UN rights expert calls on Israel to abide by Gaza ceasefire
UN rights expert calls on Israel to abide by Gaza ceasefire
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[JURIST] The UN Special Rapporteur [official website] on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967 Richard Falk called on Israel [press release] Wednesday to fully implement and continue to support the recent conflict-ending ceasefire agreement with Palestinians in Gaza. Falk concluded a week-long mission evaluating the overall impact of Israel’s prolonged occupation and blockade of Gaza. In his statement Falk accused Israel of deliberately targeting civilian targets during the recent conflict, with a disproportionate number of attacks harming and killing civilians in a manner that appears to violate international law. The Special Rapporteur also addressed the pressing need to clarify aspects of the implementation of the cease fire agreement, saying:

Every day Palestinian fishermen and farmers risk being shot at or detained by Israeli forces. Already since the agreement was reached, Israel has detained 13 fishermen, confiscated 4 fishing boats and sank another fishing boat. … Such actions signal an Israeli intention to maintain its coercive style of occupation rather to explore whether implementing the ceasefire agreement might lead toward a more hopeful future.

Falk urged for sustained pressure by the international community on Israel, viewing world-wide support of the recent General Assembly resolution that made Palestine a non-Member observer State a foundation for a concerted international effort to protect Palestinian rights. According to Falk if significant underlying problems in Gaza, including lack of fresh water and sanitation, crumbling infrastructure and deficient investment, all exacerbated by the Israeli blockade and occupation, are not addressed, it appears that, by 2020, Gaza may be uninhabitable.

The most recent conflict in Gaza has raised concern of possible human rights violations committed by Israel. Last month UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] pressured [JURIST report] Israel to avoid strikes on civilian structures in Gaza, expressing acute concern over the surge in the number of Palestinian civilian deaths in November. Also, in response to the rising civilian death toll and the dozens of Gazan schools and religious sites damaged by the bombings, UNICEF [official website] said that children in Gaza were suffering from severe psycho-social distress that refrain them from sleeping, going out in public and engaging in social activities. In August Amnesty International [advocacy website] called on Israel [JURIST report] to investigate its treatment of Palestinian detainees, alleging that two had been mistreated. In June the UN also urged Israel to end its blockade [JURIST report] of the Gaza Strip, alleging that it was violating international law.