Impunity persists for alleged violations in Occupied Palestinian Territories, UN Human Rights Council hears

26 February 2020

Justice is still absent for Palestinian demonstrators shot by Israeli soldiers during weekly protests in Gaza, the UN Human Rights Council heard on Wednesday.

“Impunity continues to prevail,” the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in a report on accountability for alleged violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) since 2008, including during large-scale protests beginning in March 2018 along the Gaza-Israel fence. 

According to the report, which is produced annually at the Council’s request, and was presented today by UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ilze Brands Kehris, Israeli security forces killed 131 Palestinians throughout the OPT from November 2018 to October 2019: 103 men, five women and 23 children. 

Over the same timeline, 11 Israelis were killed by Palestinians, including one girl. 

Persistent lack of accountability 

Suggesting a lack of accountability for the killing and injuring of civilians, the report highlights the killing of double-amputee Ibrahim Abu Thoryah on 15 December 2017.   

A double amputee in a wheelchair, Abu Thoryah was shot dead with live ammunition to the head.  

According to media reports, the Israeli military contacted Palestinian officials to obtain the bullet that had hit Mr. Thoryah, but their request was denied.  

They then concluded that there was no evidence that the man had been killed by direct Israeli fire.   

“There was no indication that Mr. Abu Thoryah had posed an imminent threat of death or serious injury at the moment he was killed,” the report states. “His physical disability must have been clearly visible to the person who shot him, in the front of the head, some 15 to 20 metres from the fence.” 

Questioning the efficacy of the accountability system in place by the Israeli military despite its assertion that allegations of misconduct are investigated effectively and thoroughly, the report says that 19 months after the start of the Great March of Return, the Israeli military system had delivered only one sentence in relation to “possible unlawful acts” by Israeli security forces. 

“The persisting lack of accountability for possible unlawful acts committed against Palestinians perpetuates a cycle of impunity that facilitates the occurrence of further violations,” the report states.  

While noting that Israeli soldiers had used live ammunition against protesters, paramedics and journalists covering the demonstrations, Commissioners highlighted that little was done by the Great March organisers to keep children out of harm’s way. 

“The Higher National Commission for the Great March of Return continued to provide buses to shuttle demonstrators, including children, from different places in the Gaza Strip to the five demarcated demonstration sites along the eastern border,” the report insists.  

“Witnesses reported that only on very rare occasions were children prevented from boarding the buses, and then only when the children under the age of nine.” 

 

 

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