Robinson issues report on human rights situation in occupied Palestinian territory

Robinson issues report on human rights situation in occupied Palestinian territory

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, today released a report on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory that was based on information from concerned organizations in the region since her visiting mission had not been given clearance to travel to the area.

"It is indisputable that there has been extensive loss of life on the Palestinian as well as the Israeli side," Mary Robinson writes in her report to the Geneva-based UN Commission on Human Rights, which earlier this month asked her to lead a mission to the area. She said recent suicide bombings by Palestinians had killed 62 people and injured 363, while the Palestine Red Crescent Society reported that Israeli troops had killed 217 Palestinians and wounded 498 from 29 March to 21 April. "These figures will still require confirmation since there has not been access to all areas," she notes.

Citing information from the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the High Commissioner says the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) caused extensive damage to hundreds of private homes. "UNRWA estimates that in the Jenin Camp 800 dwellings have been destroyed and many more damaged, leaving 4,000 to 5,000 people homeless."

While the number of Palestinians under arrest or in detention remains uncertain, Mrs. Robinson points to reports by B'Tselem, an Israeli non-governmental organization, that over 2,500 persons were being held.

The report documents widespread concern over the lack of access to medical assistance in the occupied Palestinian territory as well as obstacles to humanitarian deliveries there. It also examines Israel's response to these accusations.

The High Commissioner appeals for all in a position to do so to help the two sides return to the negotiation table for a peaceful outcome. "The military operation must be brought to an end," she stresses. "Equally, all attacks against Israeli civilians must end."

Mrs. Robinson also emphasizes the need for "accountability on all sides for what has happened," warning that a failure to investigate widespread allegations of serious human rights abuses "risks undermining the integrity of the international human rights system." She offers her Office's assistance in facilitating a dialogue between the two sides aimed at enhancing mutual understanding.