Israel's "systematic oppression" of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza appears to constitute the "inhuman" and "degrading" practice of "apartheid," charged a United Nations investigator.
Richard Falk, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, chronicles Israel's human rights abuses in a searing 22-page report to the U.N. Human Rights Council — his final report after six years in the position. "Through prolonged occupation, with practices and policies which appear to constitute apartheid and segregation, ongoing expansion of settlements, and continual construction of the wall arguably amounting to de facto annexation of parts of the occupied Palestinian territory, the denial by Israel of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people is evident," he writes.
Danny Muller, coordinator for Middle East Children's Alliance, told Common Dreams, "This report further documents the human rights violations committed against Palestinians — violations that happen every day under the US -funded Israeli occupation and apartheid system."
In East Jerusalem, the "revocation of residency permits" and "forced evictions of Palestinian families," as well as targeted demolition of Palestinian homes, amounts to a "gradual and bureaucratic process of ethnic cleansing," Falk writes.
In the West Bank, Palestinians are subject to military law and face systematic violation of their freedom of movement, assembly, and expression, as well as their rights to education and work, according to the report. Meanwhile, Israeli settlers live under a civilian legal code and enjoy rights that Palestinians living in close proximity do not.
The report charges that the "denial and lack of protection of Palestinian children’s rights" is built into the "Israeli military legal regime." An average of 700 Palestinian children are detained and prosecuted every year, and between January to October of 2013, 441 Palestinian children were displaced due to Israeli demolition of their homes, the report states. A tragic 344 children were killed by Israel's "Operation Cast Lead" attack on Gaza in 2008 and 2009, the report notes.
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"Can anyone explain why collective punishment against children is allowed to continue?" asked Muller.
Faulk writes that the "unlawful" Israeli blockade of Gaza, combined with the ongoing occupation and continued military incursions, has contributed to "a serious emergency situation... that threatens the entire population." He continues, "The present situation is dire, as massive infrastructural failures cause daily hardship for the population, who are also at risk of epidemics."
Listed under "Acts potentially amounting to segregation and apartheid," Falk includes the "continuing excessive use of force by Israeli security forces (ISF) and a lack of accountability for violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law." He slams "lethal force against demonstrators," as well as the "policy of targeted killing, which resulted in the killing of 369 Palestinians during the period September 2000 – December 2013." Faulk charges that, "on average, for every person killed as a target of ISF, one or two other persons have been killed in any given operation."
The document, which was reportedly scheduled to be presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council next month, was published last week by pro-Israel group U.N. Watch.
Among several recommendations, Falk urges cessation of trade with settlements, as well as the lifting of the blockade on Gaza. He calls for the International Court of Justice to "assess allegations that the prolonged occupation possesses legally unacceptable characteristics of 'colonialism', 'apartheid' and 'ethnic cleansing.'"