The UN must hold Israel to account for extra-judicial killings! – while US cities are experiencing an epidemic of deaths on the streets

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Israeli troops arresting young Palestinians during a raid on their village

A PALESTINIAN rights group has called on United Nations experts and rapporteurs to hold the Israeli regime to account for its extrajudicial killings of Palestinians across the occupied territories, which have left 41 people dead since the beginning of the current year.

The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) urged UN officials, particularly the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, to use all available means to pressure the occupying Tel Aviv regime to put an end to its practices against Palestinians and targeting their lives.
‘On a daily, systematic and widespread basis, Israel continues to violate Palestinian rights and use excessive force against unarmed Palestinian civilians throughout the occupied Palestinian territories,’ it said in its urgent appeal, Palestine’s official Wafa news agency reported.
‘The occupying Israeli forces shoot to kill Palestinians, who are protected under International Humanitarian Law (IHL), particularly at military checkpoints, and at their own whim.
‘Israeli troops have targeted and killed many Palestinians, including children and women, at checkpoints who are not posing any imminent danger to the lives of Israeli soldiers.
‘These Palestinians were killed because they were allegedly attempting to carry out operations or on grounds of mere suspicion,’ it added.
The ICHR pointed to the killing of Ghada Ibrahim Sabateen, a 47-year-old Palestinian widow and mother of six children, near an Israeli checkpoint at the entrance to Husan town, located nine kilometres west of Bethlehem, on April 10 and said she ‘was directly targeted without any justification.’
It added that a soldier opened fire on and wounded her and then left her on the ground for a long time, not allowing anyone to help her, until she bled to death.
On the same day, Maha al-Za’tari, a female citizen of the southern West Bank city of al-Khalil, was targeted and killed in cold blood, without any justification.
Tensions have been rising around the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied Old City of Jerusalem amid an upsurge in Israel-Palestine violence.
The al-Aqsa compound sits on a plateau, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in a move not recognised by the international community.
The contested site is holy to Muslims, Jews and Christians, and has been the focal point of the decades-long Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

  • The Arab Parliament has called on international human rights organisations to pressure Israel to end its repressive measures against Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and to immediately release them.

On Monday, the legislative body of the Arab League urged the international community and relevant international organisations to convene a conference on Palestinian prisoners and to intervene urgently to halt Israeli practices and violations against detainees.
It further held the Tel Aviv regime fully responsible for the lives of Palestinian prisoners, urging Israeli authorities to respect international law and provide the inmates with the necessary protection and put an end to the suffering of detainees held under Israel’s ‘administrative detention’ policy.
Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli detention have declared a state of general mobilisation in protest against the Israeli regime’s ongoing repressive measures.
The Arab parliament also renewed its call on the United Nations to establish a fact-finding committee to visit Israeli jails and to identify violations against Palestinian prisoners.
It further noted that this year’s Palestinian Prisoners’ Day has coincided with the escalation of violence by Israeli forces against Palestinians across the occupied territories, stressing that ‘it is imperative that everyone should endeavour to remove injustice against the defenceless Palestinian people.’
The regime in Tel Aviv has escalated its crackdown on Palestinians since the beginning of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, arresting a number of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem, desecrating al-Aqsa mosque, imposing new restrictions on Palestinian people’s entry into the mosque, and ordering the demolition of Palestinian homes and agricultural facilities.
This Israeli violence, repeated on a daily basis, has led to fierce clashes between Israelis and Palestinians across the occupied territories.
Meanwhile, a Palestinian commission for prisoners says that the number of Palestinian prisoners held under Israel’s so-called administrative detention has increased to 650.
The Palestinian Commission of Detainees’ and Ex-Detainees’ Affairs said in a statement on Monday that the reason for the surge is that Israel intensified its administrative detention orders in March and April, particularly in occupied East Jerusalem/al Quds.
The number previously stood at 450.
The Commission further noted that the Palestinian administrative detainees often resort to hunger strike to secure their release from prison, and some inmates have gone on hunger strike for more than 100 days before being released.
The latest is Palestinian prisoner Khalil Awawdeh, from al-Khalil, who has been on an open-ended hunger strike for 46 consecutive days demanding an end to his administrative detention without charge.
Palestinian prisoners are set to launch a mass hunger strike in protest against rampant human rights abuses by the Israeli regime.
More than 7,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently being held in about 17 Israeli jails.
Hundreds of them, including women and minors, are being held under ‘administrative detention’ – which rights groups describe as a ‘bankrupt tactic’ and have long called on Israel to end its use.
Under Israel’s ‘administrative detention’ Palestinians are kept without charge or trial for up to six months, a period that can be extended an infinite number of times. Women and minors are also among those detainees.
The detention takes place on orders from a military commander and on the basis of what the Israeli regime itself describes as ‘secret’ evidence.
Some prisoners have been held in administrative detention for up to 11 years.
They have also been subjected to systematic torture, harassment, and repression all through the years of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Palestinian detainees have continuously resorted to open-ended hunger strikes to express their outrage.

  • CITIES across the United States are witnessing an ‘epidemic of deaths’ on the streets, as the homeless population is growing in size and age and becoming more vulnerable to illnesses, according to a report.

The wider availability of deadly illicit drugs, especially fentanyl, on the streets has been a major cause of the rising death toll among the homeless population, The New York Times reported, citing official data and research.
Austin, Denver, Indianapolis, Nashville and Salt Lake City are among the cities where officials and advocacy groups have been especially worried by the rising number of homeless deaths.
The crisis is more acute in the state of California, which is home to a fourth of America’s 500,000 strong homeless population.
In Los Angeles County alone, an average of five homeless people died a day last year, according to data from the county coroner.
The county, which includes the sprawling Southern California city of Los Angeles, recorded a total of 287 homeless deaths last year, of which 24 were reported in alleys and 72 happened on the pavement.
But based on data from the handful of counties that report homeless deaths, at least 4,800 people died on the streets of California last year, a figure that experts say is a conservative estimate. Visitors to Los Angeles often express shock at the sheer number of people living on the streets of one of the wealthiest cities in America.
In Los Angeles County, the homeless population grew by 50 per cent from 2015 to 2020. Homeless deaths grew at a much faster rate, an increase of about 200 per cent during the same period to nearly 2,000 deaths last year.
‘These are profoundly lonely deaths,’ said David Modersbach, who led the first public study of homeless deaths in Alameda County across the Bay from San Francisco.
The death toll, staggering as it is, represents only a small fraction of the tens of thousands of people who draw their last breath on the streets of the wealthiest country in the world.
‘It’s like a wartime death toll in places where there is no war,’ Maria Raven, an emergency room doctor in San Francisco who co-wrote a study about homeless deaths, said.
Officials concede that tallying homeless deaths is a painstaking process and in many places there is no public record of those who perish while homeless.
However, experts at the non-profit National Health Care for the Homeless Council estimate the total number of homeless deaths across America is actually between 17,000 and 40,000 every year.
In many American cities, the number of homeless deaths spiked during the Covid-19 pandemic, as public health officials have been preoccupied with combating the coronavirus and medical facilities have been stretched thin.
Men in their 50s and 60s typically account for the largest share of homeless deaths.