An Israeli soldier aims a weapon as a demonstrator waves a Palestinian flag during a protest against Israeli settlements, in Beit Dajan in the Israeli-occupied West Bank April 30, 2021. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta

Palestine: 120 Regional and International Organizations Call on States to Ensure Accountability and Address Root Causes in Upcoming HRC Special Session

In Arab Countries, International Advocacy Program, United Nations Human Rights Council by CIHRS

120 organizations from around the world support Palestinian civil society’s call for United Nations (UN) member states to ensure accountability for violations of international law and address the root causes of Israel’s institutionalized racial domination and oppression over the Palestinian people during the upcoming 30th Special Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC).

On 21 May 2021, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) sent a letter on behalf of over 100 regional and international organizations to UN member states, ahead of the HRC Special Session on the grave human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt) scheduled for 27 May 2021. The letter echoed the call by Palestinian civil society to establish a UN commission of inquiry to monitor, document and report on all violations of human rights and humanitarian law, including the latest Israeli attacks against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line. In addition, the organizations called for the mechanism to address the root causes of Israel’s institutionalized racial domination and oppression over the Palestinian people on both sides of the Green Line.[1] CIHRS welcomes the announcement of the 30th UNHRC Special Session following a joint letter sent by CIHRS and Palestinian partners to UN member states calling for a Special Session on 12 May 2021.

Despite the announcement of a ceasefire, Israel’s escalation of violence in Jerusalem today shows that the international community must use the strong momentum of Palestinians and civil society – in Palestine and around the world -against Israel’s apartheid regime. By taking effective measures to put an end to decades of Israeli impunity,  the international community would be, at long last, fulfilling its legal and moral obligations towards the Palestinian people. For 73 years since the Nakba, Palestinians have endured a relentless onslaught of Israeli policies and practices aimed at transferring and dispossessing the Palestinian people in order to ensure Israeli control and domination over land and resources. Israel’s threat of imminent forced evictions of Palestinians in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah is only the latest manifestation of such polices and practices.

“As the world witnesses Israel’s attacks on Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line, it is time for the HRC to address Israeli violations against the Palestinian people as a whole and overcome Israel’s strategic fragmentation of the Palestinian people, one of the main tools used to impose its apartheid,” said Nada Awad, International Advocacy Officer at CIHRS.

Past investigations by the HRC have failed to comprehensively address violations committed against the Palestinian people as a whole. Moreover, UN member states have failed to hold Israel to account for its crimes. “The HRC should adopt a Commission of Inquiry to investigate Israel’s latest attacks on the Palestinian people; however, this mechanism must address root causes, including settler colonialism and apartheid, in order to be effective in advancing accountability,” said Elizabeth Rghebi, Levant Researcher at CIHRS.

[1] CIHRS, “Human Rights Organizations Welcome Concluding Observations of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Racial Segregation and Apartheid on both Sides of the Green Line,” 20 December 2019.

Regional and international civil society organizations from around the world call on UN Member States to address the escalating and institutionalized Israeli attacks against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line during the 30th HRC Special Session

21 May 2021

Your Excellency,

Israel’s repression against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line escalated in May 2021 in response to widespread Palestinian demonstrations against Israel’s imminent threat of eviction and displacement of eight Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem. Notably, this is only the latest example of Israel’s institutionalized regime of racial domination and oppression, which the Palestinian people have endured for decades. While the international community has ensured Israel’s impunity since 1948, enabling Israel to continue to commit widespread and systematic human rights violations, Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line and refugees and exiles abroad continue to oppose and stand steadfast against 73 years of Israeli settler colonialism and apartheid.

As Israel intensifies its crackdown on Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank, conducts military strikes against civilians in the Gaza Strip, which have been living under a comprehensive land, air, and sea closure for 14 years, and targets Palestinians inside the Green Line, the undersigned civil society organizations, from around the world, urge your delegation to  engage in the 30th Special Session by the UN Human Rights Council and  address all violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law, including the root causes of Israeli violations against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line.

Since 13 April 2021, the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the Israeli occupying forces (IOF) have systematically targeted and attacked Palestinians in Jerusalem. The attacks escalated when the occupation police targeted worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, with tear gas, sound bombs, and rubber-coated metal bullets, resulting in hundreds of injured Palestinians. The occupation police prevented paramedics from accessing the compound to treat the injured and even directly targeted emergency responders by firing tear gas and waste water containers on volunteers, paramedics, and ambulances. In other parts of the West Bank, Israel has violently suppressed demonstrations calling for an end to Israeli oppression, including by shooting live ammunition at demonstrators, killing 14 Palestinians between 14 and 18 May 2021[1]. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, between 7 and 19 May, 5164 Palestinians were injured, 578 with live ammunition.

