Joint letter to UN Member States: Civil Society calls for a Special Session on the escalating Israeli attacks against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line

Press release

18 May 2021

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, we urgently call on your mission to support holding a Special Session by the UN Human Rights Council to address 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 military 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 IOF 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 23 Palestinians and wounding 3825 Palestinians between 7 and 18 May 2021 at 2:00 pm.

The crackdown comes 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 to maintain 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 Israeli 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 ultra-right 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 a whole 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. Al Mezan reported that residential blocks are “being targeted pursuant to an apparent policy agreed by Israel’s military and political leadership”. 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. As of 2pm on 17 May, Al Mezan documented the death of 206 Palestinians, including 60 children and 34 women; 909 others have been injured in the attacks, including 193 children and 144 women.

The 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. According to information available to Al Mezan, around 41,900 people have moved to 53 UNRWA schools, and the numbers are still increasing. Displaced people are experiencing appalling humanitarian conditions, especially when UNRWA schools have not officially been opened as shelters.

As Israel continues to escalate its attacks against Palestinians and commits violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law, we call on your missions to:

  • Urgently call for a Special Session by the UN Human Rights Council on the escalating Israeli attacks against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line,
  • Establish a commission of inquiry to:
    - Monitor, document and report on the grave human rights violations against the Palestinian people on both sides of the Green Line, including the escalating attacks on Palestinians since April 2021;
     Include and address the root causes of Israel’s institutionalized regime of racial domination and oppression in line with UN CERD’s 2019 Concluding Observation on Israel which highlighted Israeli policies and practices against Palestinian people on both sides of the Green Line are in violation of Article III of 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.
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  • Co-signatories

    Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
    International Service for Human Rights
    Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW AP)
    DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)
    Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN)
    Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)
    Women League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
    Sexual Rights Initiative
    International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
    The Center for Reproductive Rights
    Bytes For All, Pakistan
    Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign
    Human Rights solidarity
    Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine (AURDIP)
    European Legal Support Center
    Just Peace Advocates/Mouvement Pour Une Paix Juste
    Collectif Judéo Arabe et Citoyen pour la Palestine
    The Niagara Movement for Justice in Palestine-Israel (NMJPI)
    ICAHD Finland
    Association belgo-Palestinienne WB
    Viva Salud
    EuroMed Rights
    The Palestinian Human Rights Organization (PHRO) – Lebanon
    Scottish Palestinian Forum
    European Trade Union Network for Justice in Palestine (ETUN)
    Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice (IIMA)
    UPJB (Union des Progressistes Juifs de Belgique)
    Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS)
    Habitat International Coalition – Housing and Land Rights Network
    Canadian BDS Coalition
    ASGI – Association for juridical studies on immigration
    Network for Immigration, Development and Democracy (IDD)
    Aegis for Human Rights
    Geneva Bridge Association
    Association of Maghreb Workers in France
    Association for the Promotion of the Right to Difference
    El Na aura Association, Belgium
    Coordination for Maghreb Human rights Organizations (CMODH)
    SAM organization for Rights and Liberties
    Yemeni Observatory for Human Rights
    Dameer Foundation for Rights and Freedom
    INSAF Center for Defending Freedoms and Minorities
    Abductees’ Mothers Association
    Together We Raise (Social Association)
    Watch for Human Rights
    Mwatana for Human Rights
    Hadramout Foundation For Legal Support and Training
    Yemeni Observatory of Mines
    Mwatana for Human Rights
    Social Peace Promotion and Legal Protection
    Al-Haq Foundation for Human Rights
    Al-Rakeezeh Foundation for Relief and Development
    Growth foundation for development & improvement
    Namaa Foundation for Development and Improvement
    Lebanese Center for Human Rights
    Freedom of Thought and Expression
    Committee for Justice
    Belady Center for Rights and Freedoms
    Egyptian Front for Human Rights
    Egyptian Human Rights Forum
    The Freedom Initiative
    Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
    Centre for Egyptian Women Legal Assistance
    Libyan Center for Freedom of the Press
    February 17 Organization for Environment and Human Rights
    Shiraa Association to fight AIDS and drugs
    Thought Pioneers Organization Mattress
    Mattress Youth Organization
    Al-Tebyan Association for Human Rights Dirj
    Al-Massar Organization for Youth and Culture Dirj Branch
    Mediterranean Organization for Development and Humanitarian Relief
    International Arabic Organization for Women’s Rights
    Nass for Nass organization to support youth Misurata
    Defender Center for Human Rights
    Libyan Crimes Watch
    Libyan Organization for Legal Aid
    Human rights solidarity
    The Tunisian General Labor Union
    The Committee for the Respect of Liberties and Human Rights in Tunisia
    The Tunisian Organization Against Torture
    The Tunisian Association for the Defense of Individual Liberties
    The Tunisian Association 23-10 for the Support of the Democratic Transition Process
    The National Observatory for the Defense of the Civic Character of the State
    The Tunisian Association for the Defense of Minorities
    Hassan Saadaoui Association for Democracy and Equality
    The National Union for Tunisian Journalists
    Vigilance for Democracy and Civic State
    The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights
    Democratic Association of Tunisians in France
    Association Aswat Nissa
    Tunisian Federation for Citizenship on both shores
    Tunisian Union for Citizenship Action
    Tunisian Center for Press Freedom
    EuroMaghreb Network: citizenship and culture
    Vigilance for Democracy in Tunisia (Belgium)
    Ga3 Kifkif Network
    Algerian Feminist Journal Foundation
    Tharwa N’Fadhma N’Soumeur organisation
    Action for Change and Democracy in Algeria (ACDA)
    Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH)
    Autonomous Union of Public Administration Personnel (SNAPAP)
    General Autonomous Confederation of Workers in Algeria (CGATA)
    Riposte Internationale
    Collective of the Families of the Disappeared in Algeria (CFDA)
    National Committee for the Release of Detainees (CNLD)
    SHOAA for Human Rights
    Association for the Defense of Human Rights in Morocco (ASDHOM)
    Organization for freedoms of Media and Expression
    Libyan Organization for Independent Media
    Youth for Tawergha

  • Member organisations - Israel & Palestine
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  • Member organisations - Israel & Palestine
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