HRC48 - Israel/Palestine: Joint Oral Intervention during the General Debate under item 7

Press release

UN Human Rights Council 48th Session

Item 7 - General debate

October 1, 2021

Madam President,

Shatha Odeh is a 60 year old nurse and the Director of the Palestinian grassroots organization Health Work Committees, one of the main providers of healthcare to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. She was arrested by the Israeli occupying forces (IOF) on 7 July 2021 in connection with her human rights work. Initially, Ms. Odeh was denied access to necessary medication and clean clothes and was transferred from Ofer prison in the occupied West Bank to Hasharon prison in Israel in violation of the fourth Geneva Convention.

In recent months, Israel has also escalated its attacks on Palestinian civil society through raids and closures, including targeting the offices of the Health Work Committees, Defense for Children International - Palestine, and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees. and and criminalization. The Health Work Committees was declared an “unlawful and illegitimate” organization by Israeli military declaration on 22 January 2020.

Israel continues to systematically harass and intimidate Palestinian human rights defenders through interrogations, arrests and detention to maintain its apartheid regime over the Palestinian people as a whole. Under the apartheid convention the “persecution of organizations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid” is listed as an inhumane act used to establish and maintain racial domination by one group over another.

In the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), more than 800,000 have been detained by the IOF under Israeli military orders since 1967. [1] This amounts to approximately 20 percent of the Palestinian population in the oPt and 40 percent of the male population. [2] Palestinian prisoners face torture, other ill-treatment and medical neglect, and are often held under administrative detention without charge or trial.

We call on the newly established commission of inquiry to address Israel’s use of arrest and imprisonment to silence opposition to apartheid.

We call on UN member states to :

• Call on Israel to free political prisoners and activists like Shatha Odeh and end its systematic targeting of civil society and human rights defenders within the context of its apartheid and persecution;
• Ensure that Israel refrains from subjecting any prisoner or detainee to torture and ill-treatment and put an end to Israel’s policy of administrative detention;

• Support the reconstitution of the UN Special Committee against Apartheid and the UN Centre against Apartheid; and

• Adhere to your obligations under the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (the Apartheid Convention) and for non-signatory states to ratify the Convention.

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