These attacks come in the context of increasing Palestinian mobilization against Israel’s policies and practices of racial domination and oppression, in response to the imminent eviction of eight Palestinian families, totaling 19 households of around 87 individuals, from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem. The forcible transfer of Palestinians from Jerusalem is a war crime and likely amounts to a crime against humanity as it is being perpetrated in a widespread and systematic manner. Principle 6 of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, prohibits arbitrary displacement, including “when it is based on policies of apartheid, ‘ethnic cleansing’ or similar practices aimed at/or resulting in altering the ethnic, religious or racial composition of the affected population.” All of these criteria are applicable to Israeli practices, policies and laws implemented with the intention of maintaining Jewish Israeli domination over the Palestinian people.

The Israeli police have also violently repressed Palestinian demonstrations inside the Green Line. Since 10 May 2021, thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel came out to protest the evictions of Palestinian refugee families in Sheikh Jarrah, the use of extreme violence and attacks on worshippers and protestors by the police in Al-Aqsa Mosque and elsewhere, and the Israeli military attacks in Gaza. The Palestinian protestors were subjected to police violence and human rights violations, including denial of emergency medical care. High Commissioner Bachelet highlighted “reports of excessive and discriminatory use of force by police against Palestinian citizens of Israel”. Since 10 May, the  police have arrested 1097 Palestinians.

Moreover, Israeli settlers have intensified attacks against Palestinians living in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, with the support of the IOF. Inside the Green Line, far-right Jewish Israelis organized and coordinated the arrival of armed Israelis to attack Palestinians in al-Lydd, Ramle, Akka, Haifa, and Yafa, among other cities and areas. Moreover, the IOF has allowed Israeli settlers coming from the West Bank entry into Israel to target Palestinian neighborhoods and villages and provided support and protection as they attacked Palestinian residents and destroyed Palestinian property. In response, the Israeli police has not taken any action against and in some cases cooperated and supported the mob violence. High Commission Bachelet raised concern at “reports that Israeli police failed to intervene where Palestinian citizens of Israel were being violently attacked, and that social media is being used by ultraright-wing groups to rally people to bring ‘weapons, knives, clubs, knuckledusters to use against Palestinian citizens of Israel.”

In the Gaza Strip, the IOF continues to target civilian structures, in particular homes, wiping out whole families, and inflicting widespread destruction and collective punishment on the entire, trapped population. Since 10 May 2021, human rights organizations documented Israel’s use of disproportionate, indiscriminate, and unnecessary military force in violation of international law. Residential blocks are “being targeted pursuant to an apparent policy agreed by Israel’s military and political leadership”[2]. The number of residential buildings targeted now stands at 94, including six towers—three of which were completely destroyed—ultimately destroying 371 residential units. In addition, hundreds of private properties, as well as tens of governmental sites, schools, banks, and mosques have sustained significant damages. Israel’s airstrikes have also led to the large-scale destruction of power and water networks, as well as thousands of square meters of vital paved roads.

Israel’s extensive and systematic attacks on buildings, and the shelling of residential areas, especially those near the separation fence, force civilians—men, women, and children—to flee their homes in search of safety. Around 41,900 people have moved to 53 UNRWA schools, and the numbers are still increasing.[3] Displaced people are experiencing appalling humanitarian conditions, especially when UNRWA schools have not officially been opened as shelters.

As of 2 pm on 17 May, 231 Palestinians, including 65 children and 39 women were killed; 1212others have been injured in the attacks, including 277children and 204women.[4] According to Israeli media, ten Israelis have been killed following rocket fire from Gaza.

It is again clear that civilians are paying the price of Israel’s pervasive impunity. Any firing of rockets or attacks must meet assessments of proportionality and the requirement for a concrete and direct military advantage. Indiscriminate attacks or targeting of civilians not taking a direct part in hostilities constitute a grave violation of international law. In order to protect all civilians, the Human Rights Council should address the root causes of Israel’s settler colonialism and apartheid to achieve lasting justice.

We call on your missions to:

  • Engage in the 30th UN Human Rights Council Special Session and address the escalating Israeli attacks against the Palestinian people, including the root causes of Israeli violations against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line.
  • Establish a commission of inquiry to:
  • Monitor, document and report on all violations of human rights and humanitarian law, including the escalating attacks against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line since April 2021;
  • Include and address the root causes of Israel’s institutionalized regime of racial domination and oppression over the Palestinian people in line with the 2019 Concluding Observations on Israel by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) which highlighted Israeli policies and practices against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line are in violation of Article 3 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) pertaining to racial segregation and apartheid;
  • Identify individuals responsible for serious crimes;
  • Collect and preserve evidence related to violations to be used for accountability in relevant judicial bodies and transfer evidence to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. 

