[JURIST] The UN Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Makarim Wibisono [Jerusalem Post report], on Tuesday formally requested [press release; UN News Centre reported] access to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory to gather first-hand information into the human rights situation in Gaza. The UN estimates over the past six weeks of hostilities, the death toll has exceeded 1,450 Palestinian civilians, including more than 490 children, and four civilians in Israel. Hundreds of thousands of civilians remain in UN shelters or with host families across the Gaza Strip, and around 17,200 housing units have been totally destroyed or rendered uninhabitable, with life-sustaining infrastructure for entire neighborhoods in need of urgent repair. The most recent visit by the Special Rapporteur to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory was in 2007. Wibisono argues lifting the seven-year ban on access is an critical step to ending the “perpetual crisis and allowing the people of Gaza to rebuild their lives.”
In the previous seven weeks rocket attacks between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory has led to the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians forcing the UN and the international community to take steps to help resolve the conflict. Two weeks ago the UN Human rights Council [official website] appointed three experts [JURIST report] to an international commission of inquiry to investigate alleged international humanitarian and human rights law violations committed by both Israelis and Palestinians during the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip. Earlier this month UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay [official profile], urged [JURIST report] the international community to end what she called a “climate of impunity” around the Israel-Palestine conflict. In July top Palestinian officials filed a complaint [JURIST report] in the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza.