In light of the 39th FIDH Congress that is taking place in the symbolic location of Johannesburg, South Africa, and considering the developments in recent months in Israel/Palestine, FIDH repeats its call to Israel to end its longstanding occupation. FIDH also calls for Israel to end its apartheid measures and practices, discrimination policies, policies of arbitrary detention - particulary administrative detention, transfer of its civilian population into the occupied territory and the forced displacement of Palestinians from their land and homes.
FIDH expresses grave concern over the continued deterioration of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), condemn any form of violence against civilians by State and non State actors, and calls for immediate action by the international community. Israel’s nearly fifty-year occupation has been characterized by blatant disregard for and violations of international law, and a culture of impunity that has been facilitated by the failure of the international community to hold Israel accountable for its violations. Many of Israel’s violations may amount to grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, and war crimes and crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, both of which require action by High Contracting parties and States Parties respectively.
Over the past year, Israel has escalated its unlawful practices and policies aimed at further entrenching and deepening the occupation of Palestinian land and suppressing and fragmenting the Palestinian population. This includes the forcible transfer of the Palestinian population, specifically in Area C and East Jerusalem; continued and increased land confiscations and the expansion of the illegal settlement enterprise; the use of collective punishment measures such as closure of entire Palestinian villages and punitive home demolitions; and the suppression of Palestinian resistance through the excessive use of force, recently manifesting in a ’shoot to kill policy’ which resulted in the killing of over 200 Palestinians since October 2015.
In the Gaza Strip, the nine-year closure continues, imposing severe conditions on the Palestinian inhabitants, in violation of their basic human rights, and ensuring the fragmentation, physical and otherwise, of the Palestinian people. Israeli policies and practices in the Gaza Strip involve cruel, inhuman and degarding treatment of Palestinians who are subject to collective punishment. Israel continues to enjoy impunity for its frequent full-scale military offensives, that result in death, injury and vast destruction, and systematic and widespread violations that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Israeli occupying power.
All of these policies and practices necessarily undermine Palestinian’s ability to exercise their internationally recognized right to self-determination, including sovereignty over natural resources.
Israel’s increasingly right-wing government also targets and attacks human rights defenders - in Israel, Palestine, and abroad - through legislation and actions aimed at undermining their work on accountability and put their right to freedom of expression and freedom of association at risk. Such action includes institutionalized, planned and very well-resourced smear campaign and attacks that involve death threats, particularly against human rights defenders working with the International Criminal Court.
Despite these escalations, there has been complete inaction by the international community which has allowed Israel’s nearly 50-year occupation to continue. It is time for the international community, including third state parties, corporate actors, and civil society organizations, to act. Given Israel’s track record of violations of international law and continued non-cooperation with United Nations (UN) mechanisms, the time has come for a call for sanctions against Israel at the UN Security Council - including a ban on Israeli goods manufactured and produced in occupied territory, divestments from Israel, the suspension of the EU/Israel association agreement and a halt on all military trade and cooperation with Israel.
FIDH urges the international community to hold Israel accountable to end the occupation and ensure justice for the Palestinian population — which will only be achieved through respect for international law and the protection of human rights.