and cultural heritage.


Overall, the written submissions urged the Council and its Member States to uphold their legal obligations to prevent, end, and refrain from aiding or assisting the ongoing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, and urgently urge Israel to immediately and unconditionally allow the unimpeded access of fuel, water, food and humanitarian aid, including medical supplies, into the Gaza Strip, as mandated by the International Court of Justice’s provisional measures order. Furthermore, the submissions called for international justice and accountability for Israel’s international crimes, including by recognising and taking effective measures to dismantle Israel’s settler-colonial and apartheid regime imposed over the Palestinian people as a whole; supporting and enabling the exercise of the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people and the return of Palestinian refugees to their ancestral land and homes; and reconstituting the UN Special Committee against Apartheid and the UN Centre against Apartheid.

  1. Written Submission Titled “Israel’s Escalating Military Attacks in the West Bank”

Submitted under Item 7 on 29 January 2024, this written submission underscored Israel’s – simultaneously with its ongoing genocide in Gaza – escalated oppression of Palestinians elsewhere in historic Palestine, including the systematic use of excessive and lethal force, and violent military raids and attacks in the West Bank, including eastern Jerusalem. Particularly focused in crowded refugee camps in the northern part of the West Bank, Israel’s military raids and attacks are characterised by the overwhelming deployment of military force, including snipers; an array of vehicles, notably D9 bulldozers; and recourse to airstrikes. This disturbing escalation of military attacks resulted in the killing and injuring of Palestinians, the destruction of Palestinian homes, properties, and infrastructure, the withholding of Palestinian bodies, and obstruction of all aspects of life, including healthcare. As an example, the submission detailed the 60-hour uninterrupted attack on Jenin, including its Refugee Camp in December 2023, which included the use of aerial attacks, leading to the killing of 12 Palestinians, including four children, the arrest of at least 300 others, and the destruction of homes and infrastructure.


The submission further addressed Al-Haq’s documentation of the routine blocking of ambulances by the IOF during recent military attacks, including those on Jenin. This tactic involves stopping ambulances, checking the identities of transported injured, killed, or sick Palestinians, and impeding the work and access of ambulance teams. In addition to hindering and obstructing the work and access of healthcare personnel, the submission noted Al-Haq’s documentation of the use of a Palestinian paramedic as a human shield during a six-hour-long military raid on Tulkarem city, including Tulkarem and Nour Shams refugee camps; exemplifying the IOF’s disregard for medical personnel rights and protection.


While all Palestinians across historic Palestine continue to endure Israeli repression, the submission took note of the disturbing targeting of Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank, underscoring the acute failure of the international community to uphold and ensure the realisation of the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including their right to return; as the continuous and systematic killing of Palestinians, including the ongoing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, stands as a direct consequence of the entrenched climate of impunity afforded by the international community to Israel.


As such, the submission urged Member States of the Council to recognise Israel’s systematic shoot-to-kill policy as contributing to the maintenance of Israel’s settler-colonialism and apartheid regime; to refrain from rendering aid or assistance towards the maintenance of Israel’s illegal occupation, and cooperate to bring it to an end, including through sanctions and arms embargoes; and to urge Israel to cease its policies and practices involving arbitrary arrests, torture and ill-treatment, hindrance and obstruction of medical access, use of human shields, and the withholding of the bodies of killed Palestinians.


Read the full written submission here.


  1. Written Submission Titled “The UN Database on Businesses: A Needed Tool to Address Israel’s Systematic, Colonial Violence”

Submitted under Item 2 on 5 February 2024, this submission addressed the importance of the annual updating of the UN database of businesses involved in Israel’s colonial settlement enterprise. Critically, at a time when Third States, namely the United States and some European states, fail to address, and instead continue to be complicit in, the ongoing genocide in Gaza, they have imposed sanctions targeting specific Israeli settlers deemed ‘extremist’ or ‘violent’ – an approach that sidesteps the broader issue of Israel’s colonial settlement enterprise. The submission underscored that Third States must focus on dismantling structures sustaining Israel’s colonial settlement enterprise, which is rooted in Zionist settler-colonialism and apartheid.

Israeli settler violence has surged since 7 October 2023, with nearly 500 recorded attacks, leading to killing, injuries, and property damage. At least nine Palestinians, including at least one child, were killed by settlers between 7 October 2023 and 4 February 2024, according to Al-Haq’s documentation. Settler violence has forcibly displaced 198 Palestinian households, totalling 1,208 individuals, including 586 children. Beyond physical harm, the submission noted that the “Colonialism, in essence, represents a pervasive form of violence systematically inflicted upon the colonised people. As such, the mere presence of Israeli settlers on indigenous Palestinian land is violent”, as it fundamentally undermines the right to self-determination for the colonised Palestinian people.


The submission further acknowledged the shortcomings of the recently released UN Database, including its lack of comprehensive identification of new businesses engaged in reportable activity – risking exploitation by those seeking to evade listing. Proper implementation of the Database can guide companies in enhanced human rights due diligence, promoting accountability, transparency, and adherence to international law, including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

To this end, the submission urged Member States of the Council to take effective measures, including by adequate funding, to ensure the annual and comprehensive update of the UN database by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; uphold their obligations to cease corporate complicity in the violations of human rights through effective actions aimed at severing of all business relations with actors operating in illegal Israeli settlements; and recognise and acknowledge Israel’s settler-colonialism and apartheid as the root cause enabling corporate actors to profit off the subjugation of the Palestinian people, and the continuation of settler violence with impunity.


Read the full written submission here.