Endorsing organizations

  1. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  2. International Service for Human Rights
  3. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  4. International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW AP)
  5. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
  6. Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)
  7. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
  8. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  9. Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN)
  10. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)
  11. Women League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
  12. Sexual Rights Initiative
  13. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  14. 11.11.11
  15. The Center for Reproductive Rights
  16. Baytna
  17. Bytes For All, Pakistan
  18. Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign
  19. Human Rights solidarity
  20. Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine (AURDIP)
  21. European Legal Support Center
  22. Just Peace Advocates/Mouvement Pour Une Paix Juste
  23. Collectif Judéo Arabe et Citoyen pour la Palestine
  24. The Niagara Movement for Justice in Palestine-Israel (NMJPI)
  25. ICAHD Finland
  26. Association belgo-Palestinienne WB
  27. Viva Salud
  28.  Intal
  29. CNCD-11.11.11
  30. EuroMed Rights
  31. The Palestinian Human Rights Organization (PHRO) – Lebanon
  32. Scottish Palestinian Forum
  33. Trócaire
  34. European Trade Union Network for Justice in Palestine (ETUN)
  35. Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice (IIMA)
  36. UPJB (Union des Progressistes Juifs de Belgique)
  37. Akahatá
  38. Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS)
  39. Habitat International Coalition – Housing and Land Rights Network
  40. Canadian BDS Coalition
  41. ASGI – Association for juridical studies on immigration
  42. Network for Immigration, Development and Democracy (IDD)
  43. Aegis for Human Rights
  44. Geneva Bridge Association
  45. Association of Maghreb Workers in France
  46. Association for the Promotion of the Right to Difference
  47. El Na aura Association, Belgium
  48. Coordination for Maghreb Human rights Organizations (CMODH)
  49. SAM organization for Rights and Liberties
  50. Yemeni Observatory for Human Rights
  51. Dameer Foundation for Rights and Freedom
  52. INSAF Center for Defending Freedoms and Minorities
  53. Abductees’ Mothers Association
  54. Together We Raise (Social Association)
  55. Watch for Human Rights
  56. Mwatana for Human Rights
  57. Hadramout Foundation For Legal Support and Training
  58. Yemeni Observatory of Mines
  59. Mwatana for Human Rights
  60. Social Peace Promotion and Legal Protection
  61. Al-Haq Foundation for Human Rights
  62. Al-Rakeezeh Foundation for Relief and Development
  63. Growth foundation for development & improvement
  64. Namaa Foundation for Development and Improvement
  65. Lebanese Center for Human Rights
  66. Freedom of Thought and Expression
  67. Committee for Justice
  68. Belady Center for Rights and Freedoms
  69. Egyptian Front for Human Rights
  70. Egyptian Human Rights Forum
  71. The Freedom Initiative
  72. Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
  73. Centre for Egyptian Women Legal Assistance
  74. Libyan Center for Freedom of the Press
  75. February 17 Organization for Environment and Human Rights
  76. Shiraa Association to fight AIDS and drugs
  77. Thought Pioneers Organization Mattress
  78. Mattress Youth Organization
  79. Al-Tebyan Association for Human Rights Dirj
  80. Al-Massar Organization for Youth and Culture Dirj Branch
  81. Mediterranean Organization for Development and Humanitarian Relief
  82. International Arabic Organization for Women’s Rights
  83. Nass for Nass organization to support youth Misurata
  84. Defender Center for Human Rights
  85. Libyan Crimes Watch
  86. Libyan Organization for Legal Aid
  87. Human rights solidarity
  88. The Tunisian General Labor Union
  89. The Committee for the Respect of Liberties and Human Rights in Tunisia
  90. The Tunisian Organization Against Torture
  91. The Tunisian Association for the Defense of Individual Liberties
  92. The Tunisian Association 23-10 for the Support of the Democratic Transition Process
  93. The National Observatory for the Defense of the Civic Character of the State
  94. The Tunisian Association for the Defense of Minorities
  95. Hassan Saadaoui Association for Democracy and Equality
  96. The National Union for Tunisian Journalists
  97. Vigilance for Democracy and Civic State
  98. The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights
  99. Democratic Association of Tunisians in France
  100. Association Aswat Nissa
  101. Tunisian Federation for Citizenship on both shores
  102. Tunisian Union for Citizenship Action
  103. Tunisian Center for Press Freedom
  104. EuroMaghreb Network: citizenship and culture
  105. Vigilance for Democracy in Tunisia (Belgium)
  106. Ga3 Kifkif Network
  107. Algerian Feminist Journal Foundation
  108. Tharwa N’Fadhma N’Soumeur organisation
  109. Action for Change and Democracy in Algeria (ACDA)
  110. Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH)
  111. Autonomous Union of Public Administration Personnel (SNAPAP)
  112. General Autonomous Confederation of Workers in Algeria (CGATA)
  113. Riposte Internationale
  114. Collective of the Families of the Disappeared in Algeria (CFDA)
  115. National Committee for the Release of Detainees (CNLD)
  116. SHOAA for Human Rights
  117. Association for the Defense of Human Rights in Morocco (ASDHOM)
  118. Organization for freedoms of Media and Expression
  119. Libyan Organization for Independent Media
  120. Youth for Tawergha

[1] According to Al-Haq’s monitoring and documentation unit


[3] According to Al Mezan’s monitoring and documentation unit

[4] According to Al Mezan’s monitoring and documentation unit,

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