September 28, 2006
70. In effect, the Palestinian people have been subjected to economic sanctions – the first time an occupied people have been so treated. This is difficult to understand. Israel is in violation of major Security Council and General Assembly resolutions dealing with unlawful territorial change and the violation of human rights and has failed to implement the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, yet it escapes the imposition of sanctions. Instead the Palestinian people, rather than the Palestinian Authority, have been subjected to possibly the most rigorous form of international sanctions imposed in modern times. It is interesting to recall that the Western States refused to impose meaningful economic sanctions on South Africa to compel it to abandon apartheid on the grounds that this would harm the black people of South Africa. No such sympathy is extended to the Palestinian people or their human rights….
See also a related Ha’aretz article on John Dugard’s report: UN human rights envoy says Gaza a prison for Palestinians and a September, 2006 B’Tselem report entitled “Act of Vengeance: Israel’s Bombing of the Gaza Power Plant and its Effects”
Report PDF: In English | In French | In Arabic | In Russian | In Spanish
5 September 2006
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Note by the Secretary-General
The Secretary-General has the honour to transmit to the members of the Human Rights
Council the report on violations of international humanitarian law and human rights in the
Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, submitted by John Dugard, Special Rapporteur,
pursuant to Human Rights Council decision 1/106.
The Secretary-General draws the attention of the members of the Human Rights Council
to the fact that this report is based on a visit undertaken by the Special Rapporteur from 9 to
17 June 2006, prior to the adoption of the above-mentioned decision by the Council.
The central feature of this report is the conflict in and the siege of Gaza. On
25 June 2006, following the capture of Corporal Gilad Shalit by Palestinian militants and the
continued firing of home-made Qassam rockets into Israel, Israel commenced repeated military
incursions into Gaza and regular shelling of Gaza, causing numerous deaths and injuries,
destruction of homes, agricultural land and infrastructure and resulting in the large-scale
violation of human rights and international humanitarian law. In particular, Israel has violated
the prohibition on the indiscriminate use of military power against civilians and civilian objects.
The situation in the West Bank has also deteriorated substantially.
The Wall presently under construction in the Palestinian territory is now portrayed by the
new Government of Israel as a political measure designed to annex 10 per cent of Palestinian
land situated between the Green Line and the Wall, where some 76 per cent of the Israeli settler
population lives. When the Wall is completed, an estimated 60,500 West Bank Palestinians
living in 42 villages and towns will be enclosed in the closed zone between the Wall and the
Green Line. The 500,000 Palestinians living near the Wall require permits to cross it, and it is
estimated that 40 per cent of the applications for permits are refused.
Israel continues its policy of the de-Palestinization of Jerusalem. The Wall is constructed
in such a way as to place about a quarter of East Jerusalem’s Palestinian population of 230,000
in the West Bank. Such persons will in future require permits to access their employment and to
visit friends, hospitals and religious sites in Jerusalem.
Settlements continue to expand, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The
settler population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem now numbers over 440,000.
The low wall under construction in south Hebron will make it difficult for Palestinian
communities located between the low wall and the Green Line to access their lands, schools and
The number of checkpoints has increased, from 376 in August 2005 to over 500. Permits
for travel between different parts of the West Bank are granted sparingly and require Palestinians
to subject themselves to arbitrary bureaucratic procedures. Nablus and Jenin, in particular, have
been seriously affected by checkpoints, and are today in effect imprisoned cities. It seems that
the main purpose of many checkpoints is to make Palestinians constantly aware of Israeli control
of their lives and to humiliate them in the process.
The demolition of houses remains a regular feature of the occupation. It has now become
the practice to destroy houses in the course of effecting arrests in policing operations. The
destruction of houses for reasons other than military necessity is prohibited by international
The family life of Palestinians is undermined by a number of Israeli laws and practices.
Recently, the Israeli High Court upheld a law which prohibits Israeli Arabs who marry
Palestinians from living together with them in Israel. The Wall in Jerusalem has also resulted in
the separation of families.
More than 10,000 Palestinians, including women and children, are imprisoned in Israeli
The humanitarian situation in both the West Bank and Gaza is appalling. At least 4 out
of 10 Palestinians live under the official poverty line of less than US$ 2.10 a day and
unemployment stands at least 40 per cent. To aggravate matters, the public sector, which
accounts for 23 per cent of total employment in the Palestinian territory, is employed but unpaid
as a result of the withholding of funds owed to the Palestinian Authority by the Government of
Israel, amounting to $50 to 60 million per month. In addition, the United States and the
European Union have cut off funds to the Palestinian Authority on the ground that Hamas,
the party elected to Government in January 2006, is listed under their laws as a terrorist
organization. Non-governmental organizations working with the Palestinian Authority have
likewise been affected by restrictions on funding.
In effect, the Palestinian people have been subjected to economic sanctions – the first
time an occupied people have been so treated. This continues, despite the fact that Israel is itself
in violation of numerous Security Council and General Assembly resolutions and has failed to
implement the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of 9 July 2004.
The Quartet itself has no regard for the advisory opinion and fails even to refer to it in its
public utterances. This has substantially undermined the reputation of the United Nations in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory. Although Palestinians have a high regard for dedicated and
committed United Nations workers on the ground, they have serious misgivings about the role of
the United Nations in New York and Geneva.