  1. Written Submission Titled “Intensification of Israel’s Mass Arrests, Enforced Disappearances, Administrative Detentions, and Torture Since October 2023”

Submitted on 5 February 2024, under Item 3, this written submission addressed the increase, since 7 October 2023, of the IOF’s campaign of arbitrary arrests and detention, accompanied by intensified brutality of arrests, dire prison conditions, and practices of ill-treatment and torture, including sexual violence, as a continuation of Israel’s long-established policy of collective punishment used to intimidate and repress Palestinians.

Since 7 October 2023, the IOF has detained over 6,500 Palestinians in the West Bank, including Jerusalem. As of the time of writing, over 9,000 Palestinians, including 400 children and 215 women, are held in Israeli prisons, with 3,400 under administrative detention. Disturbingly, 80% of arrests following 7 October 2023 resulted in administrative detention. Moreover, thousands of Palestinian residents of Gaza, including workers, patients, and their companions inside the Green Line or Palestinians detained from inside Gaza since the start of the ground invasion have been detained by the IOF. Released individuals have reported harsh torture, inhumane treatment, and confiscation of money and personal items by the IOF. Currently, hundreds remain in Israeli prisons, with no information about their well-being or whereabouts, constituting enforced disappearance.


Since 7 October 2023, changes by the Israel Prison Service (IPS) worsened conditions for Palestinian prisoners. Confiscation of belongings, removal of window glass, overcrowded cells, and unsanitary environments, coupled with almost daily raids by the special force within Israeli prisons, known as ‘Keter’, with weapons and iron rods, and accompanied by muzzled dogs with long claws that attack and harm prisoners and detainees, characterise the situation. The IPS further reduced meals from three to two, of poor quality, whereas medical care is neglected, preventing sick prisoners and detainees from visiting the clinic, while many are denied essential medications.


In the wake of the torture and violations perpetrated, the Israeli occupying authorities announced the ‘death’ of seven Palestinian detainees and prisoners. As this is what has only been publicly disclosed, the submission noted the concern that the actual number of ‘dead’ prisoners or detainees may be higher, as Israel is allowed to torture Palestinians, while the International Committee of the Red Cross “has not been able to visit any Palestinian detainees held in Israeli places of detention since 7 October 2023”.

In light of the above, the submission urged Member States of the Council to recognise that Israel’s systematic arrest campaigns and torture, which are carried out as a form of collective punishment against the Palestinian population, contribute to the maintenance of Israel’s settler-colonialism and apartheid regime; take effective measures to ensure that Israel halts its intimidation tactics against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line, releases all Palestinian political prisoners, and ends its widespread and systematic use of arbitrary detention, including administrative detention, and the commission of torture and other ill-treatment against Palestinian detainees and prisoners; urge Israel to repeal its ‘Unlawful Combatants Law’ enacted in 2002; and demand Israel to disclose the names, locations, and details of detention of Palestinians from Gaza, ensure their rights are respected, including their right to legal representation, and refrain from ill-treatment and torture against them.


Read the full written submission here.


  1. Written Submission Titled “Cultural Genocide: Israel’s Attacks on Palestinian Heritage, Memory, and Identity”

Submitted under Item 7 on 12 February 2024, this submission underlined that Israel’s relentless and systematic efforts to eradicate Palestinian presence extend beyond physical dispossession to a calculated assault on collective memory, including through the deliberate destruction of Palestinian heritage sites and monuments. These relentless efforts are supported by Israel’s apartheid and stem from Zionist settler-colonialism, premised on the expulsion, dispossession, and replacement of the indigenous Palestinian people from the land. The submission demanded Third States to confront the root causes of this injustice, addressing Israel’s settler-colonialism and apartheid regime that perpetuate displacement and dispossession, by ensuring the Palestinian people’s rights to self-determination and return.


In the Gaza Strip, the implementation of these destructive endeavours is unmistakable, manifested in over 16 years of blockade and closure, along with various Israeli military aggressions, which witnessed the destruction of Palestinian cultural heritage, emphasising the calculated nature of these actions in erasing both the physical and historical presence of the Palestinian people. During Israel’s ongoing genocide in the Gaza Strip, Israel has made targets of Palestinian historical and cultural sites and centres, revealing a consistent pattern that aligns with its calculated campaign to erase any trace of Palestinian presence, be it human or cultural.


Israel’s wanton destruction does not only target lives and cultural heritage sites, but also the symbolic and resilient expressions of Palestinian identity. The submission highlighted the destruction of arches, monuments, and cultural symbols in cities like Jenin and Tulkarem, demonstrating a calculated effort to erase historical narratives and cultural fabric. Specifically, during a six-hour military attack on Jenin city and Refugee Camp on 30 October 2023, the IOF, accompanied by D9 bulldozers, destroyed the arch at the northern entrance of Jenin Refugee Camp. The arch, bearing inscriptions defiantly stating, “This is a waiting station until return”, was levelled along with the iconic Horse Roundabout at the eastern entrance. The horse sculpture, a powerful symbol of Palestinian resilience made from the remains of vehicles and houses destroyed in the 2002 invasion, faced Haifa, from where thousands of Camp residents were expelled during the Nakba of 1948. In a similar 17-hour attack on Tulkarem city and Refugee Camp starting on 13 November 2023, the IOF deliberately destroyed the Camp’s arch at the northern entrance, including the Palestinian key of return, symbolising the Nakba of 1948. The assault on the second-largest refugee camp in the West Bank also included the destruction of a memorial for two Palestinians killed by the IOF during a raid on 6 May 2023.


To this end, the submission urged Member States of the Council to recognise Israel’s unlawful destruction of Palestinian cultural heritage as a fundamental element that enables Israel to further its colonial project in Palestine, and to entrench its apartheid over the Palestinian people as a whole and their lands by erasing their cultural identity as a people; and strengthen international support to, and urge States to reinstate funding to, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides critical, life-saving humanitarian aid for almost two million people in Gaza.


Read the full written submission here.