Al-Jazeera / July 11, 2023
UN expert says more than 800,000 Palestinians, including children as young as 12, detained by Israel since 1967 occupation.
Israel has imprisoned more than 800,000 Palestinians in the occupied territory since 1967, including tens of thousands of children, and of the current 5,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons about 1,100 are being held without charge or trial, an expert has told the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Currently, there are 160 Palestinian children among those being held in Israeli prisons, Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, told the council on Monday.
Albanese, presenting a report on the arbitrary detention of Palestinians, described Israel as treating occupied Palestinian territory as an open-air prison prison.
“Israel’s military occupation has morphed the entire occupied Palestinian territory into an open-air prison, where Palestinians are constantly confined, surveilled and disciplined,” Albanese told the council.
Israel’s practice of unlawfully imprisoning Palestinians was “tantamount to international crimes which warranted an urgent investigation by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court”, the UN said in a summary of the special rapporteur’s presentation.
“All the more as these offences appeared to be part of a plan of ‘de-Palestinisation’ of the territory. This threatened the existence of a people as a national cohesive group,” the summary added.
Albanese told the council that many Palestinians were considered guilty without evidence, arrested without warrants, detained without charges or trial, and brutalised in Israeli custody.
“Under Israeli occupation, generations of Palestinians have endured widespread and systematic arbitrary deprivation of liberty,” she told the council, according to the German news agency DPA.
In her report, Albanese describes a system of “apartheid imposed on the Palestinians” that needs to end “immediately”.
The special rapporteur also called on governments not to recognise or support illegal Jewish settlements and to hold those responsible for such settlements accountable.
According to DPA, at the end of June, the UN Human Rights Office updated its database with the names of companies involved in settlement construction. The list includes mainly Israeli companies, but also some from the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Spain and Luxembourg. The UN Human Rights Council commissioned the database.
Israel was not present for Albanese’s presentation on Monday, according to the UN summary of the presentation, and has repeatedly rejected UN criticism of conditions in occupied Palestinian territory.
The State of Palestine, speaking as a concerned entity on Monday, expressed support for the special rapporteur’s work “despite attempts to target” her mandate, the UN said in the summary.
SOURCE: AL-JAZEERA, DPA
Israel turning Palestinian territories into ‘open-air prison’, says UN expert
Middle East Eye / July 11, 2023
UN special rapporteur Francesca Albanese says Israel’s policies appear to be plan to ‘de-Palestinianize’ occupied territories.
The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories has turned the West Bank into an open-air prison for Palestinians, the UN special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories has said in a new report.
“All the more, as these offences appear to be part of a plan to de-Palestinianize the territory. This threatens the existence of the Palestinian people as a national cohesive group. It is critical that the international community recognizes the illegality of the Israeli occupation,” Albanese told the Human Rights Council during a session on Monday.
While Gaza has often been referred to as an “open-air prison” because of the blockade it has faced since 2007, Albanese has extended this language to include more Palestinian territories, including the occupied West Bank.
“This wider carcerality, made of an array of laws, procedures and techniques of coercive confinement, transforms the occupied Palestinian territory into a constantly surveilled open-air panopticon,” Albanese said in the report.
The special rapporteur also noted that the “presence of illegal colonies” made up of Israeli settlers has further restricted Palestinians’ freedom of movement and increased the surveillance apparatus around them.
“Through an array of physical, bureaucratic, and digital mechanisms, the Israeli regime has turned the occupied territory into a ‘panopticon’, where Palestinians are constantly surveilled and disciplined,” she said in her report.
There are approximately 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, according to the rights group, Addameer.
Albanese called on Israel to release all Palestinian minors, as well as all Palestinian detainees that are being held “for acts devoid of offensiveness under international law”.
Albanese said the use of arbitrary arrests and administrative detention – arrest without trial or charge for indefinite amounts of time – are some of the pillars of Israel’s apartheid system.
She also called on Israel to release the bodies of dead Palestinians and guarantee they receive “dignified burials”.
Since assuming her role in April 2022, Albanese has been critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and has said Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid and operating as a settler colonial state.
At the same time, she has faced a campaign from Israeli right-wing groups calling for her removal from her UN post.
Jewish settlement expansion
Israeli violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank has heightened over the past few months, culminating in an Israeli military operation in the city of Jenin that killed 12 Palestinians and left scores of others wounded.
Since then, the violence has continued. On Monday, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man near the city of Ramallah.
At the same time, members of the Israeli government have been pushing for the expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Nearly 700,000 Jewish settlers live in more than 250 Jewish settlements and outposts across the West Bank and East Jerusalem in violation of international law.
The US, a close ally of Israel, has repeatedly criticized Israel for settlement expansion in the West Bank, with the Biden administration saying that increasing Israeli settlement activity “is an obstacle to the achievement of a two-state solution”.
However, the US has also moved to shield Israel from condemnation over this settlement policy. In February, Washington said it would oppose a resolution that would condemn Israeli settlements at the UN Security Council.
Biden said in an interview with CNN on Sunday that one of the issues regarding the West Bank is that the current Israeli government has ministers pushing for settlement expansion.
“It’s not all Israel now in the West Bank – all Israel’s problem – but they are a part of the problem, and particularly those individuals in the cabinet who say, ‘We can settle anywhere we want. [The Palestinians] have no right to be here, etc’,” Biden told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.
Two of the far-right members of Israel’s governing coalition, Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, said on Monday that Israel has a right to build settlements anywhere in the West Bank, with Ben-Gvir saying: “We will not compromise on any hill, on any outpost. This is ours.”