|I. INTRODUCTION||1 – 5||6|
|II. THE QUESTION OF OCCUPATION||6||7|
|III. THE PRESENT CRISIS IN GAZA||7 – 36||7|
|A. Bombardment of public utilities||13 – 15||9|
|B. Bombardment of public buildings and facilities||16||9|
|C. Closure of borders||17 – 20||9|
|E. Military incursions causing death and destruction||22 – 24||10|
|F. Shelling and sonic booms||25 – 26||11|
|G. Targeted assassinations||27||11|
|H. Terrorism by telephone||28||11|
|I. Hospitals and health||29 – 31||11|
|J. Food and poverty||32 – 33||12|
|K. Legal assessment of Israeli action||34 – 36||12|
|IV. THE WEST BANK||37 – 41||13|
|V. JERUSALEM AND THE WALL||42 – 46||14|
|VI. SETTLEMENTS||47 – 52||15|
|VII. SOUTH HEBRON AND THE “MINI-WALL”||53 – 54||16|
|VIII. THE JORDAN VALLEY||55 – 57||17|
|IX. HOUSE DEMOLITIONS||58 – 59||17|
|X. CHECKPOINTS||60 – 62||18|
|XI. SEPARATION OF FAMILIES||63||18|
|XII. ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE||64 – 65||19|
|XIII. THE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS AND FUNDING OF THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY||66 – 70||19|
|XIV. THE ADVISORY OPINION OF THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE AND THE UNITED NATIONS||71 – 73||21|
|XV. CONCLUSION||74 – 76||21|
1. I visited the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and Israel from 9 to 17 June 2006 in
order to compile information for my report to the Human Rights Council at its forthcoming
session in September 2006. Shortly after I left OPT a serious crisis erupted in Gaza following
the capture by Palestinian militants of an Israeli soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit. The Israeli
reaction to this development prompted the convening of a special session of the Council to
discuss the situation in OPT. At the special session, held on 5 and 6 July 2006, the Council
decided to send a fact-finding mission headed by myself to OPT so that I might report on the
most recent developments. In order to carry out this mission it was necessary to obtain the
consent of the Government of Israel. The Government, however, declined to agree to a visit by
the fact-finding mission. The present report is therefore written to apprise the Council of the
situation affecting human rights in the region in the context of my visit and subsequent
developments in OPT which gave rise to the request for a fact-finding mission. Inevitably, as
I was not able to visit the region in July, information on these developments up to 9 August 2006
has been obtained from secondary sources – press reports, reports of non-governmental
organizations (NGOs), United Nations publications, etc.
2. During my mission I visited Jerusalem, Gaza, villages in the vicinity of Jerusalem which
have been seriously affected by the construction of the Wall, Ramallah, Hebron and communities
in the South Hebron Hills, Bethlehem and the Wall near Rachel’s Tomb, the village of Wallaja,
where house demolitions have occurred, the Jordan Valley, including Jericho, and communities
whose human rights are affected by Israeli policies and practices, Nablus, including the Balata
refugee camp, the village of Jayyous on the perimeter of the Wall and farming communities
living close to the Wall, and checkpoints around the city of Nablus and roads in its vicinity.
3. During the visit I spoke with a wide range of persons, both Palestinian and Israeli, about
violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. I delivered a lecture at the
Hebrew University in Jerusalem sponsored by the Minerva Centre for Human Rights and the
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The lecture, which was attended by more
than 100 persons, examined controversial questions of humanitarian law relating to the conflict
in OPT. Unfortunately, I had no contact with Israeli officials as the Government of Israel does
not recognize my mandate. The Government was, however, aware of my visit and placed no
obstacles in the way of the visit.
4. The eruption of violence in Gaza following the capture of Corporal Shalit and the
arrest of members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Palestinian Authority (see
paragraph 11 below) was followed by Israel’s invasion of Lebanon and large-scale violence in
Lebanon, Israel and Gaza. It is not the purpose of this report to comment on events in Lebanon
and along Israel’s northern borders, as that falls outside my mandate. It will, however, fully
examine the situation in Gaza. It should be mentioned that the events in Lebanon to a large
extent have overshadowed violence in Gaza and along its borders.
5. In the present report “the Wall” is used instead of “barrier” or “fence”. This term was
carefully and deliberately used by the International Court of Justice in its 2004 advisory opinion
on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
of 9 July 2006. I see no reason to depart from this language.
II. THE QUESTION OF OCCUPATION
6. Before turning to the substance of my report, there is a preliminary matter of concern
which I wish to address. This is the question of occupation. The Government of Israel prefers
to avoid acknowledging the fact that OPT, that is both the West Bank and Gaza, including
East Jerusalem, is occupied territory. Instead, it prefers to speak about the “disputed territories”
and to assert that the withdrawal of settlers and the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) from Gaza in
August 2005 has terminated the occupation of Gaza. This is a misconception of both law and
fact. The International Court of Justice, the Security Council and the High Court of Israel itself
have all asserted that OPT is and remains occupied territory and that, as such, it is governed by a
special legal regime. According to this regime, Israel is bound to comply with both international
humanitarian law and human rights law in its treatment of Palestinians. It is, admittedly, an
unusual occupation in that it has continued for almost four decades. The protracted nature of
the occupation does not, however, reduce the responsibility of the occupying Power. On the
contrary, it increases its responsibility. The length of the occupation has led some to characterize
the situation as one of colonialism or apartheid. Although Israel’s conduct at times resembles
that of a colonial Power or an apartheid regime, it is more correct to classify Israel as an
occupying Power in OPT and to judge its actions in accordance with the international law rules
applicable to occupation.
III. THE PRESENT CRISIS IN GAZA
7. The question whether Gaza remains an occupied territory is now of academic interest
only. In the course of the cynically named “Operation Summer Rains” IDF has not only asserted
its control in Gaza by means of heavy shelling, but has also done so by means of a military
8. In August 2005 Israel withdrew its settlers and armed forces from Gaza. Statements by
the Government of Israel that the withdrawal ended the occupation of Gaza are grossly
inaccurate. Even before the commencement of “Operation Summer Rains”, Gaza remained
under the effective control of Israel. This control was manifested in a number of ways. First,
Israel retained control of Gaza’s air space, sea space and external borders. Although a special
arrangement was made for the opening of the Rafah crossing to Egypt, to be monitored by
European Union personnel, all other crossings remained largely closed. The closure of the
Karni crossing for goods for substantial periods had particularly serious consequences for Gaza
as it resulted in a denial of access to foodstuffs, medicines and fuel. A proposed scheme which
would have allowed Gazans to visit family in the West Bank by means of bus convoys was never
implemented. In effect, following Israel’s withdrawal Gaza became a sealed-off, imprisoned
society. The effectiveness of Israel’s control was further demonstrated by sonic booms caused
by its overflying aircraft, designed to terrorize the population of Gaza, regular shelling of homes
and fields along the border and targeted assassinations of militants, which, as in the past, were
carried out with little regard for innocent civilian bystanders. In one incident in June 2006, a
family of seven was killed by IDF shelling while picnicking on a Gaza beach. The actions of
IDF in respect of Gaza have clearly demonstrated that modern technology allows an occupying
Power to effectively control a territory even without a military presence.
9. Writing in Haaretz on 7 July 2006, the Israeli columnist Gideon Levy summed up the
situation in the following language:
“The Israel Defence Forces departure from Gaza … did almost nothing to change the
living conditions for the residents of the Strip. Gaza is still a prison and its inhabitants
are still doomed to live in poverty and oppression. Israel closes them off from the sea,
the air and land, except for a limited safety valve at the Rafah crossing. They cannot visit
their relatives in the West Bank or look for work in Israel, upon which the Gazan
economy has been dependent for some forty years. Sometimes goods can be transported,
sometimes not. Gaza has no chance of escaping its poverty under these conditions.
Nobody will invest in it, nobody can develop it, nobody can feel free in it. Israel left the
cage, threw away the keys and left the residents to their bitter fate. Now, less than a year
after the disengagement, it is going back, with violence and force.”
10. Even before the start of “Operation Summer Rains” Israel had already tightened its
control of Gaza in response to the election of Hamas to the Palestinian Authority in
January 2006. I visited Gaza on 11 June 2006. For security reasons, I was not permitted to stay
overnight, as had previously been my practice during visits to OPT. I visited the Al-Aqsa
Martyrs Hospital in Gaza and spoke with the director of hospital services and senior medical
practitioners. It was clear that the hospital services faced a crisis resulting from the non-payment
of staff salaries and the restrictions placed on the supply of medicines and vaccines through the
Karni crossing. It seemed clear to me that the Government of Israeli had embarked upon a siege
in order to bring about regime change. In the process little attention was being paid to human
rights, as shelling and sonic booms violated the fundamental rights to life and human dignity,
and even less attention was paid to the constraints of international humanitarian law; it was
already clear that collective punishment was to be the instrument used to bring about regime
11. On 25 June 2006 a group of Palestinian militants attacked a military base near the
Israeli-Egyptian border, which left two Palestinians and two IDF soldiers dead. In retreating,
they took Corporal Gilad Shalit with them as captive. They demanded the release of the women
and children in Israeli jails in return for his release. This act, together with the continued
Qassam rocket fire into Israel, unleashed a savage response from the Government of Israeli.
In the first place, it arrested 8 Hamas Cabinet ministers and 26 members of the Palestinian
Legislative Council in Ramallah. At the time of writing this report, most of them remained in
detention. While Israel claims that they are being held because of their support for terrorist
activities, it is difficult to resist the notion that they are being held as hostages, in violation of article 34 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilians in Time of War
(Fourth Geneva Convention). This impression is confirmed by the debate within the
Government over what to do with them. The Shin Bet security service suggested holding
them as bargaining chips under the Unlawful Combatants Law. It seems, however, that the
Attorney-General, Menachem Mazuz, has insisted that legal proceedings be initiated against
them for membership in a terrorist organization (see Haaretz, 30 June 2006). The issue of the
arrest of members of Hamas has been aggravated by the arrest of Aziz Dweik, Speaker of the
Palestinian Legislative Council, on 5 August 2006 and reports that he has been injured in the
course of interrogation.
12. Israel’s assault on and siege of Gaza in the course of “Operation Summer Rains” has
taken many forms, described in the following paragraphs.
A. Bombardment of public utilities
13. On 28 June 2006 the Israeli Air Force (IAF) destroyed all six transformers of the only
domestic power plant in the Gaza Strip. This plant supplied 43 per cent of Gaza’s daily
electricity. The rest is provided by the Israel Electrical Corporation. Approximately
700,000 Gazans, out of a population of 1.4 million, initially were without electricity. Currently,
the Gaza Electrical Distribution Company (GEDCO) is load-sharing the remaining electricity
supply from Israel, but the supply of power to households across the Gaza Strip is intermittent.
As most of Gaza’s water wells are powered through the national electrical grid, which has been
destroyed, generators are being used to power wells, and the daily water supply to Gazan
households has been reduced. Israel’s military operations have also destroyed the main water
pipelines and sewerage networks. In addition, the frequent closure of the Nahal Oz pipeline, the
only pipeline bringing fuel into the Gaza Strip, has affected the use of backup generators to
power regular water supplies.
14. On 19 July IAF bombed power transformers during an attack on the el-Maghazi refugee
camp, cutting off power to the whole of the central Gaza Strip.
15. The substantial reduction of the electricity and fuel supply, together with the disruption
of water supplies, has impacted severely on the daily life of Palestinians who are without light at
night and electricity to do their cooking. Moreover, it is impossible to pump water to the upper
levels of multi-storey buildings. The sewers threaten to overflow. Hospitals have been radically
affected and are forced to use generators to power life-saving equipment because of power
B. Bombardment of public buildings and facilities
16. Israeli war planes have deliberately targeted public buildings in Gaza. The buildings
housing the Ministries of the Interior, Foreign Affairs and the National Economy and the Office
of the Prime Minister have all been destroyed. Such action serves no security purpose and can
only be construed as an attempt to undermine the institutions of Government. Educational
institutions have also been destroyed. Six bridges linking Gaza City with the central Gaza Strip
have been destroyed, as have a number of roads. On 28 June IDF occupied Gaza International
Airport and destroyed large parts of it.
C. Closure of borders
17. Although the Rafah crossing is not directly controlled by Israel, IDF prevented European
observers responsible for staffing the crossing from reaching it. It has, therefore, been closed
since 25 June, only opening for two brief periods. The closure of the Rafah crossing for three
weeks in July 2006 left more than 3,000 Palestinians stranded on the Egyptian side of the border
in harsh conditions, including some 578 people deemed to be “urgent humanitarian cases”, who
had been referred for medical treatment abroad. Eight Palestinians died as a result of their being
denied proper medical treatment, shelter and water at the crossing.
18. The closure of the Rafah crossing has also had serious consequences for Palestinians on
the Gaza side, particularly those living abroad who were in Gaza for family visits. Serious
questions arise about the role of the EU monitors in this connection. They are in charge of the
supervision of the crossing under the terms of an agreement of 15 November 2005 between the
Palestinian Authority and Israel, an agreement facilitated by the United States. It is surely
incumbent upon the EU monitors to show some courage and compassion in carrying out their
supervisory role and not simply to bow to the dictates of the Government of Israel.
19. The Karni commercial crossing has been intermittently closed. The import of some food
and medical supplies to Gaza has been permitted but the export of goods has been severely
20. Israeli naval vessels have prevented Palestinian fishing along the coast, with the result
that fish is no longer available in local markets.
21. Since 25 June 2006 some 184 Palestinians (at least half of whom were civilians) have
been killed, including 42 children. Some 720 people have been seriously wounded, including
168 children and 21 women. One Israeli soldier has been killed and 25 Israelis injured,
including 11 injured by home-made rockets fired from Gaza.
E. Military incursions causing death and destruction
22. Since 25 June 2006 IDF has made numerous and repeated incursions into the Gaza Strip,
killing civilians and destroying houses. The most serious incursions have been into
Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahia, Sajiyeh, Deir el-Balah, the el-Maghazi refugee camp, Rafah and
Khan Younis. In the course of these raids, carried out by tanks and bulldozers, houses have been
seized and transformed into military bases. These houses have been severely damaged and
several hundred houses have been destroyed. Schools run by the United Nations Relief and
Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) have been attacked and
damaged. Olive and citrus trees have been uprooted and farmland destroyed in land-levelling
operations. Roads, water pipes and electricity and telephone poles have been damaged.
Many families have been compelled to flee their houses, and it is estimated that some
3,400 Palestinians are presently being sheltered by UNRWA as a result of the military action.
Despite the prohibition on the use of civilians as human shields imposed by the High Court of
Israel, IDF has detained civilians and used them as human shields during bulldozing and
detention operations. Military incursions have been accompanied by heavy shelling and the
bombing of houses, resulting in the death of many civilians.
23. The attacks on the el-Maghazi refugee camp from 19 to 21 July 2006 and the attack
on Rafah at the beginning of August are examples of typical Israeli incursions. In the first,
19 Palestinians were killed, including 4 children and 1 woman, and 125 were injured, most of
them unarmed civilians. Four houses were completely destroyed and nine were partially
destroyed. In addition, agricultural crops were levelled and the electrical, water and road
infrastructure was destroyed. In the second incursion, 16 Palestinians were killed, including
10 civilians, and 39 were injured by shrapnel and suffered burns; 4 children were killed
and 13 injured.
24. There has been heavy fighting between Palestinian militants and IDF. IDF has used
tanks and bulldozers, supported by helicopters that have fired flares and machine guns to provide
cover for ground forces.
F. Shelling and sonic booms
25. Israel has maintained unrelenting shelling of the Gaza Strip since 25 June. Several
thousand shells have been fired, an estimated 200-250 each day. IAF had conducted at least
220 aerial bombings as of 3 August and fighter jets have fired air-to-surface missiles. This has
been accompanied by F-16s flying low and breaking the sound barrier over Gaza, causing sonic
booms that are as loud as the actual bombardments. These sonic booms have caused widespread
terror among the population, particularly children. If terrorism has any meaning, then it is surely
this. A doctor from Gaza has written about the effects of sonic booms and artillery shelling on
her 13-year-old daughter in the following words:
“My daughter is restless, panicked and afraid to go out, yet frustrated because she cannot
see her friends. When Israeli fighter planes fly by day and night, the sound is terrifying.
My daughter usually jumps into bed with me, shivering with fear. Then both of us end
up crouching on the floor. My heart races, yet I try to pacify my daughter, to make her
feel safe. But when the bombs sound, I flinch and scream. My daughter feels my fear
and knows that we need to pacify each other. I am a doctor, and mature, middle-aged
woman, but with sonic booming, I become hysterical” (Dr. Mona El-Farra, The Boston
Globe, 10 July 2006).
26. Palestinians are not blameless when it comes to shelling. Militants continue to fire
Qassam home-made rockets indiscriminately into Israel, injuring Israeli civilians, damaging
civilian infrastructure and causing fear among the civilian population living near the Gaza
border. It is estimated that eight to nine rockets are fired each day.
G. Targeted assassinations
27. Targeted assassinations have continued, with the inevitable “collateral damage” to
H. Terrorism by telephone
28. The Israeli military has now resorted to a new method of psychological terror.
Palestinians in Gaza are telephoned by Israeli military intelligence agents and warned that their
houses will be blown up in less than one hour. This threat is sometimes carried out and
sometimes not. This tactic has inevitably caused psychological distress and panic amongst
Palestinians. Palestinians forced to leave their homes in this way have become internally
displaced persons forced to live in UNRWA school premises.
I. Hospitals and health
29. Israeli forces demolished the outside wall of the new emergency hospital in Beit Hanoun.
Nevertheless, the hospital continues to function but is seriously impaired. Generators are being
used to operate X-ray departments and operation theatres. Referrals abroad of patients from the Gaza Strip have been severely affected by the present crisis. As noted above, checkpoints have
been closed to patients and permits denied. Particularly serious problems have arisen in respect
of the Rafah border crossing to Egypt. Essential drugs are also in short supply. On 27 July the
Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health reported that 67 of the 473 items on the list of essential
drugs were out of stock.
30. Public health is endangered by lack of safe drinking water and sewage leakage and
reported cases of diarrhoea have increased by 163 per cent compared with the same period last
year. It is feared that communicable diseases like cholera and poliomyelitis will reappear.
31. Many Palestinians have suffered burns concentrated on the lower body, which has
resulted in a high number of amputations. The Palestinian Health Ministry has called for an
independent inquiry into this phenomenon.
J. Food and poverty
32. The poverty level in Gaza stands at 75 per cent. This is mainly attributable to the siege.
Food insecurity results in part from the absence of purchasing power as few people have
sufficient money today to cover their family’s basic food needs. Food prices have inflated and
supplies have been reduced as a result of the current operation. As noted above, fish is no longer
available as a result of the sea blockade. Wheat flour mills, factories producing food and
bakeries have been forced to reduce their production owing to power shortages. Furthermore,
the loss of capacity to preserve perishable food in the Gaza heat results in high food losses.
Supplies of sugar, dairy products and milk are running extremely low as commercial supplies
from Israel are limited.
33. As indicated above, water supplies have been seriously affected as a result of the
destruction of the Gaza power plant and the bombing of pipelines. Consequently, drinking water
is in short supply. UNRWA and ICRC have been compelled to supply water by means of water
K. Legal assessment of Israeli action
34. Israel’s actions must be assessed in terms of both human rights norms and international
humanitarian law. According to the International Court of Justice in its advisory opinion cited
above, both these regimes are applicable to Israel’s conduct in the Occupied Palestinian
35. Israel has violated a number of rights proclaimed in the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights, particularly the right to life (art. 6), freedom from torture, inhuman or
degrading treatment (art. 7), the freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention (art. 9), freedom of
movement (art. 12) and the right of children to protection (art. 24). It has also violated rights
contained in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, notably “the
right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and for his family, including
adequate food, clothing and housing”, freedom from hunger, and the right to food (art. 11) and
the right to health (art. 12).
36. Israel has, in addition, violated the most fundamental rules of international humanitarian
law, which constitute war crimes in terms of article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and
article 85 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating
to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflict (Protocol I). These include direct
attacks against civilians and civilian objects and attacks which fail to distinguish between
military targets and civilians or civilian objects (arts. 48, 51 (4) and 52 (1) of Protocol I); the
excessive use of force arising from disproportionate attacks on civilians and civilian objects
(arts. 51 (4) and 51 (5) of Protocol I); the spreading of terror among the civilian population
(art. 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and art. 51 (2) of Protocol I) and the destruction of
property not justified by military necessity (art. 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention). Above
all, the Government of Israel has violated the prohibition on collective punishment of an
occupied people contained in article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The indiscriminate
and excessive use of force against civilians and civilian objects, the destruction of electricity and
water supplies, the bombardment of public buildings, the restrictions on freedom of movement
and the consequences that these actions have had upon public health, food, family life and the
psychological well-being of the Palestinian people constitute a gross form of collective
punishment. The capture of Corporal Gilad Shalit and the continued firing of Qassam rockets
into Israel cannot be condoned. On the other hand, they cannot justify the drastic punishment of
a whole people in the way that Israel has done.
IV. THE WEST BANK
37. Many of Israel’s policies and practices in the West Bank seriously impinge upon the
human rights of Palestinians. The Wall presently under construction in Palestinian territory,
checkpoints and roadblocks, settlements, an arbitrary permit system, the pervasive practice of
house demolitions, targeted assassinations, and arrests and imprisonment violate a wide range of
civil and political rights. Economic and social rights have also suffered from the humanitarian
crisis resulting from the occupation.
38. The Wall that Israel is presently building largely in Palestinian territory is clearly illegal.
The International Court of Justice in its advisory opinion 4 asserted that it is contrary to
international law and that Israel is under obligation to discontinue construction of the Wall
and to dismantle those sections that have already been built forthwith. On 20 July 2004
the General Assembly adopted resolution ES-10/15 by 150 votes in favour, 6 against and
10 abstentions, in which it demanded that Israel comply with its legal obligations identified
in the advisory opinion. The Israeli High Court of Justice, in a judgement delivered in
September 2005 in Mara’abe v. the Prime Minister of Israel (HCJ 7957/04), dismissed the
advisory opinion, arguing that the International Court of Justice had failed to have regard to the
security considerations that had prompted the construction of the Wall. The basis of this
judgement has now been undermined by the admission of the Israeli Government that the Wall is
designed to serve a political purpose and not an exclusively security purpose. The admission
that the Wall has in part been built to include West Bank settlements within the Wall and under
Israel’s direct protection has led the High Court to rebuke the Government for misleading it in
the Mara’abe hearing and other challenges to the legality of the Wall (see Haaretz, 14 and 16 June 2006). That the purpose of the Wall is to acquire land surrounding West Bank
settlements and to include settlements themselves within Israel can no longer be seriously
challenged. The fact that 76 per cent of the West Bank settler population is enclosed within
the Wall bears this out. The Government’s present policy to unilaterally disengage from the
West Bank or to realign Israel’s borders is a thin disguise for the annexation by Israel of the
territory between the Green Line and the Wall, amounting to some 10 per cent of Palestinian
39. On 30 April 2006 the Israeli Government revised the route of the Wall. It will now
be 703 km long when completed, rather than 670 km. At present over 50 per cent of the Wall
has been completed. When it is finished, an estimated 60,500 West Bank Palestinians living in
42 villages and towns will reside in the closed zone between the Wall and the Green Line. More
than 500,000 Palestinians living within 1 km of the Wall live on the eastern side but need to
cross it to get to their farms and jobs and to maintain family connections. Eighty per cent of the
Wall is built within the Palestinian territory itself and in order to incorporate the Ariel settlement block, it extends some 22 km into the West Bank. At present, there are some 73 gates in the Wall, but only 38 of them are accessible to Palestinians, and only to those with the correct
40. A host of obstacles are placed in the way of obtaining a permit. Bureaucratic procedures
for obtaining permits are humiliating and obstructive. Although precise figures are not available,
it seems that the number of permits refused may conservatively be estimated at 40 per cent.
Reasons given for refusing permits range from security to failure to establish land ownership.
The latter ground is now more frequently used by Israeli authorities as it has become clear that
Palestinians, whose land ownership dates from a chaotic Ottoman system of land tenure, are
frequently unable to prove ownership to the satisfaction of Israeli authorities determined to deny
permits. The difficulties and humiliation occasioned by the process of applying for permits
furthermore deters many Palestinians from applying. The fact that the opening and closure of
gates leading to the closed zone are regulated in a highly arbitrary manner and frequently do not
open as scheduled aggravates the situation. Moreover, tractors and farm vehicles are frequently
not allowed access to the closed zone, which means that farmers must walk or use donkeys to
reach their land and to bring out their produce.
41. Obstacles placed in the way of access to the closed zone have seriously affected farming
in this zone. At a time when many Palestinians are returning to the land as a result of the
non-payment of salaries to civil servants and the closure of many private businesses in the cities,
the permit system seriously impacts upon Palestinian employment and livelihood.
V. JERUSALEM AND THE WALL
42. At the outset of this discussion it is necessary to repeat that East Jerusalem is not part of
Israel. It is occupied territory subject to the Fourth Geneva Convention. This obvious truth was
noted by the International Court of Justice in its advisory opinion. Israel’s illegal attempt at
annexation of East Jerusalem must not be allowed to obscure this fact.
43. The 75 km Wall around Jerusalem (of which only 5 km are on the Green Line) is the
instrument being used to effect major changes in the city by seeking to ensure that Jerusalem assumes a predominantly Jewish character, which will undermine Palestinian claims to
Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestinian State. This is being done by constructing
the Wall through Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem and classifying neighbourhoods
on the eastern side of the Wall as belonging to the West Bank. This has serious implications for
the human rights of some 230,000 Palestinians living in Jerusalem.
44. First, while Palestinians living on the west side of the Wall will be allowed to retain their
Jerusalem identity documents, which entitle them to certain benefits, particularly in respect of
social security, they will find it increasingly difficult to travel to cities in the West Bank such as Ramallah and Bethlehem, where many of them are employed. Moreover, if they elect to reside
in the West Bank in order to be nearer to their places of work, they risk losing their Jerusalem
identity documents and the right to live in Jerusalem because under Israel’s so-called centre of
life policy, Palestinians must prove that they currently live in the city of East Jerusalem to
maintain their Jerusalem residency rights.
45. Secondly, those relegated to the West Bank as a result of the construction of the Wall,
who number about a quarter of the city’s population of 230,000, will lose their Jerusalem identity
documents and the attendant benefits. They will also require a permit to enter Jerusalem, and
will be allowed to enter the city by only 4 of the 12 crossings in the Wall, which will
considerably increase their commuting time and impede their access to schools, universities,
hospitals, religious sites and places of employment.
46. The construction of the Wall in order to achieve the Judaization of Jerusalem is a cynical
exercise in social engineering that imposes severe hardships on all aspects of Palestinian life.
47. Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal. They violate article 49, paragraph 6, of
the Fourth Geneva Convention and their illegality has been confirmed by the International Court
of Justice in the advisory opinion on the Wall. The Israeli High Court has consistently refused to
pronounce on the legality of settlements, which indicates that even Israel’s own High Court is
unwilling to confer legitimacy on settlements.
48. Despite the illegality of settlements and the unanimous condemnation of settlements by
the international community, the Israeli Government persists in allowing settlements to grow.
Sometimes settlement expansion occurs openly and with the full approval of the Israeli
Government. For instance, in 2006 the Government approved the expansion of the settlements
of Givat Ze’ev, Kfar Sava, Maskiyot and Beitar Ilit (see Haaretz, 21 May 2006). More
frequently, expansion takes place stealthily under the guise of “natural growth”, which has
resulted in Israeli settlements growing at an average rate of 5.5 per cent compared with the
average growth rate in Israeli cities of 1.7 per cent. Sometimes settlements expand unlawfully
in terms of Israeli law, but no attempt is made to enforce the law. Outposts are frequently
established and threats to remove them are not carried out.
49. As a result of this expansion, the settler population in the West Bank numbers
some 245,000 persons and that of East Jerusalem nearly 200,000. As indicated above, the Wall
is presently being built in both the West Bank and East Jerusalem to ensure that most settlements
will be enclosed within the Wall. Moreover, the three major settlement blocks of Gush Etzion,
Ma’aleh Adumim and Ariel will effectively divide Palestinian territory into cantons, thereby
destroying the territorial integrity of Palestine.
50. It is clear from statements of the Government of Israel that the major settlement blocks
are destined to remain part of Israel. On 3 May 2006 Prime Minister Olmert told the Knesset
that “The achievements of the settlement movement in main concentrations will forever be an
integral part of the sovereign state of Israel, along with Jerusalem our united capital” (see
Haaretz, 4 May 2006).
51. The Israeli Government’s proposed policy of “unilateral disengagement”, “convergence”
or “realignment” clearly envisages the unlawful annexation of large portions of Palestinian
territory. The euphemisms used to describe this policy should not be allowed to obscure this
52. Settler violence continues to be a serious problem. In June 2006 the Palestinian
Monitoring Group published the following account of settler violence which is illustrative of the
“Israeli settlers attempted to abduct a female university student in the district of Salfit; beat civilians in the city of Hebron as well as other civilians near the settlement of Ma’on; closed a road in the district of Qalqiliya; threw stones at civilian houses in
Tel Rumeida neighbourhood in the city of Hebron, and stole a water pump from a house
in Tel Rumeida. They burned two civilian vehicles and one truck in the town of Huwara;
set fire to wheat crops and olive trees in the villages of Salim near Nablus and Al Jab’a
near Bethlehem; and grazed sheep on cultivated land in the district of Hebron.”
VII. SOUTH HEBRON AND THE “MINI-WALL”
53. Plans to build the Wall in south Hebron have been abandoned. Instead, the projected
Wall will largely follow the Green Line. In its place Israel is constructing a “mini-wall” running
along the northern side of settler bypass roads in the region. This wall is approximately 1 m high
and is designed to prevent Palestinian vehicles from crossing onto the main road and to give
settlers unrestricted use of bypass roads. These restrictions will allow Jewish settlers to move
safely between settlements and further on to Israel without crossing Palestinian land.
Twenty-two Palestinian communities and over 1,900 Palestinians will be enclosed between the
road barrier or mini-wall and the Wall, at present being constructed along the Green Line. The
mini-wall will hinder the access of Palestinian shepherds and their 24,000 head of livestock to
grazing areas on the other side. The mini-wall will add to the hardships already experienced by
Palestinian communities living in south Hebron, which has inadequate clinics, schools and waste
supplies; water must be trucked in when summer begins and rain-fed systems start emptying.
The Israeli Government has refused to link Palestinian communities to its water system, which
provides water to settlers alone. To aggravate the situation, the Israeli Government refuses
permits to build houses.
54. The plight of Palestinian communities in south Hebron is illustrated by the experience
of the village of Tuwani, which I have visited on several occasions. This village is denied
electricity, water and sanitary units and is prohibited from building new houses. Moreover,
the villagers are subjected to settler violence from nearby Ma’on. Schoolchildren have to be
escorted by IDF to school in order to protect them from the settlers. The settlers are also
responsible for poisoning the land.
VIII. THE JORDAN VALLEY
55. Israel has abandoned earlier plans to build the Wall along the spine of OPT and to
formally appropriate the Jordan Valley in the same way as it has done along the western border
of OPT. But it has asserted its control over this region, constituting 25 per cent of the
West Bank, in much the same way as it has done over the closed zone between the Wall and
the Green Line on Palestine’s western border. The intention of Israel to remain permanently in
the Jordan Valley is clear from government statements and is further manifested, first, by
restrictions imposed on Palestinians and, second, by Israeli control and the increase in the
number of settlements in the Jordan Valley.
56. Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley must possess ID cards with a Jordan Valley
address. Only such persons may travel within the Jordan Valley without Israeli permits. Other
Palestinians, including non-resident landowners and workers, must obtain permits to enter the
Jordan Valley and in practice such permits are not valid for overnight stays, thereby necessitating
daily commuting and delays at checkpoints connecting the Jordan Valley with the rest of the
West Bank. This has led to the isolation of the Jordan Valley. Travel restrictions make it
difficult for farmers in the Jordan Valley to access markets in the West Bank as their produce is
frequently held up at checkpoints and perishes in the process. Attempts to sell such produce
along the roadside have failed as a result of the destruction of agricultural stalls along the road
57. Most of the land in the Jordan Valley is controlled by Jewish settlements or used as
military zones. Only 4 per cent of the Valley is accessible to 47,000 Palestinians for agricultural
and residential use. There are some 8,300 settlers living in the Jordan Valley and their number is
growing as a result of the resettlement of settlers from Gaza. Whereas Palestinians are without
electricity and water in most villages, settlers are linked to Israel’s electricity and water systems.
Moreover the 8,300 settlers living in the Jordan Valley consume more water each year than
the 47,000 Palestinians living in the region.
