Halt ‘serious violations of Palestinian Human Rights’ – says UN

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THE United Nations has called on Israel to halt a series of serious violations of the Palestinian people’s human rights cited by a 2009 fact-finding mission, a UN report says.

Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kyung-wha Kang, presented a report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, detailing the violations of international rights, as well as humanitarian laws in Palestinian territories during the 22-day Gaza war in 2008 and 2009.

‘It has been nearly three years since this council endorsed the fact-finding mission’s recommendations. Yet, not one person has been indicted for any of the incidents documented,’ she said commenting on progress made according to the Goldstone report recommendations.

Speaking on behalf of UN rights chief Navi Pillay, Kang said that there was a ‘need to more earnestly pursue accountability for the serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law that were documented by the fact-finding mission.’

According to the report, Israel’s Operation Cast Lead offensive killed some 1,400 Palestinians, most of them civilians, in the Gaza Strip, and 13 Israelis.

It also questioned the detention of nearly 5,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, with many being held without trial.

‘Respecting human rights and international humanitarian law obligations means that perpetrators of violations are brought to justice,’ she added.

Kang further slammed Israeli settlers who attack Palestinians on their property, saying that they should also be brought to justice.

She also criticized the sentencing of an Israeli soldier for only 45 days in prison after he killed two unarmed Palestinian women waving a white flag during the Gaza conflict.

The UN report also highlighted a great economic crisis in Palestinian territories.

Back in March, Israel suspended all working ties with the UN Human Rights Council, announcing it would not cooperate with the council in an investigation of the construction of Jewish settlements in Palestinian land.

The Israeli military frequently attacks the Gaza Strip, saying the actions are being conducted for defensive purposes. However, disproportionate force is always used, in violation of international law, and civilians are often killed or injured.

In addition to airstrikes and ground attacks, the Tel Aviv regime also denies about 1.7 million people in Gaza their basic rights, including the freedom of movement and the right to decent living, work, health and education.

Life in Gaza is hell because of the occupation of Palestine and the economic blockade.

The Salim famly in Gaza that lost eight children over two years says the lack of sanitation around their home in al-Bureij refugee camp is responsible for their deaths.

The Salim family lives meters from a landfill in the central Gaza camp, and their home is surrounded by open sewage and trash.

Omar Salim, 30, said that his son Mohammad pleaded not to be taken to the hospital when he fell ill with a fever and had blue spots on his skin.

‘Please dad, don’t take me to the hospital, I don’t want to die like my cousins and my brothers,’ Mohammad said, according to his father.

Omar took his son to the hospital, where he died minutes after his appointment.

‘My two daughters also died from this strange disease.

‘All doctors failed to diagnose the disease, or to give any logical or clear explanation about it. The environmental situation we are living in is difficult, and our children and we risk death at any moment,’ Omar added.

‘It was sewage water that killed my children and my brothers’ children.

‘They died because of the foul smells this sewage emits and the fatal germs which spread in the area and the smoke of burned waste which intrudes our homes.’

The camp mayor Anis Abu Shamala said that municipal officials had visited the Salim family and found flies and insects around their home.

Tests on the water revealed strange microbes, and municipality staff brought water sterilisation equipment but the family refused to use it, the mayor claimed.

‘The municipality asked local and international organisations to implement a drainage project in the camp,’ he said.

The mayor urged the UN agency for refugees, UNRWA – which shares responsibility for the camp, to help remove rubbish and waste.

He said the municipality removed 60 per cent of the camp’s trash.

The 60-year-old head of the Salim family, also called Omar, said incinerating rubbish and sewage had caused the children’s fatal diseases.

‘During the past two years, I lost eight of my children. The main reason, as the doctors said, is the fumes from burning trash.

‘The municipality gathered the rubbish near our house, and burned it.

‘On the other hand, the sewage is another reason as it surrounds our home. The environment here is not fit for human beings.’

He added that he had filed many complaints to the authorities but received no response.

The local municipality and UNRWA have been piling rubbish near the family’s home for two years, he said.

Muna Salim, 50, said the deaths of her grandchildren was due to bacteria, germs and fungi emanating from rubbish and sewage.

The grandmother called on officials to intervene before the family loses another child.

She blamed the municipality, the government and the ministry of local governance for the death of her grandchildren, accusing them all of neglecting their responsibilities.

And she appealed to Gaza premier Ismail Haniya and the minister of local governance along with all concerned authorities to remove the landfill and install a sewage network in the area.

l Seven Palestinian detainees released in last year’s prisoner swap deal are being held by Israel under a military order claiming their amnesty has been revoked, a report by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Prisoners Affairs said on Wednesday.

Ayman Sharawna, Ibrahim Abu Hijleh, Ayman Abu Dawoud, Yousef Shtiwi, Muhammad Masalha, Iyad Abu Fannoun and Samer al-Issawi are being detained and Israel has not issued any information about the circumstances behind their prolonged incarceration, the report said.

The prisoners’ rights group Addameer says Israel has detained a number of prisoners released in the deal by invoking a relatively new provision of Military Order 1651.

The provision allows a special military committee to cancel amnesty for a prisoner based on secret information, usually without presenting any new charges.

The group says Muhammad Masalha was released but Ali Zeidat is being held under the military order.

Zeidat is the only prisoner being held who must serve the remainder of the prison term for which he was previously held before being granted amnesty in the Shalit deal.

He was re-arrested in August 2012 and must serve eight more months in an Israeli prison.