IX. HOUSE DEMOLITIONS
58. The demolition of houses is a regular feature of the occupation; and the bulldozer has
become a hated symbol of it. Traditionally, the occupying Power has demolished houses for
punitive reasons (where a resident of the house has committed a crime against Israel), military
necessity, or for failure to obtain a permit to build. In recent times houses have been demolished
for additional reasons: first, to make way for the Wall and second, to carry out arrests of wanted
persons. It will be recalled that last year the Israeli High Court forbade the use of Palestinian
civilians as human shields in arrest operations. Now, if a wanted person is suspected of being in
a particular house and refuses to surrender, the house is bulldozed. I myself witnessed the
manner in which houses are destroyed in this manner in the Balata refugee camp near Nablus.
59. For many years Israel has destroyed houses built without permission, arguing that in so
doing it is simply applying municipal housing laws in the same way as other developed societies
do. Such an argument fails to take account of two factors. First, an occupying Power is
constrained from destroying the houses of persons protected by international humanitarian law
(see article 23 (g) of the Hague Regulation respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land
annexed to the Hague Convention IV of 1907 and article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention).
This applies to Palestinian homes in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Second, permits
are refused in such an arbitrary manner, and are refused with such great regularity, that it has
become virtually impossible for Palestinians to obtain permits to build houses. The permit
system for Palestinians in East Jerusalem is administered in a completely different way than it
is administered in respect of Israelis. The discriminatory way in which the permit system is
implemented in East Jerusalem has recently been highlighted by Meir Margalit in Discrimination
in the Heart of the Holy City (2006).
60. The number of checkpoints, including roadblocks, earth mounds and trenches, has
increased from 376 in August 2005 to over 500. These checkpoints divide the West Bank into
four distinct areas: the north (Nablus, Jenin and Tulkarem), the centre (Ramallah), the south
(Hebron) and East Jerusalem. Within these areas further enclaves have been created by a system
of checkpoints and roadblocks. Cities are cut off from each other as a permit is required to travel
from one area to another and, again, permits are difficult to obtain. The rules relating to the
granting of permits constantly change, particularly with respect to the age of the persons to
whom permits are refused. Moreover, bureaucratic procedures for obtaining permits are
arbitrary and obstructive. This has worsened since Hamas came to power as those applying
for permits must now apply directly to the Israeli Civil Administration because the Israeli
Government refuses to cooperate with any Palestinian governmental authority. The permit
system also explains the economic decline of OPT as movement of goods and labour cannot
61. In June 2006 I visited the city of Nablus, which is now completely surrounded by
checkpoints which make entrance into and exit from the city impossible for most residents.
In effect, Nablus has become an imprisoned city.
62. Israel justifies checkpoints on security grounds. It is difficult to accept this justification
for most checkpoints. After all, the Wall provides an effective security barrier between Israel
and OPT and there is a line of checkpoints along the finger of land in which the Ariel settlement
block has been established which should adequately ensure the protection of Israelis.
Checkpoints in other areas, such as those surrounding Nablus, therefore seem to serve no
security purpose. This suggests that the main purpose of many checkpoints is in fact to make
Palestinians constantly aware of Israeli control of their lives and to humiliate them in the
XI. SEPARATION OF FAMILIES
63. The right to family life is recognized by all human rights conventions. In OPT it is
undermined by Israel in a number of ways. First, the Wall running between Jerusalem
neighbourhoods separates Palestinians with Jerusalem identity documents from those with
West Bank documents. Where husband and wife have separate documents they often have no
choice but to separate in order to allow the Jerusalem ID holder to retain his or her benefits.
Eighteen per cent of Palestinian households in Jerusalem are separated from the father and
12 per cent of households are separated from the mother. Secondly, the authorities have recently
embarked upon a policy of denying access to Palestinians with foreign passports. In previous
years, Palestinians with foreign passports have been allowed to live in the West Bank provided
that they renewed their visas every three months. This affects some 50,000 Palestinians living in
the West Bank who now face a denial of visas (see Haaretz, 10 July 2006). Thirdly, an Israeli
law on citizenship prohibits Palestinians who marry Israeli Arabs from living with their spouses
in Israel. This law was recently the subject of a controversial decision by the Israeli High Court
of Justice which held that the law, which does not apply to Jewish Israelis who marry foreigners,
was constitutional on the grounds of security. The Court reasoned that the State was entitled to
prevent Palestinians from living with their Israeli spouses in Israel because that might allow
Palestinians who threaten the security of Israel to enter the country.
XII. ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
64. Israel clearly does not ascribe to the policy of winning hearts and minds in the process
of administering justice; instead, it shows the iron fist, in the process of making arrests, the
treatment of arrested persons and the treatment of prisoners. The situation seems to have
worsened since Hamas was elected to office.
65. The making of arrests as has been shown, is frequently accompanied by the destruction
and trashing of property, beatings, the unleashing of dogs in civilian homes, humiliating strip
searches and early morning raids. The interrogation of arrested persons continues to be
accompanied by a mix of psychological pressure and physical violence. The number of
prisoners continues to rise. There are now over 10,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails,
including women and children. The position of child prisoners is particularly disturbing as they
are often compelled to share cells with adult prisoners, denied education and access to family.
XIII. THE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS AND FUNDING OF THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY
66. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is dealt with separately in the section on Gaza above.
The appalling humanitarian situation in that part of OPT should not be allowed to distract
attention from the serious humanitarian crisis in OPT as a whole. Four out of 10 Palestinians
live under the official poverty line of less than $2.10 a day. Unemployment is difficult to
determine. The International Labour Organization has estimated the jobless rate to be over
40 per cent of the Palestinian labour force. This, however, does not take account of the fact that
the public sector, which accounts for 23 per cent of total employment in OPT, is employed but
67. In large measure the humanitarian crisis is the result of the termination of funding of
the Palestinian Authority since Hamas was elected to office. In the first instance the Israeli
Government is withholding from the Palestinian Authority VAT duties and customs amounting
to $50-60 million per month that it collects on its behalf on goods imported into OPT. This
constitutes 36 per cent of the monthly budget of PA or 50 per cent of funds actually available
to PA. In law Israel has no right to refuse to transfer this money, which belongs to the
Palestinian Authority under the 1994 Protocol on Economic Relations between the Government
of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (Paris Protocol). Predictably, Israel justifies
its action on security grounds. This shortfall in funds for the Palestinian Authority has been
accompanied by a drastic reduction in funding on the part of donor countries and agencies. This
has had a serious impact on the work of NGOs which have had to suspend or cancel their
projects related to the work of PA. The decision of the Government of Canada to suspend aid
has had severe consequences in particular for NGOs. As a result of the fact that Hamas is
classified as a terrorist organization by both the United States and the European Union, the
United States Treasury has decided to prohibit transactions with the Palestinian Authority. This
has had a profound effect on banks which are not prepared to transfer funds to the Palestinian
Authority, its agencies and its projects and to NGOs engaged in projects with PA. Some projects
involving PA continue to be funded (e.g. World Bank projects) and the European Union has set
up a Temporary International Mechanism, endorsed by the Quartet, for the relief of Palestinians
employed in the health sector, the uninterrupted supply of utilities, including fuel, and the
provision of basic allowances to meet the needs of the poorest segment of the population. (This
safety net for the poorest will require the establishment of a special infrastructure.) A proposal
made by the World Bank in May that an interim funding scheme provide for the payment of
salaries to civil servants was, however, rejected by the Quartet.
68. Despite limited funding attempts of this kind, it is clear that the Palestinian economy,
which has become heavily dependent on donor funding since 1994, has suffered dramatically as
a result of the withholding of funds by Israel and the international community since the election
of Hamas. This economic strangulation has had a severe impact on the social and economic
rights of the Palestinian people. About 1 million of Palestine’s 3.5 million people is directly
affected by the non-payment of salaries to some 152,000 civil servants (and their families), but
the whole population has suffered indirectly. Moreover, as the Palestinian Authority is
responsible for over 70 per cent of schools and 60 per cent of health-care services in OPT, both
education and health care have suffered substantially.
69. Health care is examined more fully in the section on Gaza. However, it is important to
stress that cuts in funding have impacted seriously on health care throughout OPT. The failure to
pay the salaries of health-care workers has led to absenteeism because workers are simply unable
to pay for transportation to the workplace. Drugs and vaccines are in short supply. Hospitals are
unable to provide adequately for cancer and kidney dialysis patients. The transfer of patients to
hospitals in other parts of the West Bank, and particularly to Israel and Egypt, has become
particularly difficult as a result of closures and the refusal of permits.
70. In effect, the Palestinian people have been subjected to economic sanctions – the first
time an occupied people have been so treated. This is difficult to understand. Israel is in
violation of major Security Council and General Assembly resolutions dealing with unlawful
territorial change and the violation of human rights and has failed to implement the
2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, yet it escapes the imposition of
sanctions. Instead the Palestinian people, rather than the Palestinian Authority, have been
subjected to possibly the most rigorous form of international sanctions imposed in modern times.
It is interesting to recall that the Western States refused to impose meaningful economic
sanctions on South Africa to compel it to abandon apartheid on the grounds that this would harm
the black people of South Africa. No such sympathy is extended to the Palestinian people or
their human rights.
XIV. THE ADVISORY OPINION OF THE INTERNATIONAL
COURT OF JUSTICE AND THE UNITED NATIONS
71. In 2004 the International Court of Justice held that the Wall that Israel is presently
building in Palestinian territory is illegal and should be dismantled. In its advisory opinion the
Court also found a number of other Israeli practices (such as the establishment of settlements) to
be contrary to international law. Two years have passed, and nothing has been done to give
effect to the findings of the Court. To aggravate matters, the Wall does not feature in any way
whatsoever in the regular utterances of the Quartet. It is as if no opinion had been given.
72. In 2004 the General Assembly, in its resolution ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004, instructed the
Secretary-General to establish a register of damages arising from the construction of the Wall.
Two years later, this register is still not in existence, raising serious doubts about whether its
structure, goals and methods of operation will comply with the advisory opinion.
73. The advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice is an authoritative
pronouncement of the judicial organ of the United Nations, which has been endorsed by the
General Assembly in resolution ES-10/15. As an advisory opinion, it is not binding upon States.
It is, however, a definitive statement of the law as far as the United Nations is concerned, and it
must guide the United Nations in the same way as the advisory opinion of 21 June 1971 on the
legal consequences for States of the continuing presence of South Africa in Namibia guided the
political organs of the United Nations in their handling of the Namibian question. As a member
of the Quartet, the United Nations is duty bound to persuade that body to at least make reference
to the advisory opinion of the Court in its regular statements. If it fails in this endeavour, it must at least express its dissatisfaction with the failure of the Quartet to be guided by the advisory opinion and to make reference to it.
74. This report does not make pleasant reading. Israel is in violation of important
norms of human rights and international humanitarian law. While it is readily conceded
that Israel faces a security threat and is entitled to defend itself, it must not be forgotten
that the root cause of the security threat is the continued occupation of a people that wishes
to exercise its right of self-determination in an independent State. The need to bring this
situation to an end is recognized by the international community, which has delegated
power to the Quartet, comprising the United Nations, the European Union, the
United States of America and the Russian Federation, to facilitate a peaceful settlement in
the form of the creation of a Palestinian State. Unfortunately, at present this goal seems to
have been lost to view as the Quartet turns to punitive measures designed to compel Hamas
to change its ideological stance, or to bring about regime change. This is clear from its
statement of 9 May 2006. Whether the United Nations is in law authorized to make itself
a party to economic coercion through the Quartet without following its own procedures
under the Charter is questionable. In any event, diplomacy has given way to coercion.
75. It is pointless for the Special Rapporteur to recommend to the Government of Israel
that it show respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. More
authoritative bodies, notably the International Court of Justice and the Security Council,
have made similar appeals with as little success as have had previous reports of the Special
Rapporteur. It also seems pointless for the Special Rapporteur to appeal to the Quartet to
strive for the restoration of human rights, as neither respect for human rights nor respect
for the rule of law features prominently on the agenda of this body, as reflected in its public
utterances. In these circumstances, the Special Rapporteur can only appeal to the wider
international community to concern itself with the plight of the Palestinian people.
76. The image and reputation of the United Nations has, sadly, suffered in the occupied
Palestinian territories. While there is high regard for dedicated and committed
United Nations workers on the ground, the same cannot be said for the United Nations
in New York and Geneva. Palestinians are sensitive to the failure of high-ranking
United Nations officials to meaningfully visit the region and the inability of the
Security Council to take action to protect human rights, as recently evidenced by the veto
of an even-handed draft Security Council resolution on Gaza on 12 July 2006. The visit of
Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and United Nations
Emergency Relief Coordinator, on 25 July has no doubt done much to restore the image of
the United Nations in the region. The concern of the Human Rights Council will also be
welcomed, as will the statements by a number of special procedures mandate-holders. The
United Nations needs to show more concern for the human rights of Palestinians. Reports
such as the present one record the violations of human rights and humanitarian law, but
real action on the part of the Organization is essential at this troubled time.